We took part in a revolution yesterday. There weren’t any protests, or weapons, or even any shouting although the exclamations of joy when certain technology worked were audible. No blood was spilled, no country changed hands, but the landscape of my professional world, the world of education and professional development, shifted considerably. Yesterday was the earthquake, and I am looking forward to the aftershocks.
At noon yesterday around 200 people took part in the first ever Edcamp Home organized by Shawn White, David Theriault, Karl Lindgren-Striecher, and Kelly Kermode who came up with the idea during a twitter chat last spring. They wanted to create an edcamp that people from disparate parts of the country and world could take part in online using google hangouts. So after what must have been a herculean task which included getting people to sign up, finding tech savvy moderators, and adapting bits of technology like lino which they used to create the edcamp board, we all signed on for what would be one of the most inspiring, exhilarating, and wonderful professional development experiences I have had the pleasure of participating in.
Our organizers live streamed their hangout to give the opening statement and provide us with information we would need for the day, and then they stayed online for the entire 3 hours:
Watching the organizers troubleshoot was perhaps the best part of the entire day. When the board creation and session voting took longer than expected, we all kept the energy going on twitter, stayed tuned and positive, and kept the can do attitude that made the day an incredible success. No, the technology did not work perfectly. For example the sign up was a bit difficult because google docs will only allow 50 people on the document at once without slowing down and making the board took a while because so many of us were on it creating as one participant said a “brainstorm” so large that the organizers asked us finally to stop, but it just didn’t matter. Being able to watch our four intrepid leaders figure out the problems and undo the kinks was incredible because it gave us the experience all educators want which is to bear witness to learning in action. Furthermore we also got to see our leaders “fail forward,” a term Karl coined and see the vital role failure, especially when dealing with technology, plays in the learning process and in ultimate success.
For me personally, watching the “hot mess of learning” take place gave me the confidence I needed as a hangout “virgin” to volunteer to facilitate a session on paperless classrooms and ended up doing two. Which again thanks to our fantastic moderator Rae Faering you can watch below:
Talking with other teachers from California and Missouri was spectacular, and I look forward to hanging out again in the not too distant future. There were many take aways from our conversation which I will blog about at a later time, but the most important thing I took away from the experience of the sessions was just how much better we all can be when we are able to share, learn, and engage with other passionate educators. As Karl said in his blog post, we are just all #bettertogether.
The format of all edcamps is a democratic one and I think that is what I like best and what makes it revolutionary. Edcamphome gave even more power to the participants because we could engage on so many different levels and in so many different places including twitter, today’s meet, and the website which acted like a hub . Everyone had the ability to shape the experience of all through their participation. Everyone’s ideas were valued and voices heard either in the hangouts, on twitter, or through the backchannel. We were empowered by each other, by the event, by the ideas we heard, and by participating in a groundbreaking event that is sure to transform professional development opportunities for years to come. I can’t wait for edcamphome 2, and I anxiously await the other aftershocks of this momentous event.
For Futher Reading:
You can also visit the google+ page here