Edcamp KC – What to expect and what to bring

We are just one month away now from the 2nd annual Edcamp KC (Kansas City)! I am really excited that we were fortunate enough to again have another Edcamp KC this year. I cannot believe how quickly the time flies. I believe we were one of,  if not THE first Edcamp to happen in the Midwest. I’m proud of that! I am also very proud to be part of something bigger that is the Edcamp movement happening all around the country. I need to give a big thanks to folks like Josh Allen, Steve Moore, and others that have helped to plan another great day of learning and networking as well as all of our fantastic sponsors. If you’re not familiar with the Edcamp model of professional development, everything is 100% sponsor driven. We do not charge anything for folks to attend, and any logistical cost associated with putting on the event comes completely from sponsor donation. For us, this is how we covered costs such as liability insurance. Through generous sponsor donations we are also able to provide some small giveaways,  a light breakfast,  and lunch for everyone! Yay sponsors! If you haven’t yet signed up to join us please do so now and please share with people in your school, district, and community about this great day of learning and conversing about all things education. Teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community members are all welcome!

What to expect

An Edcamp isn’t your traditional conference. In fact, there’s really nothing traditional about it at all. Our sessions for the day are not published, or even known, ahead of time. That’s right, you’re going into the day not quite sure what you’re going to learn about. Stay with me here, don’t back out just yet! 🙂 Since the day is 100% driven by you, the attendees, that is where the session (conversation) ideas come from. You (plural) are our leaders (facilitators)! What does this look like you ask? When you arrive in the morning we’ll begin with breakfast and some networking time (meet and greet). On the wall you’ll notice a very large piece of chart paper. This will have on it our shell of the day’s structure. You’ll see what classrooms we’ll be using as well as the different session times for the day.

Do you have an idea for a session you’d like to lead or a conversation to facilitate? Simply head up to the chart and write it in for the classroom and time slot you’d like. It’s as simple as that. In a very short amount of time, the session board will be filled with an entire day full of sessions. As Josh Allen calls it, it’s an “old school wiki” at its best!

Now, don’t worry if you don’t have a full blown presentation with slides, handouts, and the like ready to go. That’s not necessary. If you do, great! If you don’t, that’s probably better. There will be a projector in each room for anyone to connect their device to if needed for showing supplemental material. Just because you added the session/topic to the session board doesn’t mean you have to be the only voice during that entire time slot. In fact, we don’t want you to be. This needs to be a learning conversation around a particular topic. We need you to facilitate and give us focus and let the other folks in the room take it from there. Throw together a wiki of information resources as you learn together or build a Google doc. As a group do whatever you need to do to make the learning relevant during the time (and to help make it stick after the time).

So you might be thinking, what if I start in one session and after a few minutes discover it’s not for me? Here’s what you do: vote with your feet. If you’re not getting out of it what you need, go to another session. That’s OK to do during an Edcamp! Traditional conference settings this is usually frowned upon or seen as rude. Not here! We want you to get the most out of your day of learning. It’s your day. If you need to, go revisit the session chart and head somewhere else.

You’ll likely see conversations continuing during lunch and throughout the day. Some may carry over into other sessions, some folks may skip a session to head to the commons area to continue a conversation. Again, while informal and non-traditional, it’s all acceptable.

What to bring

Here are some things you might want to bring with you:

1. An open mind

2. A laptop, tablet, smart phone, or other preferred device. These come in handy for needing to email, tweet, blog, Google doc, etc. during a session.

3. Your passion for education and desire to make it better for kids.

4. A plan for sharing what you learned. We must take these new ideas, information, and conversations back to those that weren’t at Edcamp KC.

5. A friend, colleague, or an administrator! The more the merrier! 🙂

Whether you’re attending Edcamp KC or attending another Edcamp closer to you, I hope you find this information beneficial to get a better understanding of what an Edcamp typically looks like.

Get registered and additional info about Edcamp KC here: http://edcampkc.wikispaces.com

Find out even more about the Edcamp movement here: http://edcamp.wikispaces.com (lots of great resources and help here from my Edcamp Philly friends)

Other Edcamps happening around the Midwest:

Edcamp STL (St. Louis) February 11, 2012

Edcamp Omaha  March 24, 2012

It’s an “UN” Thing

Have you noticed what’s happening in educational professional development? It’s spreading like wildfire around the country. I’m talking about the un-conference. If you’re unfamiliar with the term it’s a planned, yet very informal gathering of educators. The event itself and the location is scheduled well in advance. However, the sessions are not advertised until the day of the event. Why? It’s because the participants of the un-conference are the driving force behind the learning that takes place that day. When attendees arrive that morning, those wishing to present can select a time slot and topic they would like to present on. When all the time slots are filled, the day’s sessions have been planned. It’s then published to share with the rest of the attendees and one then can select the sessions they’d like to attend for the day.

There’s one planned for the Kansas City area, called EdCampKC, on Saturday November 6th. All of the details of the event can be found at http://edcampkc.wikispaces.com. I really feel that this area of the Midwest can benefit from this type of gathering that will allow teachers to learn from other teachers all around our part of the country. We, the attendees completely drive the learning for the day. As far as I can tell, we’ll be the furthest West edcamp to date! Educators from Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Texas, Michigan, Nebraska, and Minnesota are coming so far. That is exciting! The brain power that’s coming is outstanding.

EdCampKC is a completely sponsor driven event. That is how we make this event completely FREE for all in attendance. Sponsors are covering facility costs, insurance costs, and providing goodies and giveaways. If you are interested in either attending EdCampKC or sponsoring EdCampKC in some way, please get registered on the wiki or fill out the form on our Sponsors page.

I am honored and humbled that so many are making the commitment to travel long distances to come to this event, as well as the financial commitment required. I say a heartfelt thank you to all that are planning on coming and I hope the number attending continues to increase over the next 2 1/2 months. I could also not do this without the support from so many in my PLN that have encouraged this event. We have an awesome website, lots of awesome sponsors, and many more that are helping to spread the word. I could not do this alone. Only together will EdCampKC be a success. We’re still 2 months away! It’s only going to get better!