Posted by: darcymullin | January 15, 2012

Reflections from Camp

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.

It’s Free

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.




  1. The more I read about the edcamps yesterday, the more I wish I had been able to attend! Good for you to reflect back on what must have been a very rich learning experience!

    I agree with your thoughts on the power of social media to create deeper connections. You say that “Face to Face meetings with people from my Twitter PLN are deeper than I could imagine.” I’ve found, and blogged about, the exact same thing. It’s so amazing that the way educators, and others, are using twitter creates trust and establishes learning relationships before people ever meet in person. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Hi Errin, the Edcamp experience is a rich one. One of the other great things is that there is a true culture of sharing and collaboration. People are there to learn from one another. Thanks for reading.

  2. Thank you for your post. I also felt that yesterday went really well.

    Admittedly I am a bit of a convert to “backchannel” conversations, yet only partially. I am wholeheartedly in support of the collaboration and sharing it fosters. Yesterday I received some direct and valuable feedback in a twitter conversation I was having with someone in a different room. However, I know my personal engagement in the conversation and dialogue at hand is noticeably hampered when I read, or engage in backchannel communication. I understand best when I am clear on definitions, can sense intonation, and view body language. Backchanneling takes me away from this. I would be naive to not be open to the fact that how we communicate culturally is changing, and I am not attempting to discredit backchanneling, or get in the way of its progression. It also allows for those not present to be connected – a good thing. I am hopeful that face-to-face in depth engagement with those we share physical space with can continue to grow culturally as well.

    With that point out of the way (and thank you for allowing it, as it is one I am still pondering) I want to reinforce that I enjoyed your piece here Darcy. I want to particularly note how much I also enjoyed the blurring of traditional lines at edcamp. I get so incredibly energized from listening to people speak about something they are passionate about. I also get inspired when there is a sense of acceptance in the room – and I definitely got that yesterday. That acceptance comes from the fact that attendees and participants – yourself and so many others – prioritize caring. It is appreciated and the cornerstone of quality education.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Ian. I understand your perspective on the backchannel. It works well for some and not for others. Like a good classroom, it allows people to enter the learning where they are comfortable. I love your last point. People attend an Edcamp because they care and that caring is the cornerstone to quality education…couldn’t agree more.

  3. […] as Darcy Mullin noted in his post edcamp post, it is a highly worthwhile event and it is virtually […]

  4. Reblogged this on the KSS Learning Commons.

  5. […] was my third Edcamp experience and it was very different from the others.  While Carolyn, Naryn, Claire and myself […]

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