I was nervous, excited, and trying not to forget to pack my essentials. Going to camp was something I never experienced as a kid, but as an educator and technology enthusiast I decided to give it a try. Once again, I can thank Twitter and my #peel21st family for introducing me to this idea.
Registration was simple & free, and I did a little research on what this was (after signing up). EDcamp is a mini-conference (today was for one day) style where the agenda is decided by the participants (myself and about a hundred + other teachers, administrators, educational consultants).
I showed up and signed in, made my name tag, and walked over to an almost empty blank wall. The table in front had posted notes and a few markers. This was my first task…ask a question. Questions are what drive the agenda. As more people show up and write down questions you can start to see a theme or focus.
Light refreshments were enjoyed and we made our way to the cafeteria for the start. The keynote joined us through Skype from the Atlantic side of Canada. While the keynote was presenting a few organizers were analyzing the wall of questions, forming sessions based on popularity.
We divided up into groups based on our own interests. I decided to look at the implementation of Maker Spaces in the classroom & Student Directed Learning. The sessions consisted of all levels of education (including administrators) and was a great way to ask questions and provide our own experiences. We were invited to get up and leave and join other sessions (I didn’t do this as I was too engaged in both discussions).
Lunch was great- simple & delicious…we had a chance to do something called a Global Cafe. I was told this was different from other EDcamp sessions but something I took away as a valuable way to engage staff and colleagues. Tables with large sheets of paper and makers covered our previous lunch accommodations. Questions that provoked discussion were written on each table and a maximum of 6 people per table were invited to jot down their insights. A switch to a second group (leaving one member to stay behind and start the next discussion) provided a chance to challenge your thinking.
The day ended with prize giveaways from the sponsors & a follow up to our keynote presentation (this included connecting with students from Uganda and sharing songs). The idea of an EDcamp can be used effectively in large school staff meetings. The fear is the unknown. Those who like to have a solid agenda and plan ahead of time would find this process frustrating.
The fear of not knowing the content is the freedom it provides those involved to direct their own learning journey. I believe we are moving more towards this in the classroom and therefore our professional development should reflect the same style. I look forward to attending more of these in the future…it may have taken 27 years but I finally went to camp!