I love to learn! Early on in my career I saw the importance of staying in the learning process. Over the years I have found ways to seek out knowledge on my own. I joined yahoo groups, engaged in educational chats on the Professional Readers Teacher board on Teachers.net, and I read professional books. I have always been a seeker.
The last year opened new doors to me for learning. I spend a lot of time in twitter chats and through that I began to hear about edcamps. I went to my first a year ago. It is in some ways like what I have found through professional reading and twitter chats, but with a little extra.
It is a gathering of minds. Each there to learn, grow and change. You go without an agenda, your fuel is the desire to come away changed.
This last weekend I went to my third, the first away from "home". It was in Clearwater, Florida and called Edcamp Tampa Bay. After being on twitter a while, you start to discover there are some education heroes who you really connect with and challenge you. I went into this one with an excitement because several of those were going to be there.
One thing I saw new at this edcamp was when we arrived. We were given two post it notes. A pink and a blue. One to list something we wanted to learn, another something we can share. I am getting closer to wanting to share, but Saturday I was there to learn. The agenda for the day was created based on those post it notes, and it was built that morning. How cool is that??!! The other edcamps I went to also collected the post it notes, but there wasn't that differentiation. I thought that made it more valuable and based on our needs.
The sessions were fantastic, the learning great. The sessions I didn't attend, I can go and look at the notes because we were all connected via Google docs. In fact. many who were not there were also participating through tweets, notes on doc and periscope. The sessions are not power points, or someone talking to you. It is a group of educators sharing and building on each other's experiences. It is inspiring, challenging, and creative.
Even better, all this learning...it is free. Sponsors provide meals and also prizes...sadly I didn't win.
What would I add if I could? I would have loved more created opportunities to connect face to face. I haven't quite figured how to move from an online PLN to that face to face connection. I am a little shy in social situations. I had such an opportunity here to connect in person with some amazing people, but I didn't. So, the only thing I walked away disappointed in was that I missed that opportunity. How can we create opportunities for those who need them?
As far as edcamps...I am hooked. It is unique, learner orientated and it is current and up to date learning. Haven't done one yet? Go...you're missing out!