This past Saturday, I attended my first Edcamp near my college in Maryland. It was hosted by Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Yep, I am an edcamper :)
And, I think I'm hooked.
If you aren't familiar with Edcamps, they are basically unconferences. That means there are no set speakers and no set topics for the event. The participants all contribute ideas and topics that interest them and share expertise in smaller break-out groups, called "sessions." Edcamps are one of those things that are hard to explain, though this video takes a shot at it. Evidently, Edcamps are based on the unconference model of Barcamps, which I hadn't heard of either - though, I must be honest - Barcamp conjures up images of learning, fun, and a whole lots of drinks in hand. Ha!
Back to Edcamps...I found the Edcamp experience really, really powerful. I loved that what I was interested in learning that day was a driving force in what topics were discussed in the sessions. To no one's surprise, I had leadership and coaching on my mind in relation to kids, teens, and adults. The session on coaching was pretty powerful for me (and the other 20+ people who also had an interest in the topic). I also - last minute - decided to attend the classroom management session. That, too, was uber-powerful!
When you have passionate people who have a genuine interest in a topic, you don't need a speaker or workshop leader. You just need a safe space - like Edcamp - to speak, share, grapple with ideas, and learn from each other.
My mind is spinning with all the ways I want to use Edcamp in my position at my college, the coaching community, and other areas of life. What about an Edcamp for moms? Or an Edcamp for bicyclists? Or...wait for it....an Edcamp for crafting?
Mark my words. There will be many more Edcamps and unconference experiences in my life for 2016.
What is your Edcamp or unconference experience?