Posted by: darcymullin | April 17, 2011

Musing about Edcampvan

First, I would like to thank the organizers at Edcamp Vancouver, John Oliver Secondary and their student volunteers for the day.  I would also like to thank all the participants who through conversations (backchannel included) for challenging my thinking and learning.

What an amazing day. 

The EdCamp model is truly empowering.  Having choice in your learning, presenters not acting as experts, but more as facilitators of discussion allowed for a more collaborative style of learning.  Is Edcamp for everyone?  I’m not sure.  There was mention that the model was tried as a push from District Office with minimal success.  Why?

As educators, we are learners just like out students.  As educators we know that we need to put our kids on the edge of improvement, a little discomfort is needed to challenge and push them, but if the challenge is to big and they are pushed at a level beyond their comfort the learning will be lost.

Some educators are more progressive than others.  For those that are continually reflecting on their practice, collaborate and always have themselves on the edge of improvement Edcamp is a great model – it totally fits their style of learning.  For those, that teach curriculum and not kids and prefer to keep their door closed would be overwhelmed by Edcamp.   It is too much too soon.

For the Edcamp model to become systemic, I think it needs to continue to grow through connected educators.  It needs to be a grassroots movement that spreads through word of mouth and progressive learning.  Malcolm Gladwell is oft quoted, but his seminal work in the Tipping Point can act as a guide.  The group of educators at Edcamp Vancouver (and other Edcamps globally) were highly connected, provincially and beyond due to the high quality of their work and their use of Social Media.  It is these connections that we can influence others and bring them willingly on board.  At some point, through hard work and patience, the system will tip and the Edcamp model of Pro D will become the accepted model of learning.

Thanks to all the Edcampers around the world for continuing the good work.



  1. I agree that there is a threshold of engagement required to participate in a learning conference like Edcamp Vancouver. It won’t work for everyone, nor should it have to.

    My recommendation is not one professional development model for all, or more specifically that engaging professional development like Edcamp should replace more traditional professional development models. It is better to have a variety of professional development models, and to trust that people who choose Edcamp over other models will likely be doing learning which will be hard to quantify and impossible to prescribe.

    I do actually have a complaint with the Edcamp model after having run it. It would be very easy to choose Edcamp and to pick sessions with which one has great comfort; to have a lot of fabulous conversations, but really learn nothing from the experience. A concern I have is that we wouldn’t push ourselves enough, and that we would limit our learning as a result. You learn the most when you are at the almost uncomfortable edge of what you know, rather than in your comfort zone.

    So having run an Edcamp, I will run one again, but I will look for ways in which we can encourage educators to push themselves and choose sessions which are useful to them, but perhaps slightly out of their expertise.

  2. I’m glad to hear the educamp was worthwhile. If I wasn’t already attending the Personalized Learning for the 21st Century conference in Vancouver that started the day after, I would have been there. So I would be very keen on an EdCamp in the Okanagan. Count me in! I agree with you totally that it needs to be a grassroots movement. This type of professional development and the whole process of creating a personal learning network often brings with it the necessity of putting one’s self “out-there” in an often very public format. My tentative forays into making connections with other like-minded educators has reaped multiple benefits for me. While being able to direct and control my learning, I have been motivated by passionate educators, and have been forced to go outside of my comfort zone constantly.

    • Hi Jodie, your comments raise another interesting point. David mentioned one of the possible pitfalls of engaging with like minded educators is that we will not push ourselves, but you argue the opposite. You suggest that being in a supportive network motivates you to try things outside the comfort zone. I think the model works for people in different ways.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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