Wednesday, October 12, 2011

EdcampNYC 2011

I attended EdCampNYC this past weekend. I also attended last years version which was the first year that the Edcamp idea began to multiply in various cities. For those unfamiliar with the ideas behind Edcamp, this is what has been termed an "unconference". An initiative to put professional development into the hands of the teachers. Conference participants are welcome to sign up in specified time slots to "present" a topic for discussion to other participants who are interested in that topic.
The first session I attended was on Google Scripts. I have been interested in incorporating more Google stuff (for lack of a better word) into my teaching activities. It is a great thing to be sitting in a room full of educators who are both interested in being engaged in this level of technology and are also using it. As I remind my students, computers were created to make our lives easier, and can enable us to do more interesting things.
Another session I attended was led by teachers from the School @ Columbia and focused on stuff they do at the school, (stuff being their term this time). Learning is infused with technology and I got to see how the school uses social networking platforms as a way to connect the learning community and how this also provides a continuing 'teachable moment' when discussing digital citizenship and digital footprints.
The sessions I tend to enjoy and get the most from are the ones that are led by educators and teachers who have no shtick or product they are promoting but are truly interesting in either sharing what they do in their classrooms or sharing in a discussion about practices or ideas that interest them. Although I am not certain it was evident at this Edcamp, I wondered if the success of Edcamps might draw more presenters who arrive with pre-packaged presentations where if they are not necessarily selling a product, they are selling "themselves". Of course it would go against the spirit of Edcamp to deny someone a spot, but I hope the teachers and the actual "in the trenches" educators will always outnumber those who are in the education field as promotors of products or ideas that aren't always attached to genuine situations in the classrooms.
Thanks to all those who were instrumental in putting this day together. These are teachers themselves who give their precious and limited free time to organize and produce a rewarding day. I am already looking forward to next year.