I was on Twitter when I saw hashtags from people I follow discussing the #EdcampHome experience. I quickly realized this was an opportunity to attend an Edcamp at home. According to Wikipedia, Edcamp is defined as “a user-generated conference – commonly referred to as an “unconference“. Edcamps are designed to provide participant-driven professional development for K-12 educators”. I have attended a few Edcamps in person and enjoyed them very much. An Edcamp at home, I thought, that is an interesting idea but how is it possible?
I went to the homepage of EdcampHome and saw four amazing educators: David Theriault, Karl Lindgren-Streicher, Kelly Kermode, and Shawn White troubleshooting, discussing and working diligently to put this together via a Google Hangout being streamed live through YouTube and simultaneously embedded on the front page of the website. Tweets were flying and being used to communicate issues, compliments, and questions from educators all over the world who have never met face-to-face. It felt as if I was getting the opportunity to be behind the scenes at NASA during a space launch! I hope you take the time to watch even a few minutes of the amazing collaboration between them. The lengthy video is still on the homepage for viewing for now.
At one point, I tweeted to thank them for all their hard work and to remind them to breathe. I received an immediate response from Mr. Theriault:
Sessions Streamed Live
I found the Session 1 page and clicked to watch a few minutes of the many sessions offered. There were many offerings: Genius Hour, Classroom Blogging, and Augmented Reality to name a few. The presenters and the moderators were informative, helpful, and in the spirit of Edcamp, inspired conversation between all of the participants. I realized Session 2 offerings were happening live and switched to discover the sessions for live viewing.
I clicked to view Genius Hour/20% Time hosted by Elizabeth Goold and marveled at the participants in the Google Hangout as they chatted, questioned and learned together. If I had wanted to participate in the Google Hangout, I could have used Twitter to be invited to be part of the discussion. The sessions could accommodate nine (9) live participants and there were very few virtual seats vacant in most of the sessions. After a morning spent cleaning the garage, I was admittedly a “hot mess” and wasn’t quite ready to take that big of a visual plunge, but I did tweet along and added some information to the discussion.
I joined the closing and the “Slam” portion at the end. I listened as all the participants marveled at the amazing experience. I was surprised to hear many of the presenters had just participated in their first Google Hangout. As informative as the sessions were, everyone, myself included, enjoyed the creative, innovative, intelligent, on-the-fly troubleshooting we got to witness from the organizers as they dealt with unforeseen issues. The Google doc was troublesome initially, with a limitation that only 50 editors at a time are permitted to to view a Google doc.
Power of the Positive
Being a part of this EdcampHome experience was an energizing and enlightening professional development opportunity. The “power of the positive” is the motto I keep hearing in my mind. These positive educators organized this for me, for us, and for our students. Additionally, the many positive educators who joined and eagerly gave up their Saturday afternoon in the middle of the summer to learn and grow (and to avoid cleaning the garage).
Using This Concept in Other Ways
I am grateful to the organizers, the presenters, and to all those who worked so hard to create a revolutionary learning experience for other people (they have never met) and their students. I look forward to watching this concept grow. This concept is similar to attending a face to face Edcamp. It is similar to attending a webinar offered by respected educators. It is similar to a Tweetchat. It has pieces of all of those concepts and merges them together.
I look forward to using this approach of combining Tweeting and Google Hangouts, all being streamed live through YouTube to learn and interact with others. I see the potential to take this concept and use it with students, parents, and other teachers to enable learning, connectivity, and a sense of community in ways we never knew possible. I feel as if I have entered the Jetson age! Now, if Rosie the Robot could come and clean my garage…I would be all set!