Updated: Oct 26, 2022
At the beginning of this episode, I share my experience with my first edcamp. Here is a sneak peek. One afternoon in October, I was be-boppin’ around Twitter, and I found a post about an edcamp in Pittsburgh. I had never heard of an edcamp (a free unconference, meaning sessions are planned that day), but it was close by and FREE. We had four students representing our college at Edcamp Pittsburgh in the Fall 2015.
If you take a student to an edcamp, they will want to start one themselves. So, the challenge was on! We had a small but mighty dream team to plan and execute our very first Edcamp, with Katy leading the charge. By April, this team of preservice educators had contacted sponsors, received donations, planned the day's schedule, created a website and social media presence, and hosted the event. The students took charge and owned this event. Yes, by the end of the day, we were all exhausted, but that was just the beginning of the legacy of EdcampGCC.
Let's address the question, "What is an Edcamp?"
OK, so, in my opinion, an Edcamp is a place where you go to learn, lead and repeat. What do I mean by that? Let's break it down.
First, we are learners, lead learners. We are there to learn from others. Learn about techniques, strategies, pedagogies, tools, whatever it is - we are there to learn. The first thing you do at an edcamp is to write down a topic that you want to learn about on a sticky note. Have more than one? Great! Write down as many topics as you want. Another great feature of edcamps is that we lead our learning by using the law of two feet. If we are not jiving in a session, we get up and go to another session. It isn't frowned upon if we get up and leave.
Second, we are leaders. We all have something to say about some topics in education. The beauty of an edcamp is that there are no planned sessions. There are no presenters with a PowerPoint instructing you on how to use the XYZ tool. Instead, an edcamp is discussion based. One central tenet of an edcamp are that the most intelligent person in the room is the room.
Let's talk about some benefits of attending an edcamp.
Learning - The learning at an edcamp is unbelievable. But you have to own it. You can't just go into a session and not participate. It is your time to learn and grow, so do it! If you don't like a session, get up and go to another one
Networking - Oh my gosh, guys, networking is vast at edcamps. This is where I go to reconnect with people I have met online through my PLN. I love meeting new people and learning from them.
Free food - Food brings people together. Something about donuts and a cup of coffee can help the conversation flow. Also, if you are a college student attending an edcamp, it is a meal (or 2) outside the cafeteria!
Swag - That is right! As teachers, sometimes we specialize in the freebies. Well, my friends, edcamp has the freebies. From stickers to pens to notebooks, Edcamps have the swag!
Prize patrol - Prizes are fantastic. Getting to choose your prizes is even more awesome! Edcamps usually have some great giveaways at the end of the day, but you must be present to win! If you win, be sure to thank the sponsor of the Edcamp.
Edcamps are fantastic learning experiences for any teacher. Whether you are a preservice teacher or a veteran of 25 years, there is always something new to learn at an Edcamp. In addition, you always have something to share at an Edcamp. Don't think you are a preservice teacher and that you don't have any pearls of wisdom or valuable ideas because you don't have experience - you do! You have so much to say and share! Go forth and share it!
Oh, did I mention, Edcamps are FREE? That is right. You must get there and enjoy a free day of PD customized just for you!
Want to find an Edcamp near you?
Check out the Edcamp Foundation site here to find a variety of edcamps near you! Look to see if an edcamp is near your hometown that you can attend during a break from school.
What makes Edcamp GCC different?
Do you want to Edcamp GCC? Click here to register!
Tinker Lounge - We will bring back our tinker lounge, where participants get hands-on experience with new and emerging tech tools to use in the classroom. These tools are demonstrated by mini-experts (lead learner volunteers) who demonstrate the tool and how to use it in the classroom.
Edtech poster walk - Check out posters created by preservice teachers about Edtech tools you can use in your classroom. Network, learn, and add to your teacher's techy tool belt!
SWAG - We also love to shower our attendees with strategies, techniques, and SWAG!
Learning never stops! - Learning starts with our welcome session with an ignite talk and welcome message through sessions and lunch. During lunch, we have an edtech resource smackdown where anyone can share a tech tool or strategy.
High energy - we bring the energy to this learning experience! Our volunteers bring a smile to your face and ensure you are enjoying your learning experience!