I’ve been using this week of my Spring Break to write about some innovative ideas in education, and a comment from a reader on my “Teacherpreneurship” post, motivated me to include the concept of Edcamps in this series.
I’ve been meaning to write about the Edcamp model for quite some time now, but I was holding back until I actually attended one. I never even heard of Edcamps until I started getting more involved with Twitter. Even then, I just thought it was another name for professional development. It wasn’t until I attended a local Google Summit, during which the last part of the day followed the Edcamp model, that I realized that Edcamps are professional development done in a very non-traditional way.
When you attend an Edcamp, you cannot sign up for sessions ahead of time. In fact, there are no sessions planned. The agenda for the day is set on the day of the event by the people who are attending. That’s right. You arrive that morning, and you decide what you want to learn about. And then you learn.
According to the Edcamp Foundation website, here are the criteria for an Edcamp:
- non-commercial and conducted with a vendor-free presence
- hosted by any organization interested in furthering the Edcamp mission
- made up of sessions that are determined on the day of the event
- events where anyone who attends can be a presenter
- reliant on the “law of two feet” that encourages participants to find a session that meets their needs
Revolutionary, right? Or, perhaps you are thinking that it is just a recipe for chaos…
Apparently, it works. You can use the Foundation’s website to find an Edcamp near you, or you can organize one of your own with their suggested resources. One of the most comprehensive resources that I’ve found has been this PDF, “How to Start and Run Your Very Own EdCamp.”
Now, as I mentioned, I have not attended a full-day Edcamp. But I certainly saw the value when I participated in the “mini” Edcamp last December. Teachers volunteered topics they wanted to learn more about, or that they wanted to discuss with others, and the topics were assigned to different rooms on the campus. People volunteered to moderate in each room, and then everyone migrated to the topic of their choice. The only complaints that I heard were that people were having a hard time choosing just one room!
I love this idea, and can’t wait to participate in a full-day version. On Twitter, I’ve seen some educators mention that they have used the Edcamp model with their students, too. I think it would be great for a school Parent Night, as well.
If you’ve attended an Edcamp, I would love to hear your thoughts. And, if you have organized one for students or parents, please share your impressions of extending Edcamp to these populations.
Update: Here is a recent article from Edutopia (3/19/14) about Edcamps.