Edcamp Baltimore will be held at Johns Hopkins University-Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy on Saturday, September 27th. Edcamps are cropping up all over the United States as viable alternatives to traditional education conferences.
What is an edcamp? While you can find many answers with a quick internet search, you have to attend one to truly understand their value. Here are my top five reasons for attending an edcamp. Are there any that you would add?
1. For Educators, By Educators
Edcamps are conferences developed by educators for educators. Have you ever attended a conference and found that the content was lacking? Edcamps reduce the chances of that happening. Edcamp attendees tend to have common interests around the best teaching and learning practices. You’ll get tips that you can use immediately back at your school.
2. Agenda Created by the Attendees
The agenda for an edcamp is created on the spot. There are no pre-planned programs and usually no keynote speakers. Edcamp sessions are proposed by those who attend. You can propose a session on a topic that you would like to learn more about and see if anyone in attendance has expertise in that area. You can also propose a session on a topic that you would like to lead.
3. They’re Free, But You Can Buy Lunch and Cool t-shirts
Nothing beats free! You can spend an entire day with little or no cost to your bank account. Most edcamps offer lunch, if you need it, and who doesn’t want a cool edcamp t-shirt to show off to their colleagues!
4. You’ll Grow Your Personal Learning Network
As strong as our colleagues may be, educators can only benefit from connecting with those outside their usual travels. Edcamps can be springboards for professional growth. Through social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) we can find the creative teaching ideas that flow from a highly motivated group of learners. Many edcamp participants backchannel their learning by tweeting out ideas and resources using the edcamp’s hashtag (#edcampbmore). If you can’t attend an edcamp, find a hashtag to follow!
5. The Model Easily Translates to School-based PD
The edcamp model is quickly becoming a professional development alternative that can be used at the school level. Many schools are running their own versions of edcamps to promote the value of learning from each other. Teachers enjoy and benefit professionally when they learn from their peers. Our schools are full of teachers who want to contribute to the success of their schools. Edcamps give them that opportunity.