I would like to invite you to the Edcamp Edmonton conference which is this Saturday (October 18) at Lillian Osborne High School. I have been on the organizing committee for this “unconference” since the inaugural edition in 2011.
What is an edcamp?
Edcamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs.
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
This post will make no sense unless you read my first #edhashtagology post from last week. Thanks to Bill Ferriter and his creative idea, I had the opportunity to reflect on the hashtags that I use in my own learning and sharing.
Here is how the final bracket looks (I thought I would post this before Spring Break):
I have to agree with Bill when he states that some of the most popular hashtags are being overused and the stream is becoming a little overwhelming. For me, hashtags are used as a filter to find information that is relevant to my own learning. Isn’t that selfish of me?
Here are some general comments that helped me to decide my winners in the bracket:
As a math teacher, I have always found #mathchat interesting. When I find something that is math related, I post to #mathchat. It was a clear favourite going into the tournament. Its toughest game was against #techcoach.
#anthemsmackdown was a ton of fun but since the Olympics it hasn’t had much use.
#rethinkhs is a favourite of mine. In our province, we have government project looking at High School Redesign. As a high school administrator, there is always some good stuff here. Definitely, this year’s Cinderella.
#techcoach contains information relevant to all kinds of technology and its use in schools. As a technology coach for our school district, I share and read lots of resources and cool ideas here. A clear #1 seed.
#ecsd is the hashtag for our school district, Edmonton Catholic School District. This tag allows me to share and get information which is relevant to the school district. The only down side is that, with 90 some schools, the information is sometimes overwhelming and contains information which is not at the high school level. In #ecsd, there are way more elementary teachers using Twitter.
I am very proud to be a member of Connected Principals created by a fellow Albertan, George Couros. I find that I will use #cpchat to post but I rarely use it to search. George is one of the first people that I connected with on Twitter and I have learned so much from him…in person and online. #cpchat was a definite favourite going into the tournament. It has been great to watch the hashtag grow, which shows the impact that George, and other school leaders, have had on the learning of others.
As one of the founders and organizers of #edcampYEG, this tag has always been near and dear to me. I have met most of the people who use this hashtag, so it serves to “keep the conversation going” between our annual local edcamps.
For the past two years in our school district, we have been working on a district project called Transform! This project involves sharing ideas that will better prepare our students for the world in which they are going to live. The hashtag #ecsdtransform always contains innovative ideas which are linked to this project. This hashtag was my winner because it was the one that I have used most in the past year or so.
So there you have it. The end of #edhashtagology for this year. Please roll, “One Shining Moment“!
In his most recent blog post, Bill Ferriter (who is one of my online mentors) has started a game called Hashtag Bracketology. As a huge basketball fan, I cannot resist the #MarchMadness style competition. Bill is right…hastags have changed the learning that is available on Twitter and they have enabled us to “zero in” on certain topics and discuss them as a PLN.
Here is my bracket! To create this, I looked over my tweets from the last few months and I randomly (no seeds) entered the hashtags I used into Bill’s template. I don’t know how I will decide the winner of each “game”. If you click the bracket, it will get larger so that you can actually read it.
I invite you to accept Bill’s challenge and come up with your own bracket.
We just wrapped up our annual Teacher’s Convention…two days of learning, sharing, and attending great sessions by some pretty high caliber presenters. It is awesome to get together with teachers from both school districts in Edmonton, as well as teachers from Ft. McMurray. Every year, teachers are buzzing about the new things that they have seen and learned. For example, a few of my tech coach colleagues attended a session called Raspberry Pi, where they learned about a credit card sized computer which can be programmed to do all kinds of things. They were tweeting their creations during Thurday’s session and when I talked to them on Friday they were still buzzing about how cool it was. Thanks to Daniel Espejo for the great tweets!
Some other colleagues went to a session entitled, “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lecture”, in which Rick Smith described many techniques which could be used to engage students in their learning. After this session, I received a text from one of the teachers on our staff, “It was awesome…would like to do a staff PD on this.”
I attended some great sessions and I had the opportunity to share some ideas with teachers and administrators from all over Edmonton. I had a conversation with another high school AP about some of the things that they were trying at his school. Some of these things, I would definitely like to explore. Many of us were following the #getca14 hashtag and learning things from sessions that we did not have the opportunity to attend…so much good stuff!
This is the best convention I’ve had in 10 years! Thanks to all the presenters and organizers! #getca2014
OK…so we had a great convention and we learned a ton of stuff. Just like every PD session that we go to…now what?
Let’s make sure that we go back to our schools and put some of these ideas into practice. Let’s try some stuff. Let’s share some of this great stuff with our students, and our colleagues! Let’s not just pack away the notes that we took and the ideas that were shared with us and forget about them. How many times have you found the bag of notes and convention trinkets months later totally untouched? Let’s take these ideas back into our schools and grow them in our classrooms! Even if we just take one idea away and try it with our kids…that would be great. Let’s take some risks…let’s make some mistakes…let’s make learning interesting for our students! Let’s keep the positive energy from convention alive in our schools!