Sunday, August 28, 2011

Forget the Clever Title: My Edcamp Experience

Last Saturday I made the precipitous voyage across the San Mateo Bridge to attend my first ever edcamp.  Truthfully speaking, I though I was an experienced edcamper because of the bevy of blogs I read on the subject and the numerous events I followed via hashtags. But like so many other things in life you really have to be there to get the aura the event produced. To put it simply, an edcamp is the apex of authentic learning. It is completely free, completely voluntary, completely democratic, and completely invigorating. You show up and figure out what you are going to learn. People volunteer to lead sessions and discussions, while participants chose where they want to spend their time. It is really a neat concept and the attendees just ooze passion.

Initially, I was excited to learn practical tips and cutting-edge technology. As the day progressed, I found myself enjoying the theoretically sessions and the ensuing conversations they produced. This was part of the beauty of the day. How many conferences lend themselves to conversations like this? Another cool part of the day was meeting some of the people I converse with on Twitter every day. Relationships develop on Twitter and when you meet people in person, those become tangible. 

The day was so energizing, so exciting. Why isn't more of education like this? There is no reason why more professional and curriculum development can't occur organically in this manner. Nor does this need to be restricted to education. I met a relator who runs a similar conference and a technology consultant who believes in this model. People themselves can create so much! I also think we can do things like this with our students. Imagine a day when students are leading each other!!!!

Some of the sessions

Below are brief discussions of the sessions I attended (I also was able to follow other sessions via Twitter, but will leave that for others)

Session1: Rules for Revolutionaries @Patrix47
He shared two books for disruptive thinking: Disrupt and Rules for Revolutionaries. Although not an educator, he is concerned with some of the narrow thinking that is the norm in the ed reform. He also gave a brief guideline for disruption.
1. Personalize  
2. Show Problem
3. Insight, Idea
4. Opportunity, Idea for Change
5. Solution
6. Ra, Ra slide
7. what you will get
8. ethos (text)
He also stressed how disruption has purpose and is emotional.

Session 2: Truth - What is It? @classroomtools (Bill Chapman)
It was really neat to get a chance to meet and chat with Bill. Bill is a retired educator and someone I talk to nearly everyday on Twitter. He gave a wonderful philosophical discussion on seeing things from multiple perspectives and analyzing sources. Here is the outline he made for his session.

Session 3: Raising Good Digital Citizens @visionsbyvicky
This was a 45 minute conversation on how we define and teach digital citizenship. There was no presentation and really no path for the conversation. It was just a place where people could talk about the issues, successes, and questions we had about learning in the 21st century. It was fabulous as it was free-flowing. It seemed more like a conversation amongst staff, than professional development. It was great to learn from others in this way.

Session 4: QR Codes & Other Cell Phone Applications @alicekeeler
Although I knew much of the information that was discussed in the session, the conversation allowed me to better apply it to my classroom. It was also a small session so I was able to easily throw ideas around with other educators. Some of us were experienced with this technology, while other were just starting. But that was what made it good. Questions were being asked, questions were being answered and learning was everywhere.

Session 5: Socratic Seminars by @Ron_Peck
Once again I got the opportunity to meet somebody I interact with on Twitter. Ron Peck is a leader in the #sschat on Mondays. He drove all the way from Southern Oregon to exchange ideas. I really enjoyed this because Ron gave me a quick primer on Socratic Seminars via a wikipage and tweets almost a year ago. In this session, I was able to expand on a strategy that I like using but need more practice in implementation.


  1. Love your take on EdCampSFBay. I did not attend any of the same sessions that you did. It's great that we were at the same unconference, but had completed different experiences. It's also fantastic that you have some links to the sessions I missed. Hopefully we can talk in real life at the next EdCamp.

  2. Thanks for posting notes about the sessions you attended, Tim. I'm happy to be able to see some of what I was not able to see when there.

    Like you I was astonished by EdCampSFBay. Going in, I was not sure what to expect. I've been involved in helping to organize, and in presenting at, any number of ed conferences over the years; so I was a bit suspicious at whether an unconference like EdCamp would be in the same league. Not only was it, but it was equal to the best of the conferences I've attended in my professional life. The organizers, of course, should get much credit; but the attendee/presenters deserve the most. Their passion, intellect and teaching abilities were unbelievable.

    And, while it was great to get to meet and speak face to face with people I've known only through Twitter; I'm especially pleased to have gotten to meet new professional friends from whom I'll continue to learn via Twitter and their blogs - much as I do from your tweets and this blog.

    Thanks Tim, for helping to make EdCampSFBay so special, and for sharing your thoughts here and on Twitter.