Edcamp model- PD with a difference.

Since our school has introduced our 1:1 laptop program, Technology leaders and other staff having been running Techtalks. Techtalk is a tech based PD for staff to learn new tools that they can use in the classroom to enhance student learning. When I was first asked to do a Techtalk I was terrified. True I was a Technology Leader but speaking in front of my colleagues made me nervous. I can speak in front of 50 students (my own class) but speaking in front of those who had more teaching experience was terrifying. I hated public speaking as I wasn’t confident in sharing my thoughts and ideas with my peers. It was easier talking to students. When I did my first PD on Blendspace, I was shaking but managed to get through the session and was able to work around technical difficulties.

As our PD sessions at school have continued, the numbers dropped as more staff became confident with using technology in their classroom. Now we only get a small group of staff attending who are still not confident. At times if the Techtalk is about our Learning Management System (LMS)- Compass then more staff will attend as it has only been introduced this year.

The Technology for Learning Leader has been suggesting ways of developing PD that will attract more staff. Until now I’ve stood back and just agreed with her. Until I joined Twitter, I have not voiced my opinions but have readily agreed to back anyone’s ideas. However Twitter has made me more confident about sharing my ideas and last Friday I took the plunge and I told her that I wanted more out of our PD sessions at school. We tossed a few ideas around and she saw that I was interested in the Edcamp model and gave me the responsibility of organising a mini-Edcamp at our school before we tried one in our region.

So what is an Edcamp? According to Edcamp.org “Edcamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs.” It’s one where the agenda and the sessions are set by educators on the day. At the start of the day teachers write down topics that they are interested in on sticky notes or other pieces of paper. Then in a big room they organise their notes on whiteboards, according to topics and from there sessions are created. Best of all Edcamps are free to attend. This way educators talk about ideas that interest them instead of being lectured to for an hour or more after the school has  paid a fee. To me, this is ideal because the topics are not dictated and staff can get more involved in the learning that they want to do. Topics are not focused on one particular subject – instead it can range from giving students a voice, use of technology or developing a PLN. Anyone can be a presenter or it can be a group discussion. The “law of two feet” allows people to find the sessions they want to learn from and to leave for another session if they aren’t learning anything new.

Having found myself given the responsibility of running an in-house Edcamp, I decided to get on Twitter. After all that is the quickest way to get help from other educators around the world. I’m amazed at how people I’ve never met face-to-face (F2F) are willing to share. Luckily for me, #satchatoc’s topic this week was “Edcamps” and I made sure I asked questions in addition to answering the set questions. Already I’ve had offers to talk via Google Hangouts (GHO) and will be even added to another teacher’s shared google docs so that I can see what they are doing and ask questions. In just an hour, I’ve picked up a lot of  information and tips on how to create one. I’m excited and my next step will be to write a proposal to submit to the Technology Steering Committee at school and see what happens. It will be a lot of work, running around and gathering information- but I’m ready to take on this challenge. I’ve learnt that I need to get past my fear and now start to show initiative in organising changes that I want to see happen at my school.

References:

The Edcamp Foundation | We Build and Support a Community of Empowered Learners. Web. 27 July 2014 http://edcamp.org/

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