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!
Edcamp CT co-organizer