Last Saturday, I attended EdCamp Detroit at Wayne State University. It was a conference designed to bring educators together to discuss technology that works. The format was not typical; it was an unconference, a conference format quickly growing in popularity across the country. You really need to experience it to understand it. The organizers provide the basic framework, the people who attend decide what will be discussed. Thanks to @thenerdyteacher and the other conference organizers!
The people who show up can volunteer to facilitate a session if they want to. They write their topic and name on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall. The conference organizers assign the sessions to specific times (session 1, 2, 3, 4) and room numbers. Attendees show up to the sessions they desire. NO CONFERENCE BROCHURE.
What’s neat about it is that the facilitators do not have to be experts on the topic. The sessions tend to be more collaborative in nature with people sharing experiences and resources on the topic at hand. People go away getting the learning they want and need.
I enjoyed a day of learning and collaboration. I chose not to facilitate a session and it was nice for a change. I am usually the one organizing, facilitating, and leading the conferences I attend. I was able to go to this one with my learner hat on!
Sessions I attended:
- Mobile Learning (Cheryl Lykowski): This session was a great discussion about “Bring Your Own Devices,” and many iPod/iPad apps were shared. Some apps I want to check out include SoundNote, DiscoveryEducation, Bluster, Inkling, and Teachers Assistant Pro. Bookshare is coming soon for students with print disabilities!
- Pseudoteaching (Steve Dickie): I had never even heard this word, so it intrigued me. This was another great discussion and it was all about effective teaching. How do you really know if your students “got it?” Some lessons that seem to be perfect ones actually do not lead to student learning. We discussed the use of video to help students understand. Research from the Khan Academy has shown that sometimes using video that students can easily understand actually lead them to not attend to the content (they think they get it, and therefore do not pay attention). The key is to keep it at just the right difficulty level (students need to be challenged, but not so challenged that they tune out). Keep the students questioning and active. Use frequent formative assessment techniques.
- Edmodo - ”Facebook” for Students: This is an application I have used and like, and I’m hoping that it will be used by several teachers in my district next year. The teacher who presented (sorry, don’t remember her name) uses Edmodo in place of a classroom website. Her school is a 1:1 school, and actually the whole school uses Edmodo. She said that students discovered that they could sign up for a teacher account on the Edmodo website and do naughty things. To prevent this, they created a logon page that takes students directly to the school Edmodo site , not the main Edmodo site. Good to know!
- Google Lit Trips (Cheryl Lykowski) – I’ve been meaning to learn more about Google Lit Trips for a few years now. I found out that there are many that have been created and and ready to be used by educators. They are indexed by grade level and book on Jerome Burg’s blog. Yes, they are ready to go! You can also create your own and directions for making them are also on Jerome’s blog.
I’d like to give the unconference format a try in my school district. I know that we have built a culture of collaboration and that it would work for us if we set the stage right. I can envision this format eventually being used on professional development days at each school, with teachers sharing and learning what they want and need to learn.