Prepare yourself for EdCampCT 2013!

It’s that beautiful time of year once again: the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the first few clouds of what will eventually turn into a major hurricane that will inevitably bear down on New England have just formed in the Eastern Atlantic. All signs that the awesomeness known as EdCampCT is about to go down!

Super-Awesome Map of Attendee Locations

This year we’re looking forward to an amazing day with nearly 150 passionate educators coming together to share ideas, build relationships, and get psyched for the 2013-2014 school year. If you happen to be curious where the attendees for EdCampCT 2013 are coming from, then you’re in luck! A map of all the towns and/or schools the participants in this year’s event are coming from is below:
EdCamp2013_Participant_Locations_at_GeoCommons
If we focus in on the state of Connecticut, here’s what it looks like:
EdCamp2013_Participant_LocationsYou can see a larger interactive version of that very map at GeoCommons.

*Location data was gathered primarily from email addresses provided (i.e. if you signed up with a @rsd6.com email address, your location on the map is Litchfield, home of RSD 6 central offices), twitter bios, or- for a lucky few- from my personal knowledge of you. The NSA had nothing to do with it. I swear.

Sharing Session Ideas

As in years past, we’ve created a WallWisher Padlet Wall where you can share ideas for sessions you’d like to see at this year’s EdCampCT. While these ideas might be for a session you’d be willing to lead, feel free to add any sessions you’d simply be interested in attending. Putting an idea on the wall is not binding. :-)

EdCamp Guiding Principles

If you haven’t had the pleasure to yet experience an EdCamp, it’s a little different than the typical education conference. Here are some guiding principles to help get you ready for the event:

  • It’s Non-Commercial. EdCamps are about learning, not selling. Sure, we have sponsors, but there won’t be any vendors pushing product.
  • It’s Participant Led. Right now, no one- not even your fearless EdCampCT organizers- have any idea what sessions will be offered this Friday. That’s because the attendees (Yes, YOU!) determine the sessions the morning of the event. This may sound crazy, but it helps ensure that the topics are relevant to your needs. Plus, it opens up the sessions to anyone, not just “professional presenters.”
  • It Relies on the Law of Two Feet*. Did you go to a session that you thought was going to be perfect, but it turned out to be about a different topic altogether? Get up and find a better fit! EdCampers are encouraged to leave sessions that don’t meet their needs. In fact, as evidenced in the tweet cited below, EdCampers are morally obligated to leave sessions that aren’t working for them:

    You may feel awkward, but it’s a great way of ensuring sessions are engaging and relevant (and way better than wasting an entire session).

  • It’s Engaging. Sessions should be conversations, not lectures. If you’re spending time putting together a massive slide deck for an EdCamp, you’re probably doing it wrong. If you’re thinking of leading a session, be sure there’s a place for the session attendees to play a major part during the session.

*also known as the more inclusive “Law of Your General Position in 3-Dimensional Space.” (© Andrew Marcinek).

EdCamp CT Schedule for Fri, 8/16

Here is the tentative schedule for EdCamp CT on Friday, 8/16!  The day officially starts at 9:00 a.m., but morning people are welcome earlier…

  • 8:00-9:00 Registration, Breakfast, Networking
  • 9:00-9:45 Official Start! Announcements, Agenda Creation
  • 9:50-10:30 Session 1
  • 10:40-11:20 Session 2
  • 11:30-12:10 Session 3
  • 12:20-1:10 Lunch
  • 1:20-2:00 Session 4
  • 2:10-2:50 Session 5
  • 3:00-3:45 “Web 2.0 Smackdown” (lightning round of resource sharing) & Wrap-Up
  • 4:00 Happy Hour(s)

For anyone unfamiliar with the EdCamp “unconference” format, the time between 9:15 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. will be devoted to creating the agenda for the day.  Rather than hire others to pick the topics and do the talking, EdCamp participants themselves will propose and lead the day’s sessions.

To lead a session, you need not bring a slick presentation or feel you have to be an expert on a particular topic or tool.  Some of the best sessions are generated by a single question that leads to rich conversation and the sharing of a group’s collective experience and wisdom.  Great sessions also come from sharing an idea, a project, a lesson, a resource, an epiphany, or your vision for what’s possible in today’s learning environments.

In short, EdCamp CT will be what we make of it!  We hope you’ll arrive energized to lead, actively participate, share, and make connections that will enhance and enrich our experiences as educators and learners.

Diary of an EdCamp Participant-Turned-Organizer

EdCamp CT 2012 photo by Tyler Varsell

EdCamp CT 2012
photo by Tyler Varsell

My first experience with EdCamp was in 2011 when I attended the first ever EdCamp CT at The Ethel Walker School. I heard about the professional development opportunity from a colleague at Kingswood Oxford School who posted the information on our faculty-staff bulletin.

After reading the description of an “unconference,” I was immediately intrigued by the format and how different it was from the etiquette of the more traditional conferences that I had attended.  I also felt compelled to sign up because EdCamp is designed for educators and run by educators. I thought to myself, finally a professional development opportunity that is geared towards me and places a premium on participant experience, sharing and collaboration.

Before I continue, you should know that I love going to conferences and over the course of my eight-year teaching career, I have been to at least one (I’m being conservative) major foreign language, teaching or technology conference a year. I was a repeat conferencer because I enjoyed meeting other like-minded educators, learning about the latest research or practices in my field and gaining valuable resources and ideas that I could apply to improve my courses or enhance the best practices at my school. While I wouldn’t say that I was dissatisfied with any of my prior conference experiences- they just are not EdCamp.

EdCamp changed my view of how to organize professional learning opportunities and connected me to a well established network of talented professionals who discuss teaching and learning everyday, not just for a day or two at a time like a traditional conference.

So, what exactly were my take-aways from EdCamp CT, and why was it so valuable for me?

Well, first I learned about a variety of useful apps like Explain Everything, Poll Everywhere and Zite and expanded my understanding of Google Apps as collaborative tools. This knowledge was a game changer for me as I was just beginning to use my iPad as a teaching and learning device.

Second, I gained familiarity with iBooks, Creative Book Builder and the ePub format thanks to an awesome presentation by Megan Wilson, Apple Distinguished Educator and author of www.ipodsibilities.com

But perhaps my biggest take-away was understanding how to tap into the power of Twitter for professional development. I learned how to find and filter interesting and relevant content, how to share content and how to connect with others. After EdCamp CT, I had the makings of a robust professional learning network that continues to connect me with excellent resources and educators. #priceless

Oh yeah, did I mention that all of these monumental learning experiences were FREE. Hard to believe isn’t it! My advice is if you can, attend an EdCamp! You won’t regret it!

Jen Weeks

@jweeks21

EdCamp CT co-organizer