Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend one Edcamp 43 in Coquitlam. First, I would like to thank the team from SD #43 that organized the event – it was awesome!
Edcamp43 was my second Edcamp experience. Last year I attended Edcamp Vancouver and when I got home last night I read my post after that event and reflected on the Edcamp experience in general. In that post I talked about the importance of connecting with educators all over the province in order to grow the movement. Well, based on the number of Edcamps in BC this year (I think I count 6) and this post by Chris Kennedy today, we are well on our way.
Here is what I really like about the Edcamp model and why I think it can be a very powerful agent of change.
It is an Organic Movement
First everyone comes because they want to. Those that want to share their ideas on education put themselves out there to present. Rather than presenting in the traditional way – where communication is one way, Edcamp presenters share their thinking as a conversation starter and then facilitate a conversation among the group. While people are waiting to share their ideas, people are tweeting on the backchannel. In essence you have two rich discussions occurring at once. If you think there is a better discussion going on elsewhere, you are encouraged to leave and join it. In fact I know a few people who got into a deep discussion over lunch and just carried it through in lieu of a third session.
Traditional Lines are Blurred
At Edcamp parents, teachers, administrators, trustees, district office etc. are all engaging on the same level. Nobody has a title at edcamp – just a name and a twitter handle. Some of the most powerful dialogue yesterday came from Jonathon Vervaet’s students. Listening talk about Inquiry Learning and Assessment practices had us all yearning for more.
Conversations are Rich due to Social Media
It amazes me how quick and easy the conversations are with people I have connected with on twitter. Face to Face meetings with people from my Twitter PLN are deeper than I could imagine. Many people have blogged about this phenomenon before, but I believe that Social Media definitely has the power to connect us on a deeper level.
Most people who attend an Edcamp rank it as some of the best professional development they have participated in. I agree. I would argue there is no better value in education. Where else can you have rich dialogue with talented educators that push your thinking to another level at no cost. Often traditional conferences can drain our Pro D accounts, but I can attend as many Edcamps as I want with minimal cost.
Thanks again to the organizers of Edcamp Coquitlam and to all those who are engaged in the discussion. Our province is a better place for it.