Tuesday, April 14, 2015

EdcampGlobal: Be Part of Something BIG

Dear Teachers,

I'm in on the ground floor of an amazing adventure, and I just have to tell you about it.

Just a little over three weeks ago, I found out that a couple of friends from a neighboring school district had come up with an idea that, frankly, is pretty genius. Jaime Donally and Deb Atchison were doing that talking, imagining, DREAMING thing and came up with the idea to expand the concept of an edcamp. Many of you reading this blog may know already that Edcamps have become quite a thing with educators lately - hundreds of teachers show up to these "unconferences" and learn from each other. There is no keynote speaker, and no particular agenda; the topics are decided on by the group, and are facilitated by members of the group. You can read more about "regular" edcamps here.

What Jaime & Deb came up with is edcampGlobal - working to get educators from ALL OVER THE WORLD to connect and collaborate together. The idea is that the event will take place online over 24 hours (8pm-8pm CDT July 31-August 1), covering all time zones and (hopefully) a large number of countries. We are also hoping to secure a location in the DFW area so that local participants can meet up at a physical location and share the excitement and learning in person. EdcampGlobal has taken off like crazy - in less than a month, over 700 followers on Twitter, over 300 registered participants on Eventbrite, and many of the participants have already signed up to be facilitators of sessions. We also have a few additional collaborators from other states and countries who want to make edcampGlobal a success. I'm not sure any of us could have predicted how this thing has taken off, and once again I am awed and humbled by the opportunities my current job has provided to me. What could be better than getting to work with enthusiastic, knowledgeable people to create something huge and (hopefully) historic? It's incredibly fun and energizing to be part of the planning for this event!

So in case you're wondering, here's how it's going to work. In a face-to-face edcamp, the decisions about who is going to facilitate what are made the morning of the event. As the participants gather, people contribute what they would like to learn about as well as what they would be comfortable facilitating, and the schedule is built based on those preferences during the first hour or so of the edcamp. With edcampGlobal, we have to do a bit more advance planning; it just wouldn't work to try to put together 24 hours worth of learning with hundreds of people at the last minute like that. So we are already getting people to tell us what they are interested in learning about, and encouraging participants to volunteer to facilitate something. That is the edcamp spirit - learning about what you want, from other educators who are passionate enough about the topic to step out and lead a discussion about it! But we need to have the schedule arranged ahead of time so that people will have plenty of time to choose from among the many topics that will be addressed. That’s why we’re starting early to recruit facilitators.

Facilitators will select the platform for their session. So you might see a Twitter chat, a conversation via Google docs (love that translate feature, folks!), a Facebook page, or a Google Hangout. Canvas has agreed to let edcampGlobal use its LMS during the event! We were playing around in the office yesterday with a new app called Periscope that might work, or a facilitator might choose a tool like Nearpod to communicate with participants.   It's completely open! How cool that these global connections are even possible - talk about an "R" on the SAMR ladder!

I hope I have conveyed to you the excitement that is building, and that you'll want to join us for all or part of the event on July 31-August 1. Here are all the details you'll need to keep up with the exciting things going on at EdcampGlobal:

Events like these are successful because of the participants. Judging from the Twitter chatter, this edcamp is going to be phenomenal! I hope you'll take advantage of the opportunity to join us so that you can say, "I was a part of that, and it was BIG." 



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