The Reflective Educator

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Tag: Edcamp

Edcamp weekend

I attended Edcamp Delta this past weekend. On the same weekend, Edcamp SD43 occurred in Port Coquitlam. Both Edcamp events had a fair number of people, which is a fairly impressive draw for a Saturday professional learning session that no one is forced to go to.

The sessions were heavily tweeted about. Here is the archive for the Edcamp SD43 hashtag. Here is the archive for the Edcamp Delta hashtag.

Every session felt really useful and/or interesting during the day. I spent the morning talking about technology in the primary grades, and on an educational panel talking about education in British Columbia. In the afternoon, I facilitated a session on "Improving Professional Development" which Brad and I continued during the last session time.

I’m excited to report that Edcamp is flourishing in BC.

What is Edcamp?

Edcamp is a (relatively) new form of professional development which is highly flexible, and based on the needs of the participants. Here is a presentation on Edcamp I’ve created to share one form of Edcamp which was used for Edcamp Vancouver last year.

 


Photos of Edcamp Vancouver, taken by Darren Yung.

 

Kristen Swanson presented on Edcamp at TEDxPhiladelphiaEd last June. Her TED talk is embedded below, and she goes into much more detail about what Edcamp can look like.

Questions about Edcamp & professional development

If you’ve not heard about Edcamp, I recommend first reading this blog post by Mary Beth Hertz on what Edcamp is. I absolutely think that educator centred professional development, like the Edcamp model, is a necessary part of our future professional practice.

The descriptions of edcamps, according to the foundation statement of the Edcamp foundation is:

  • free
  • non-commercial and with a vendor-free presence
  • hosted by any organization interested in furthering the edcamp mission
  • made up of sessions that are determined on the day of the event
  • events where anyone who attends can be a presenter
  • reliant on the “law of two feet” that encourages participants to find a session that meets their needs

These are all great attributes of the Edcamp model, but I have some questions, and wonder if we can push the Edcamp model to be a more robust replacement for traditional professional development.

  • How can we encourage follow-up and continued conversations after the Edcamp conference day? One common complaint of traditional professional development is that it’s like a drive-through at a fast food restaurant. It tastes great, fills you up, but leaves you hungry for more in a few hours. Traditional one-off professional development is equally ineffective, except when it inspires educators, and makes them want more.
     
  • The traditional presentation style of workshops is itself problematic. How can the edcamp model support a more learner centred model? In a traditional professional development model, the learner is expected to sit and passively absorb knowledge from the presenter, and while the edcamp model addresses this to some degree (in their "law of two feet" & Twitter backchannel chats), under the existing guidelines, an Edcamp could end up looking very much like a more traditional conference. At Edcamp Vancouver, we at least partially addressed this last April by forcing presentations to be limited in length, and opening up more time for a discussion about the presentation.
     
  • How do we address feedback to the learner in the Edcamp model? In the learning process, getting feedback about your own perspective is critical. Discussions are one way to get feedback, but not everyone is comfortable jumping into discussions, but every learner requires some feedback on their learning.

The Edcamp planning commitee for Edcamp Vancouver will be meeting in a couple of weeks, and I plan on bringing these questions to them. If you have suggestions on how we can address these questions using the Edcamp model, I’d love to hear them.

Edcamps happening in Canada next school year

 So far we have the following Edcamps planned in Canada for next year.

If you know of another Edcamp happening in Canada let me know. If you want to plan an Edcamp yourself, I recommend reading Mary Beth Hertz’s excellent description of what an Edcamp is, and how to plan it here. All you really need to plan an Edcamp is a small team of dedicated professionals, and someone willing to provide some space.