Why I Like Edcamps
As registration rolls on for EdcampOU, I find myself in an interesting position of talking with people who may be “first timers” to the experience and are asking the common question of “why?” Reflecting on talking with those who are on the fence about attending their first unconference really helped me define what about the Edcamp experience that I enjoy so much.
Edcamps are democratic, interdependent, and purposeful professional development for educators. Not many other opportunities can say that.
An experience that is designed by the participants, for the participants guarantees that those who attend will learn something applicable to their professional practice. So often, professional development for educators is very “top down” – the topics, speakers, and content are selected by a few for many, based on what the few believe the many will benefit from. There are times when this rather “autocratic” design does benefit large numbers, however, there are just as many instances where little, if any, impact on classroom practice is felt. By allowing “the conference” to select the topics, speakers, content, and even the format, Edcamps break with tradition and democractically allow for relevant, practical learning. The learning becomes purposeful because the topics are what the participants have identified for themselves, rather than thinking about something that may or may not fit into their professional practice.
At and Edcamp, my learning is contingent upon your participation, just as your learning requires my effort. Every session is a dialogue about ideas where we share what we’re working on and help one another grow in our professional practice. You’re not an attendee at and Edcamp, you’re a participant. The stronger the pool of people who attend, the better the outcomes for everyone.
In a digital age, where information and connections are everywhere, Edcamps and unconferences reflect a big part of the future of Professional Development. If you have attended before, attend again and resolve to present an idea or organize a session. If you’ve never been, find an event and make arrangements to be there. If you are a school leader, it is critical you find an Edcamp and attend, so you can get a picture of better PD for the school you work in. The model will transform professional learning in profound ways.