Saturday, April 27, 2013

Edcamps Have Been Hijacked!

Full disclosure first:
I attended an amazing "EdCamp" today and had a fabulous time meeting some awesome people. Many of the people on the planning committee I know at least casually. My gut feeling is they worked their butts off getting this together and many educators left today excited. 
End disclosure

With all that said, I do have a comment to make:

I believe Edcamps as a whole have been hijacked!

That's right. EdCamps are under attack and being stolen from educators all over. By who? People like me. Presenters. Consultants. People who have something to share and are looking for a venue. Wait. Wait just a second. I thought Edcamps were suppose to be about people sharing. Well they are. By definition:


Edcamps are unconferences for educators where learners share their experiences and their professional expertise in a collaborative, interactive learning environment - EdCamp.org

There's a keyword in that definition LEARNERS! Edcamps were designed to be learner driven and collaborative and interactive

You know what I saw today? The same thing I see at other conferences. Presenters (some very seasoned) rushing to the "session schedule" to fill it up with what they wanted to lecture about. In the rooms, those same presenters hooked up their computers and started their canned and ready to go presentations. For the next hour or so, the presenter talked and everyone else listened. **This was not the case for EVERY session**.

Um. What happened to the collaborative and interactive part? Where were the learners asking for what they wanted to learn about? They were sitting in rooms listening to what presenters wanted to talk about. That's wrong. It's all wrong. It's not what the Edcamp model is! 
Edcamps strive to provide space for teachers to learn from each other. They give everyone a voice and a forum to explore new ideas and strategiesEdCamp.org
The very last session today, I sat with a small group of people and we discussed the Edcamp model. We were trying to decipher what has happened to it. We started with a couple of questions we had. Why are there tweets a day or two before an Edcamp with people "getting ready for their #EdCampXXX presentation"? Why has this "interactive, unpredictable format" been taken over and turned into the same experience as every other "traditional" conference? We're honestly not sure. I certainly don't have all the answers for how to return Edcamps to their intended purpose. But there are a couple of things the group noted:

  • Like teaching or any other group activity, Edcamps need solid facilitators who lead by example.
    Start the morning off with a five minute example of what a "session" will feel like. Act it out, play a video, make a parody, whatever it takes. Let first-timers know what to expect and set the tone for everyone.
    **Hint: Everyone gets to participate and have a voice. Everyone has something to share. 
  • Have a facilitator in every room/space.
    They can help ensure no one becomes the glory hound and, if need be, get the discussion started. 
  • Words are POWERFUL!
    There are no presenters. There are educators sharing their expertise. Sharers, facilitators, learners, guides, discussion starter, whatever you want to call them;  they are not presenters. Stop calling them that.
    There also aren't "sessions" in the traditional sense. There are discussions or conversations. 
  • Learners make the schedule. Period.
    It isn't about what a presenter has ready to go. It's about what every single person in that room wants to know. The conversations/discussions aren't focused on someone's presentation. They revolve around the wants and "need to knows" of the group that has gathered. The group/room then fleshes that out through sharing and collaboration. As Dean Shareski always says "The smartest person in the room IS the room". That's a pretty great tagline for Edcamps.
    **Dean got that from David Weinberger's work.**
Out there somewhere, I'm sure they exist in their pure form. You know, EdCamps as they were intended. Sadly, that's not what I'm seeing in practice. 

What's been your experience? Are you getting Edcamps as they were intended or has yours been hijacked?

Post lagniappe:
How then does this thing happen? There are many ways. My personal favorite is to utilize two colors of sticky notes. On one color, everyone writes everything/something/anything they want to learn about. (Every participant is given the opportunity and encouraged to participate). Those go up on the "schedule" and can be grouped and arranged according to interest. Meanwhile, every participant is given the opportunity and encouraged to write on a different colored sticky note what they are "good" at or want to share about. Those second sticky notes are then paired with the first. The schedule is designed about WHAT people want to learn. WHO is around to have that conversation and offer insight and information comes second. It's not the other way around!

41 comments:

  1. At TCEA's Edubloggercon, we gathered first thing and people threw out things they wanted to know about. Then others volunteered to lead discissions on those topics. One person updated the schedule online as it was built. Thay would keep the "pre-preppers" from filling up the schedule.

    I also think the more active social media users might be partly to blame. When Tweets are going out about the "rockstars" in attendance at an event, educators new to this style of conference are bound to be intimidated. They might be reluctant to join the conversations. That leaves room for the more experienced folks to dominate, and lessens the experience for all. My $.02, based on Twitter-only observations.

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    1. Thank you SO much for your $.02 (and I certainly think it is worth way more than that).

      In the discussion the group had, we drew the same conclusion. Twitter is both a blessing and curse. There were first-timers in the group and some did admit there was a feeling of intimation because of the "big names". There was also discussion about not knowing "where to go" because sessions were general titles. They didn't describe WHAT was happening. Most likely because it wasn't based on learner need.

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  2. I agree, I think that these "pre-preppers" are likely to be the edtech people which seems to be discouraging the non-edtech teacher from participating and discussing. I attended the Friendswood edcamp earlier this school year. The first session was very well prepared and less discussion, I did see a lot of participants happy with the information they got, but it did feel more like a big conference type session rather than the unconference one.

    That same edcamp I got the most information out of the discussion session that was truly a discussion among other teachers that are not edtech gurus.

    We are going to plan for an edcamp within the next year and want to keep it just that. I think we are going to try to pick the "theme" and try to really promote it. We want our theme to be not just about technology but about education as a whole, theory, practice, and all.

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    1. Awesome that you are planning an Edcamp and thank you for commenting!

      Our little group had the technology discussion too. Some wanted an experience to discuss strategies, pedagogy, inclusion, etc. They felt lost and not too sure where to go. We attributed it to them not having an active part in planning the schedule. Now whether the fault for that lies with the participants or not is a whole other discussion.

      Good luck with your Edcamp!

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  3. I find your perspective very interesting. As a "presenter," today, I found it hard to determine what to "lead" without knowing what people wanted to talk about. However, the format of today's event was set up to be session centered with those brave or foolish enough to offer left to choose the topics. I like what we did at Edubloggercon better as a format, but I have been to some sessions there where no one takes the reins so nothing happens. Also, since for most educators this is such a new format, perhaps we are all transitioning toward a truly learner centered environment. It will be interesting to see how edcamps evolve.

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    1. You did a great job, having the discussion and not being prepared is exactly what I was expecting by all. I think you are right, it is still a very new idea, and very different. If run like the Edubloggercon, it would be more on the whim.

      Thank you so much all of you,for sharing your knowledge today by the way.

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    2. Thanks for chiming in Amy. It was actually your voice (from a couple days back) that was in my head when discussing having a facilitator in each room. You did a great job in the session I attended today. People asked you answered. Many left happy as a clam.

      Certainly your name falls into the category of seasoned presenters. This post wasn't meant as a slight to you or anyone else who led a session. The flow of this Edcamp led to a discussion that led to this post. Thanks for being there today!

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  4. So, I am also going to throw my .02 in. I am one of those people that am VERY passionate about what I do. I do have a packaged presentation that I enjoy sharing. But.. That packaged presentation garners conversation on my topic. Although there wasn't as much conversation as I hoped.. I think participants walked away with a different way to reach all learners. The EdCamp model offers opportunities for educators and participants to be in charge... Of both their sessions and their learning. More often than not... Teachers don't get to be the expert. .. And this offers that opportunity. I am VERY grateful that I drove 4 hours to attend this!

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    1. Thanks for commenting Andrea. It was so good seeing you today and I too am glad you drove the four hours!

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  5. Thank you so much for this reminder! I totally agree.

    I am in the process of planning EdCamp Surrey (Canada) and I LOVE the idea of a skit/reminder at the beginning!

    Thank you so much.

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    1. You are so welcome! Thank you for taking the time to comment. If you end up with a great skit, please share it out :-)

      Enjoy your Edcamp and good luck planning.

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  6. Kristy,
    Thank you for sharing this great post. I am not very experienced in edcamp, but I did learn from the best! At edcampIowa, Scott McLeod (@mcleod) was an amazing leader. He really explained how to facilitate (not present). He then modeled by leading discussions in several sessions. He gently nudged leaders in other sessions to facilitate and not present. It was an amazing edcamp!

    I'm glad you are asking the questions in this post. I don't want to go to another edcamp and have it be a conference. I loved the unconference experience.

    Thanks,
    Denise

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    1. What a fabulous experience to get to edcamp with @McLeod I have never had that experience. Yay for you!

      Certainly facilitation and encouraging discussions is key. It's encouraging to know others want the genuine Edcamp experience. Thank you for commenting.

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  7. Great commentary. My understanding at an EdCamp was similar to yours. I got a bit frustrated and rather than leave as session, I "interrupted" and put my two cents in anyway. Presenter types were annoyed but I was there for discussion not lecture. The one session I went to that was the true EdCamp format was great...a facilitator who kicked off discussion & then rest piped in. Thanks for your post. SH

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    1. I was talking to another attendee early this morning while the schedule was still being filled in and she said much the same thing. She had been at an Edcamp where a presenter hijacked the session. When she chimed in, she received the cold shoulder for "interrupting". Sad. Edcamps are about the room.

      Glad you stood up for "the room"!

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  8. The best unconferences I've attended are not EdCamps, they are the unconference sessions at Podstock and the unconference portion of TechForum. These are uniquely constructed so that there really isn't an opportunity for any one person to dominate the discussion unless the people participating in said discussion allow it. Any time you have a slot to fill, people will fill it and feel obligated to talk in it. I think you are right and more explanation of what it really is could help - I remember my very first EdCamp, I dominated a session because I didn't know better. If someone had put me in my place or if the organizers had demonstrated what was expected, I wouldn't have to remember my mistake.

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    1. Thank you for your candid and honest response. I find it so very interesting that your experiences have led to a differentiation between the unconference portion of Podstock or TechForum and the way that Edcamps run. That leaves me some thoughts to ponder. Thank you!

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  9. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I share your concerns about EdCamps becoming just another conference. I have seen presentations at conferences I would love to see again, I have listened to presenters present and learned from them, and I have gained information and skills. The thing is, EdCamp is supposed to offer a different way of learning. Sadly, EdCamps can easily revert into conferences of presentations because the familiar and known is comfortable.

    David Thornburg wrote about campfires in cyberspace and the need for campfires (lectures, presentations, conference sessions), watering holes (discussions, peer groups, faculty lounges, hallway meet ups) and the cave (reflection and pondering) To maximize learning. Most conferences provide plenty of "campfire time" and I see EdCamp as a venue for providing more "watering hole" experiences. This is time to share, chat, question, discuss and even debate with peers.

    This format of peer discussion and passion-based learning is important, for our students and ourselves. If the EdCamp model becomes a more typical conference then the opportunities for the unconference style of learning reverts to the hallways and bathrooms and restaurants around the conferences like clandestine secret meetings...

    A couple of simple steps... No names on sessions and schedules. No pre-prepared sessions or presentations, none. Model mini session on stage prior and have strong facilitator/mentors in each of the first hour sessions to get things off on the right foot.

    My comments here are not a reflection on any one EdCamp, I have attended 3 this spring, merely a generalized perspective.

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    1. Thank you for sharing David Thornburg's work. http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Oct_04/invited01.htm
      I have read and enjoy his work but somehow never made the association to conferences and unconferences. Thank you for the perspective and insight.

      I do think you hit the nail on the head that the presentation style is familiar and comfortable so that is what people revert to. They aren't trying to "do Edcamps wrong", it's just all they have ever known. My fear is that there are still so very many first-timers and they leave their first believing that Edcamps are suppose to be presentation style. Thus the very nature of edcamps is polluted before they even get started.

      I agree. It isn't about just the one I attended yesterday. These thoughts and questions have been formulating for some time. It just so happens I had the time and clarity to get it all out then. Thanks Gail!

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  10. Comment (1/2)
    Thanks for writing some reflections on EdCamp Waller. This was my first experience with an EdCamp and I wanted to address a couple of points from my perspective.

    I thought that the schedule creation worked very effectively. Of the 200 attendees, many of them were able to find something that they wanted to learn more about. Each session block filled up nicely and the attendees seemed to be spread out pretty evenly in the classrooms.

    I would love to see a format like the one that you described above, but that's my style. I don't think that works for a lot of people though. Did you see how many people were sitting solo in the auditorium? They were all over the place. There are a lot of introverted people out there that want to ingest information rather than to participate it in.

    In my opinion a good session is one that has some thought behind it and is highly interactive. I didn't get to see all of the sessions to know what was working and what wasn't, but I do want to talk about my two sessions and why I chose the formats that I did.

    My coworker and I led a session on the book Teach Like a Pirate. The session was developed from a book study that we did from school and the 'best of' questions came from that study. We had a Google presentation but facilitated the entire conversation. Judging by the feedback and audience participation I felt that it went really well. Was it planned? 100% Was my name attached to it? Yep I wanted people to know that they guy that actually co-hosts the #tlap chat was there and doing a session. Did I discuss it before edCamp? Yep. I just don't see anything wrong with any of that.

    My second session was to introduce Genius Hour and how that was implemented in my classroom. I had a Google presentation planned out that had all of my talking points, but opened up the conversation at many points during the discussion so that others could chime in. It was a unique session because I believe I was the only person in the room with a class that is doing genius hour. That made me the expert and required me to talk a lot. Maybe I could have chosen a better format, but based on the packed room and feedback I think that most people had a lot of takeaways and felt positive about the session. Was the entire session planned? Yep. Was my name attached to it? Yep. Did I chat it up beforehand? Yep.

    There was point that was made in the article that sessions shouldn't be planned and I just have to disagree with that. Maybe not all of them need to be planned, but you want at least someone in the room to be an expert on the topic. In order for me to be the expert I want to make sure that I have all of my ducks in a row and potential questions answered. For me, that means that I need to be prepared and have some notes over the topic.

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  11. Comment (2/2)
    Outside of the sessions I saw/heard a lot of conversations happening in the hallways and the PLN plaza. People were connecting and learning from each other. The space was setup for that, and I think it worked.

    All of that said, I think there are a lot a great points that were made in the post. What we did at #edcampwaller worked for us, but it got me thinking about some fun things that could happen at future EdCamps.

    Random thoughts for future edcamp organizers

    - The first full hour sessions of the day could be dedicated to a sticky note type session like was mentioned in the post (post what you want to learn about, see if others know about it, split off and go learn)

    - A daring presenter could just write a big question mark on the schedule for their class and see what kinds of conversations come up once the class gets together. I'd be all over that one!

    - Allow 10 minutes for everyone to work the room. The goal would be to find someone that they have never met before that shares a common interest that they could perform a session on. That would be fun too!

    I think that everyone can probably agree that they had a great time yesterday regardless of format. Lots of new connections were made, many more educators joined the online community, and many walked away learning something that they didn't know at the beginning of the day.

    Thanks again for the reflections. There certainly aren't any hurt feelings. Constructive criticism makes everyone reflect and that's a good thing!

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    1. Thanks for the comments. Guess what a near and dear friend loaned me yesterday that is in my purse waiting to be read? Teach Like a Pirate. I'm so very excited about that book!

      About Wdcamps and the post (and the opportunity to discuss with someone who appreciates constructive criticism ;)... the very nature/purpose/design of Edcamps is to foster spontaneous unstructured sharing and learning. It's not a "filling up" of someone else's expertise and information. That is often the case with "canned" or previously built presentations. The road map and destination is already set. We have this much time to get through this many slides because the presenter said so. The room/group is then denied the Edcamp right to set the tone and spontaneous participation. It's not about the speaker's pre-planned talking points. It's about the "on the spot" created ideas and talking points of the room/group.

      We certainly have the right to agree to disagree on whether or not presentations should be planned. Though I do have to note that a pillar of Edcamps is that sessions are "determined on the day of the event". The purpose is to meet the needs of the people in attendance ON THAT DAY. A pre-packaged presentation is easily replicated regardless of who is there because it's not about the people. It's about the content.

      Certainly there was positive feedback from many people. Educators who willingly give up a Saturday to become even better are going to make the most of their time. They are awesome just for showing up in my book! Successful conferences (the traditional pre-planned ones) have much of the exact same feedback you saw. Where was the "different" feedback for what should have been a different model?

      I do have to agree that as a whole the space was great. Coming back from lunch and joining in the PLN lounge was a fabulous time. There was certainly ample space and place for networking, hallway chats, etc. Well done!

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  12. Thank you to those who have tweeted out this post, and to you, Kristy, for taking time to write it and allow us all to keep the discussion going in comments!

    I'seen some sessions some ways, and others other ways. That's why we vote with our feet, right? I did walk out of a lecture at my first EdCamp, because I didn't go to hear lectures. But then I got bold at another and just interrupted to ask the "audience" a question. I was given a dirty look by the presenter, but I'm old enough now that I didn't care (much). I really felt it could use audience inout, so I butted in.

    The rooms there were set up like lecture halls, though. I think the venue makes a difference. I also think there should be a GDoc started at each session, so ppl can add resources and ask questions the entire time. They can also add their twitter handle so they can keep the conversations going long after EdCamps.

    I like the idea of a "how to" at the start, as many teachers are still new to the idea of EdCamps, and don't know how they're "supposed" to be run. Maybe even that could be discussed there. What about having sessions LED be in one color, and sessions for discussions or smack downs of ideas be another color? In fact, "hands on" with a tool could be another color. These could be decided when people suggest a session. Two could be running at the same time (for example... Chrome for beginners - lecture, and Chrome discussions of how you're using it now).

    At any rate, if EdCamps become "hijacked," I'll still attend, as I love to learn from others (and I'll be fine at interrupting), and I'll also "vote with my feet." Hopefully I won't hurt anyone's feelings and still find new friends to eat lunch with me! ;-) Thanks again for posting and challenging our brains!

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    1. Good morning and thank you for commenting!
      I agree that this conversation has been exciting and more than I ever expected.

      Since posting this I have mulled over the premise of "vote with your feet". I love the idea and believe it truly works for today's educators in a pure Edcamp. When discussion is occurring and it doesn't fit your needs, you walk away. We regularly do this in the teachers lounge, at the park, or anywhere else a group of people gather. We don't do it in faculty meetings, formal presentations, etc. For many, it feels very rude to walk out on someone who is in the middle of a spill. "Vote with your feet" works in discussions. It doesn't work for lectures.

      You offered some great ideas like the color coding. Well done! Can't wait to share an Edcamp with you!

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  13. Hi everyone... there is some great discussion on this post. However, there is ONE thing that everyone is forgetting: The Edcamp Event belongs to the EDCAMPERS (even you, Kristy!). The Edcamp design explicitly supports the "law of two feet." Leave sessions that aren't meeting your needs. If you are in a session with a "presenter" and not a "discussion leader" then leave. I have been in prepared sessions, and I have left. (with a lot of others) We certainly can do a better job of educating people on what to expect and how to participate in an Edcamp. But if Edcamp model is going to work, then we all need to take ownership when things get off course. My 2 cents....

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    1. Hey Kristen! Thanks for dropping by :D
      Edcamps do indeed belong to the campers. But I have to wonder if they know? Do first-timers know they have that right? It's more than saying "hey, don't forget to vote with your feet". Many aren't really sure even what that means. It's been a busy day and I have read through some tweets before getting back to respond to you. You are 100% in the tweets. It's all about the education!
      It has been a privilege to have you jump in! Thanks for everything you do.

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  14. I agree with you, Kristen -- it is to be "OUR" own conference experience and what we make/take from it.

    But I have to very much agree with what Kristy so "bravely" decided to post about.

    There are many people who come to EDCAMPS with an agenda.

    Now, in no way am I saying that you should not be proud of what you do, nor in any way be silent if you have something to share.......

    but the premise (at least how I understand it) about edcamps is that they are spontaneous, unstructured, and casual conversations -- not lectures.

    I don't mind at all if someone brings in a powerpoint/haiku/prezi/etc with 1 or 2 slides to jumpstart a conversation -- I don't mind that in the least.

    But if someone comes prepared with a FULL presentation.....and a planned agenda to dominate that section time.....I will use my 2 feet.

    Personally, and this is just me, I decided with my very first edcamp to be quiet.....and to listen and to learn. Sure, I could dominate an entire session with stuff I know.....but I have found -- that the more I am quiet, the more I learn. Plus, it takes guts to speak up -- and some of us (seasoned presenters if I might borrow that phrase) might need to step back a bit -- so others can step up.

    I want to thank Kristy for being brave to hit submit on this blog post. I am glad she opened up the conversation so we could all share our thoughts.

    Jen Wagner

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    1. Thanks for your support Jen!
      I was indeed a little scared of sharing this post and I'm starting to feel the repercussions for doing so. The twittersphere has shed some light on bruised egos and hurt feelings. Neither were my intent. As the discussion has continued both here and in other social media, some have opened up to using this constructive criticism in other Edcamps. Some have been affirmed in what they have been doing. Most are having a reaction.
      Sharing isn't always easy. Learning has bumps along the way. In the end, continued discussions will make us all better educators.

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    1. Wow! So very excited that you dropped by and took the time to write such an extensive post. I was starting to think I really was crazy and the only one who had seen this trend.

      My favorite piece of your blog post is:
      *A great session at traditional conference is quite likely a terrible session at an unconference. Your experienced presenters? That’s going to be weird to them. Let them know that if they’re going to be presenting, they’re doing it wrong.*
      There simply aren't enough "seasoned presenters" leaving Edcamps feeling weird. It's been all over twitter for a long time. "Look at MY session I did at #EdcampXXX" or "This is my session for tomorrow's #EdcampXXX". It's NOT YOUR session. It's the room/groups! You nailed it on the head that a presentation that is great at a traditional conference is likely terrible at a conference. Edcamps should be focused on the people not the content. That's easier to do when remembering:
      **it’s not about you. If you’re preparing a slide deck, or have a bunch of speaking points, just stop. It’s not about you. It’s about the group of people in the room who want to share with and learn from each other.**
      Thank you for sharing it so plainly! Thank you for your thoughts and insight! Happy early birthday Edcamp and may we all be around for many more.

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  16. Powerful stuff here. I've been going to unconferences for over a decade which, just recently, includes edcamps. I was at a different edcamp yesterday and led a session and I have to admit that the very thing that makes unconferences powerful also make them somewhat scary. When you sign up to facilitate on something you want to know about - which I did - it is easy to end up with those awkward moments where there is nothing to say, where the audience are fellow seekers and we have all reached the limit of our knowledge or ability to contribute, where the conversation ends and as facilitator you feel that pressure to create enough discussion that the people who voted with their feet to join you get payback on their time and attention.

    Now, actually, these are all good things (and they all happened to me yesterday) and, I think, are in the spirit of collaborative unconferencing but I can promise you there were moments I wished I had a slide deck and a pat presentation. So I very much understand the temptation to present rather than inquire. However, what I got from the participants was invaluable - a perspective and thoughts I wouldn't have had otherwise.

    In the end, I think, the bottom line is that it felt selfish to ask others to give their time and energy to a conversation that helped me as a learner and where I didn't pay them back with entertaining information. Hm - looks like for me edcamp did its job beautifully and that discomfort was a small price to pay for insight.

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    1. Your thoughts are almost poetic watching them unfold in this comment. Thank you for sharing.

      I think you are right. The style can be uncomfortable but often the learning is invaluable. You bring to the surface another point that is a bit in the DNA of the unconference - the job of the "facilitator". Certainly there is research out there about why we as humans (or maybe an American thing?) feel pressure to "lead". If no names, twitter handles, etc were attached to the schedule, would that pressure disappear? If the group congregated based exclusively on "this is what I want to talk about/ learn about" and the "room" had a vested interest in that, how would the conversation change?

      Maybe we should explore other venues for starting the conversation. General questions on butcher paper (the questions that should have created the schedules for instance). Maybe just a general question about the topic such as "what do you think it is?", "What do you know about it?", "how are you doing it now?", etc. If every participant in the room spent time sharing the answers to those questions, do you think the pressure would be relieved from any one person?

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  17. I kinda sorta prepared an edcamp session at the last EdCampStl. After receiving my first ukulele for Christmas, thanks @di_chamberlain, I have been enjoying sharing my growing appreciation for the instrument with my family and my school. I decided I wanted to bring that joy that we had found to other educators whom I thought might appreciate learning and then sharing themselves.

    I brought a bunch of ukuleles, I had to because it is hard to learn without them. I talked to a few people on twitter that I knew were going to be present (although I didn't completely reveal what my intentions were.) When it came time to sign up for sessions, I simply wrote 'ukulele' and my twitter handle. (Later I was told that without any more description than that, some thought it was a new digital tool that I was promoting.)

    While the session was 'planned' in that I new I was going to have it, I had no intention of lecturing or using a canned presentation. Basically I wanted to share what I enjoyed so much. This of course could not have happend without the preparation I had made. This would not have been possible if I waited until someone asked for it at the edcamp, believe it or not I don't carry around eight ukuleles with me everywhere ;) Sometimes planning is necessary.

    People did vote with their feet for my session, I only had eight people show up for it. Everyone had an opportunity to 'play' with a ukulele, everyone learned how to play an easy song, 'I'm Yours'. Even though the topic wasn't an 'education based' one we spent the time learning together and having a good time. I suspect that they remember that session more than anything else they did that day.

    When it comes down to it, we need to make sure that our edcamp sessions focus on learning, not presenting.

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    1. Well paint my toes and call me Sally! Will stops by and sums up the whole thing in one sentence - "When it comes down to it, we need to make sure that our edcamp sessions focus on learning, not presenting". Perfectly said and thanks for commenting.

      I agree completely. There is a HUGE difference in preparing for sharing something amazing you are doing and showing up with a presentation ready to give. You started with what I call a launching pad. You had something you wanted to share and an idea to get it started but you didn't come with the whole road map and definitive destination in mind. You ended up where the group took you which was apparently 8 people playing "I'm Yours". That's #AwesomeSauce

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  18. What big like about the EdCamp concept is the ability to ask questions and/or common because it's not designed to be a formal presentation past a startup. I'm finding more and more in my classroom that when I follow this type of format & let my groups works together, some of my quieter kids who would never ask a question in a big group will ask me when I come around to check on their group of 3-4. Maybe during the "scheduling" phase, those who have & want to present a canned presentation can clearly state that...that's what some folks need-hear we JH at others are doing and stew on it a bit.

    Thanks for speaking up on this b/c it's really been on my brain for several weeks.:-)

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    1. Thank you for commenting and giving us a glimpse of how you see it with students. I think that with adults and kids alike, we function differently in different groups. When those groups are broken down into smaller segments, we change the dynamic greatly and it seems every one has more of a chance to speak.

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  19. Ok I've been debating wether or not to chime in here. I feel like this post was done in very poor taste. There hasn't been an update on this blog since February and now we have an update about an EdCamp and how much it was NOT like an edcamp? Oh and only minutes after that edcamp ended. As teachers we have enough things tearing us all apart. I was at the edcamp mentioned above.

    - at the beginning the style of edcamps WAS explained in depth and everyone was encouraged to present
    -no one was "running" up to the presentation board. In fact spots were still open!!
    - there were MANY conversational sessions. 5th graders helped lead a session, high school students lead a session, several sessions were just conversation with no pre planned topic. I even remember Amy Mayer starting her session with "what do you want to know about twitter". Isn't that the point of edcamps?? To start conversation?
    - none of us can be everywhere at once and it is HIGHLY unfair to characterize an entire edcamp was canned presentations
    - I also felt like this post was "trying" not to be mean, but frankly many people who worked hard on yesterday and especially those kids who've read this post were deeply hurt. They felt like they did something wrong and that you were telling them they weren't good enough for an EdCamp. I had to explain otherwise.

    Teachers connected. Teachers learned. Teachers shared. Teachers had fun. What more could you ask for? Is there work to be done to make this edcamp better? Of course!!! But why attack it minutes after its over. I ageee in freedom of speech, but this feels highly unprofessional.

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    1. I'm really, really, really, really glad you did decide to chime in. I was watching KellerISD chat last and the twitter stream as a whole since posting this blog. In short order, it became very apparent that some felt attacked or hurt. THAT was never my intention. I did enjoy Saturday and this post wasn't a "rant" about that one day. The subject of this post has been a trend I have noticed for a good while now all over the place. And apparently I'm not the only one....

      I'm rewriting this paragraph. My first draft was what I saw Saturday where I was but again, that's NOT what this is about. This is larger and bigger picture. This is about the feel and flow of Edcamps. It's about a very pillar on which they were designed. It's about the first-timers that never speak up because they don't know they can. It's about the people who are excited because they went to a presentation they had missed at their state technology conference. That's awesome they are excited but Edcamps aren't a replica of state technology conferences! It's about Edcamp attendees, organizers, and a whole having an open, honest conversation about where we are and how we feel about it.

      The result of this post is an ongoing conversation with more than 15 educators here and countless others on Twitter and SM. We have agreed and disagreed. We have researched and went to the Edcamp.org site to dig deeper. We have had chats, DMs, dinner conversations, texts messaging convos, and even email discussions. In the end, we have all learned.

      To specifically answer your question: "What more could you ask for?" For this to happen "Teachers connected. Teachers learned. Teachers shared. Teachers had fun." in a different way. The Edcamp way. The unplanned, spontaneous way. Facilitated by teachers whose name I've never heard who have a new perspective and untold great ideas. For "seasoned" presenters to be uncomfortable and feel "weird". At most every conference I have attended "Teachers connected. Teachers learned. Teachers shares. Teachers had fun."

      Last night, I was discussing this with someone and we came to this conclusion. Removing ourselves, agendas, egos, and feelings, this blog post has generated interest, thoughts, reflections and discussion among so very many educators, Edcamp organizers, participants, and even some of the Edcamp founders. If Edcamps are meant to create conversations, challenge our thinking, and expand our knowledge then it is so very apparent that this Saturday's was a raving success.

      Personally, I'm sorry you felt this was done in bad taste. My apologies to anyone who felt attacked or had hurt feelings. This is indeed my blog that I choose to share with the world. The next post may come tomorrow and it may not show up for six months. That's my prerogative. Like you, I too could not be everywhere and I never said that every session was canned. I wasn't in each one to know. It was not in any way an attack and it was done right after it was over because that's when the ideas where fresh in my mind.

      Thank you again for chiming in.

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    2. Thanks Todd! EdCampWaller was my first edcamp and I loved it. I didn't attend any sessions that I thought were 'canned' I was actually excited that some of the "big" names I follow on Twitter were in attendance and presented. I asked questions and we collaborated about several items at all sessions. I didn't feel that anything was canned.

      After reading this, I felt like someone was mad at EdCampWaller. Personally, I thought it was GREAT!

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  20. Hi Kristy! I blogged about my first edcamp experience http://wp.me/p1Eg3c-7J and then heard about Dan Callahan's blog post on twitter which led me here. I am glad to know that I am not completely out in left field. I went to EdCamp Detroit and thought maybe I was just a failure as an EdCamper because I just didn't see what was so amazing about it. Thanks!

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