EdCamps are led by teachers for teachers. They are free professional development opportunities centered on 21st century learning, practical technology integration and best practice. An EdCamp provides an opportunity for teachers with different skills, abilities, resources and aptitudes to gather and exchange ideas and information. EdCamps are also referred to as “unconferences”; they take an untraditional approach to professional development in that there are no set presenters or topics for the day. People come to the event with questions, experiences, ideas to share, open minds and a zest for learning, creating fertile soil for an exciting conference to bloom. The day starts off with participants expressing what they want to learn, usually using Post-its and chart paper. Then, participants look at the needs and wants of the group; some take on a presenter role of one or more of the identified topics, and some stay in the participant role. Around the gathering area there is usually chart paper with designated room numbers and a time. If one chooses to be a presenter, he or she will write the topic on a chart paper and present in the corresponding room. If one chooses to be a participant, he or she will use the Post-its to attach his or her name to the presentations that are of interest. Sessions are usually around a half-an-hour and take the shape the participants want. The atmosphere at an EdCamp is comfortable and relaxed, so if a session you are attending isn’t for you, simply check out and walk into another session — no one gets offended. The day is really what you make of it: you can present, listen, share, network — the choice is yours! It all adds up to an engaging and exciting professional development experience. For more information on EdCamps go to edcamp.org.
There are a few EdCamps coming up in the Regina area in the next while. I’m part of a group organizing the first EdCamp for Regina Catholic Schools on March 14. The invitation is open to all teachers in all school divisions, and promises to be a valuable day of sharing and learning. We have lined up some special guest participants including Alec Couros, Katia Hildebrand, Kelly Christopherson and Joanna Sanders. For more details follow us on Twitter at @RCSDEdCamp or visit our website. There is also an EdCamp hosted by Regina Public Schools on February 28 (@EdCampYQR) and one hosted by Prairie Valley School Division in Pilot Butte on March 7 (@EdCampPBS). Attend one or all three!