Swanson, Kristen. (2014). Edcamp:Teachers Take Back Professional Development. Educational Leadership. May 2014. 71, n8. 36-40.
Kristen Swanson began Edcamp back in 2010. Edcamp is a free event organized by educators for educators where the scheduling and learning are planned by the teachers for their needs. This first began at another conference when a bunch of educators shared their excitement and passion for educating. This group of people continued to keep in touch over the next few months to discuss, plan and advertise the event. They used media such as facebook, twitter and word of mouth to get the word out.
May 2010 about 100 educators came together and began to share ideas. They started with a blank large sheet of paper and throughout the coffee meet and greet ideas were brainstormed, revised, hashed out and then finally written down. Several of the sessions focused on best practices, a few shared successful lessons, and others explored Web 2.0 tools. It was very laid back type of professional development. Participants were encouraged to walk in and out of sessions based on their needs. If they no longer were interested in they were allowed to walk out and join another session. The sessions were causal and often held in a discussion style. Educators continually took to social media to share what they were learning and comment on the sessions.
Kristen then gave some tips to start your own Edcamp or the ability to go to their wiki page to be able to attend an event. In order to create your own Edcamp, she suggested the following things:
- Find 3–5 like-minded educators who are interested in running an Edcamp event with you.
- Check the Edcamp wiki to learn about other Edcamp events that have happened in your area.
- Find a venue and set a date.
- Get funding and sponsors as needed.
- Tell everyone about your event.
- Take care of the little things.
This is such a different take on professional development. Teacher deciding what they need and then implementing it is a novel idea. I agree with the idea of teachers sharing in their “expertise” or successful lessons. I think the causal format may appeal to more educators and allow more to participate because it is not a formal presentation. I agree with this type of format, but would be nervous about the content or the quality of presentation. The control freak in me likes to have a more organized format and controlled setting, however when you get a hundred people together that are passionate and excited about education and focusing on students’ needs, I only see positive things coming out of it. I think that now is a great time to try something new concerning professional development for educators. This type of method would be that bad to try.