What is an Ed Camp?
EdCamps are sessions that are informal in nature and are hosted by teachers. These EdCamps are designed for teachers to come together and take control of their own learning. At EdCamps, teachers decide what will be learned and who will teach it. Similar to Personal Learning Networks, the focus of EdCamps is often on allowing educators to connect with one another and collaborate on new instructional practices and technologies. EdCamps are typically free to educators, attendees and stakeholders. They are not advertised in a commercial manner that pushes specific programs or software. They simply provide a learning environment for educators focused on teaching and learning. EdCamps can be hosted by anyone involved in education such as administrators, teachers, district leaders, or educational stakeholders. During EdCamp meetings, any of the attendees can be eligible to present and share their educational experiences and expertise.
A Day in the EdCamp Life
EdCamps differ from place to place, event to event. They are usually based on participant needs and student needs within the surrounding area. Unlike professional development sessions or educational seminars, EdCamps do not follow specific pre-set schedules with sessions with paid presenters and sessions. Instead, participants work together to build a laid back schedule. Since sessions are created spontaneously in a collaborative manner by the attendees and participants, no two sessions are the same. The beauty of the EdCamp design is that educators get to decide what is discussed. Example topics discussed at EdCamps include, but are certainly not limited to;
- Technology tools
- Instructional design
- Collaboration and making connections
- Instructional strategies
- Google Classroom
- Classroom Management
- Response to Intervention
- Student Motivation
- Growth Mindset
- Project Based Learning
Why are EdCamps Successful?
EdCamps are successful for a variety of reasons. First off, EdCamps allow educators to take control of their own professional learning. They provide teachers with the opportunity to meet with colleagues experiencing the same things they do, day in and day out. They are provided with real world collaboration sessions centered around topics that are relevant to their everyday lives. Imagine if you, as a teacher, showed up to a professional development conference and there was no schedule and no agenda! Now imagine that you were asked to help create that agenda. What a sense of empowerment that would give you. I am willing to bet you would return to another EdCamp collaboration!
Where do I Find an EdCamp?
There are many ways to find EdCamps near you. Digital Promise is an online platform that provides educators with information on upcoming EdCamps. The site explains that EdCamps are free and open to all, participant driven, driven by experiences not experts, open to meeting the needs of learners, and vendor free! On the website, educators can both attend and register to attend EdCamps.
EdTech Updates is also a website that houses various publications about EdCamps. Some of the most recent topics include; Powerful Learning at Home with EdCamps, EdCamps and Redefining Professional Development, The Unfaculty Faculty Meetings.
In addition to finding and attending local EdCamps, it is possible to create your own EdCamp style professional learning experience within your school or in your district. By getting educators to collaborate by making their own schedule and sharing their own expertise, you can save money, encourage connections, and help staff feel empowered. These local EdCamps can be shared on social media to get the word out.
If you are looking for a new way to learn and grow professionally, consider branching out from your typical professional development session. Try to organize or find an EdCamp to attend. Take control of your learning experience.