In CEP811, we had the opportunity to participate in a virtual EdCamp experience. My reflections on this experience are included in this post.
I have participated in EdCamps before and really enjoy the structure. I love learning from my peers and allowing them to shine in their areas of expertise. I like that the content is driven from the needs of the participants. I also like the informal nature of the interactions and the fact that you can participate as much or as little as is comfortable for you on any given topic. The thing I had the biggest trouble with in this situation was the fact that I had to be the “expert” for a topic in which I do not feel that I have any expertise. Many of the EdCamp sessions I have been in before had less of that leader/teacher feel and more of a conversational one. I think in the future, I would try to draw more out of the other attendees to make it more of a conversation and less of a presentation. I also prefer face-to-face EdCamps because of fewer out of the user’s control technology frustrations like wireless dropping out, presenting using unfamiliar technology and the like.
For me, this type of professional development format is not really anything new. I am in my tenth year as a media specialist in my district and this is how my team does our self-directed PD. When we implement a new initiative, but we are not given any training. Each person learns a bit on their own at a workshop or a conference or muddles through in their building. We then come together and figure out what works and what doesn’t through our conversations and individual expertise. I think this is why I felt so immediately comfortable in the EdCamp environment. I think this movement for professional development generally is positive because one of the biggest complaints about PD is that it is not relevant. By creating learner led professional development in this manner, educators are given a say in what they learn and their PD becomes relevant.
The first thing I would do to organize an EdCamp would be contact an expert and ask for advice. A full EdCamp would require finding a location, publicity, sponsors, securing necessary technology, preparing the online “schedule” documents ahead of time, food and drink and many more things I am sure I cannot even think of at this time. It would also require a decision on focus. I have seen EdCamps with different themes – literature, technology, general education. I would have to decide ahead of time if I was going to have a theme and get the word out to the appropriate audience. Pernille Ripp, who founded EdCampMadisonWI, wrote this blog post after the inaugural event discussing some of the things that she learned about running an EdCamp. Resources such as this would be what I would use to help me get my own EdCamp off the ground.
EdCamp is a very useful form of professional development that allows educators to show off their expertise and learn from their peers. It is a collaborative, personalized, experiential way to learn and uses the same models of best practice we use in our classrooms. For me, it represents the change in PD structure I have been craving since I started teaching 23 years ago and I am glad to get the opportunity to participate.
Jarrett, K. (2012, December 1). Feelings on professional development in general? (Edcamp Philly 2012 Survey). [Online image]. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from https://flic.kr/p/bLN2E4 Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Ripp, P. (2013, February 24). So we ran and edcamp and what did we learn? [Web log]. Retrieved from http://pernillesripp.com/2013/02/24/so-we-ran-an-edcamp-and-what-did-we-learn/