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 (which is a free unconference, meaning sessions are planned that day), but it was close by and FREE. We had four students represent our college at Edcamp Pittsburgh in 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 the time April had rolled around, this team of pre-service educators contacted sponsors, received donations, planned the schedule of the day, created a website and social media presence, and hosted the entire event. The students took charge and really 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 in fact. We are there to learn from others. Learn about techniques, strategies, pedagogies, tools, whatever it is - we are there to learn. In fact, the very first thing you do at an edcamp is to write down a topic on a sticky note that you want to learn about. 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. Meaning 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. Meaning there are no presenters there with a PowerPoint instructing you on how to use the XYZ tool. Instead, an edcamp is discussion based. One of the main tenets of an edcamp is that the smartest 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 huge at edcamps. This is where I go to reconnect with people who I have met online through my PLN. I love meeting new people and learning from them.
Free food - Food brings people together. There is something about donuts and a cup of coffee that can just help the conversation flow. Also, if you are a college student attending an edcamp, it is a meal (or 2) outside of 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 awesome. Getting to choose your prizes is even more awesome! Edcamps usually have some great giveaways at the end of the day, but you have to be present to win! If you do win be sure to thank the sponsor of the Edcamp.
Edcamps are amazing 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 because you are a preservice teacher 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 just must get yourself 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 be bringing 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 all about Edtech tools that you can use in your classroom. Network, learn, and add to your teacher techy tool belt!
SWAG - We also love to shower our attendees with strategies, techniques, and of course SWAG!
Learning never stops! - Learning starts with our welcome session with an ignite talk and welcome message all the way 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 make sure that are enjoying your learning experience!