Source: EdCamp Columbus
This week I participated in my first EdCamp. This was also my first time using Google Hangouts. I have experience using FaceTime, but I love how Google Hangouts allows so many people to join in the conversation. Going into the EdCamp, I did not know what to expect, but I am happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my first EdCamp experience!
I must say I was very impressed with my classmates’ presentations. I learned more in the hour of my “unconference” about the critical questions around technology integration, innovative technology integration, and the flipped classroom model than I ever would have simply reading about it online. I even learned a lot from those who offered feedback and their own exprience about my own topic, innovative uses of technology in the classroom. Everyone had their own experiences to share. When reflecting on this experience, I think about what an alternative assignment could have been. We could have had to create a presentation on our topic, post it to our blogs and comment on a classmates. While I am sure I would have still learned something this way, the EdCamp made the information so much more meaningful. Being able to see the speakers and their presentations as they brought their topic to life was more meaningful, engaging, and authentic. We were able to offer personal experiences and ask questions in real time. This experience mirrored sitting in a room with colleagues.
When asking myself what I did not like about this unconference experience or what would I change, I honestly could not come up with anything. The only “con” I can think of about my experience is the technical difficulties. I plan on continuing to use Google Hangouts for similar purposes and become more comfortable with the program and format of discussion. There is one thing that may make the EdCamp experience more meaningful, and that is having more peers in the Hangout that are not presenting. I enjoyed receiving and hearing feedback from the participants who were not participating. The more real-life experiences we can bring together, the better!
I definitely see potential in this conversation for professional development. This format can open doors and allow teachers to virtually sit down and talk with other teachers from anywhere. Next year, I would like to try to organize an informal EdCamp “unconference”. Each year, we set goals for ourselves in our classrooms. I think it would be valuable to create an EdCamp centered around the topic of your goal. This would allow for teachers to communicate with other teachers across the district, or even beyond. The benefit of setting up this professional development in the format of an unconference is that it allows for more flexibility. Teachers have a lot on their plate professionally and personally. I think participation would be greater since teachers can get involved from anywhere. An added benefit of participating in a professional development in this format is that the conference can be recorded. This gives teachers the opportunity to go back and revisit the discussion whenever they need to. This format also allows others to join, watch, and learn something even if they are not active participants.
I would love to organize an EdCamp unconference, but would need to take the time to learn what that entails. I began looking around the internet and found this great resource, EdCamp: The Complete Guide. This guide provides helpful tips and covers what you need to know to start your own EdCamp unconference. The first difficulty that came to mind when thinking about creating an EdCamp unconference is how would I market it to get the participation I needed? EdCamp: The Complete Guide suggests Twitter, among many other options. That stood out to me because I have started to become involved in the “Twittersphere” (that’s what it’s called, right?). I have already received “likes” and “retweets” just by blogging about what I am learning in my CEP courses. I can imagine that with enough Twitter marketing, I could gather a group for my EdCamp unconference.
I am excited for the possibilities EdCamp unconferences offer and cannot wait to participate in another, and hopefully soon organize one myself!
EdCamp Columbus (2012). Edcamp word cloud [image]. Retrieved from edcampcolumbus.wordpress.com.