The main thing to remember is that you have an opportunity to spend the day with people that want to learn and expand their own practice. The connections you make will be the most important thing you take away from this experience. Push yourself to engage in discussion, meet new people, and share your own unique experience.
Here is an outline of some of the things you can expect to experience at your first Edcamp:
When you arrive, you will see a blank schedule. Have a topic that interests you? An idea you have wanted to know more about? A passion you want to explore with others? Great, add it to the board. These topics will be assigned a room and time. Then, you are on your own! Go where your passions and curiosity leads you!
Sessions are conducted as open discussions, with no presenter or leader, but everyone having an equal voice. It is a place to talk about ideas, ask questions, stretch your thinking, and share experiences. You can jump in when you feel comfortable or just listen. Your comfort level and personality should guide your involvement. Also, don’t worry about missing the conversation in other sessions. Each will have a Google document of shared notes linked to the Edcamp Baltimore website.
My advice here, try to connect with one person in each session. Follow them on Twitter, sit next to them at lunch, or simply thank them for their ideas. After all, the personal connections will last longer than any tip or trick you ever gain.
Law of Two Feet
This is by far my favorite idea behind the sessions at Edcamp. Not feeling the discussion? Getting distracted or bored? Maybe the session is just not what you expected. No problem, use your feet and keep it moving to a new session. No hurt feelings. No one is insulted. You guide your learning.
The Smackdown session is one of the most exciting parts of attending Edcamp. This is a time when everyone attending the events gets an opportunity to share tips, tricks, and resources. It is fast-paced and fun to hear people running through their favorite resources. You are guaranteed to come away with a few new tools to try! The best part, you now also know someone else that knows how to use these tools, so you actually receive two resources. Here is an example of the resources from the Edcamp Baltimore 2012 Smackdown .
Don’t become overwhelmed with all the new terms and lingo you hear at your first Edcamp. Check out this space for some helpful terms and definitions.
Twitter: Online social networking site in which people can engage with one another by posting “tweets” that consist of 140 characters or less.
Backchannel: Real-time, live conversation that takes place alongside and simultaneous to a live discussion. This can involve posting about the live events and discussion on social media sites such as Twitter and Today’s Meet.
Hashtag: Words or phrases that are prefixed with the symbol #. Hashtags are meant to help group and track common ideas or topics as part of ad hoc discussions. Follow and post using #edcampbmore the day of the event.
Maker Education: Focuses on creative building projects with an emphasis on play, investigation, and exploration. The process of making often involves the building, deconstruction, or repurposing of mechanical or electronic systems.
Hands-On Learning: A model where students are actively engaged in the manipulation and exploration of physical objects. It expands beyond the traditional formats of reading, writing, and discussion and creates an access point for the development of other skills and interests.
Project Based Learning (PBL): The use of complex projects to facilitate the use and development of the higher processing abilities of students. It is characterized by requiring the use of student-driven investigation, design, and critical thinking. The teacher acts as a facilitator and guide, while the learning process is driven by student inquiry.
Design Process Learning: An inquiry driven method of instructional facilitation that enables students to develop the problem solving skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The process is defined in six steps: Identify the design or problem principles: Identify methods or means of approach; Select a method or means of approach; Create a model; Test and evaluate model based on the design or problem principles; Refine method or model as needed.
Experiential Learning: Style focused on the conscious process of reflection on doing. It is the process of gaining knowledge from active engagement and evaluation of first hand experiences.
(Check out LEARNING NOW: Defined and LEARNING NOW: Applied for a more comprehensive overview of some of these terms)
Thanks to organizer, Jenna Shaw (@teachbaltshaw) for creating this post!