What makes Edcamp an unconference?
Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the people running the conference, Edcamp has an agenda that’s created by the participants at the start of the event. Instead of one person standing in front of the room talking for an hour, people are encouraged to have discussions and hands-on sessions. Sponsors don’t have their own special sessions or tables, all of the space and time are reserved for the things the people there want to talk about. People could pay hundreds of dollars to attend another conference, or they could go to Edcamp for free.
Built on principles of connected and participatory learning, Edcamp strives to bring teachers together to talk about the things that matter most to them: their interests, passions, and questions. Teachers who attend Edcamp can choose to lead sessions on those things that matter, with an expectation that the people in the room will work together to build understanding by sharing their own knowledge and questions.
- 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
We Edcamp because…
-we are learners first, teachers second.
-we care about kids.
-we embrace a growth mindset, and we want to model this for our students.
-we know adults need social learning.
-we believe educators are the best change agents for schools.
-we are empowered.
We Edcamp because we are learners first, teachers second.
Remember the first time you saw a child “get it?” That “a-ha” moment is a prized possession for every teacher. You know, that moment when a student finds his/her passion, hooks on to an enlightening idea, or engages in a topic with such astute critical thinking that he/she becomes an expert.
For Edcamp organizers, this is the same way we feel when we meet teachers excited by an Edcamp for the first time. In 2010, the “a-ha” moment arrived when educators realized that, much like students, we can take ownership of our own professional learning. The Edcamp “a-ha” has been repeated over 550 times in dozens of countries.
We Edcamp because we care about kids.
The world is changing. Fast. Learning used to be isolated and linear. Today, however, modern technology has fashioned a learning environment with boundless access to information and people. In short, learning has become connected. The ways that we were taught (way back when) won’t cut it for our kids.
We care about kids and know learning has to change for them. Edcamps help us to discuss the shifts that are needed, experiment alongside other practitioners, and share stories of best practice.
We Edcamp because we embrace a growth mindset.
Learning is never finished. Edcamps allow us to find other like-minded educators to build lifelong learning communities. Edcamp helps educators feel that they are not alone in the journey of teaching. Through edcamps, we find educators igniting their passion, finding enlightening ideas, and engaging in topics as the experts they are. There’s always more to learn and more to improve.
We Edcamp because we know adults need social learning.
We learn better together. The strong bonds that form at an Edcamp continue through many different venues, both face-to-face and online. Twitter chats and blog posts all document the “long tail” learning sparked by Edcamp events. Often, Edcamp events are the beginning of both the friendship and the conversation. We consider our fellow Edcampers our friends.
We Edcamp because we believe educators are the best change agents for schools.
The growth of edcamp has been, in our opinions, astounding! But the expanding numbers aren’t necessarily something to cheer about. While it is amazing to see a network of educators interested in taking charge of their personal learning, the growth is also indicative of the need to “disrupt” the current system of professional development. Open registration for all provides for partnerships and collaboration that would not exist in singular district or school-based professional development. The blank schedule board allows for relevant topics and ideas to surface for the day’s conversation. The law of two feet gives educators the power to determine what meets their learning needs for the day. The current system of professional development still applaudes “sitting and getting.” Sitting and getting information and credits, all of which are determined by the standards of someone else. Teachers are clearly hungry for more, and as a result we should use edcamps as a vehicle for more. Educators must be change agents. Edcamps are a vehicle for that change. It’s intrinsic.
We Edcamp because we are empowered.
Edcamps empower educators to be both learners and experts. They encourage them to take control of their situation and improve their practice. They put kids and teachers first, not sponsors or credits or any other extrinsic reward.
Edcamps are about learning for learning’s sake. That’s the magic. Edcamp empowers.