Localizing Learning. The Edcamp Model
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Localizing Learning. The Edcamp Model

Localizing Learning. The Edcamp Model

Ever get the feeling that the professional development (pd) you get in your in-service days just doesn’t inspire you? Or drive your practice? You’re not along. A few envisioned something a bit different.

Edcamp founders and organizers Kristen Swanson, Ann Leaness, and Christine Miles began their ASCD12 session with two things:

1. A backchannel discussion board, inviting participants to engage, immediately.

2. The below slide:

Professional development (PD) programs for teachers frequently . . .

Are not learner centered.

Are not knowledge centered.

Are not assessment centered .

Are not community centered.

These contrasting elements — PD of relatively minimal use to educators, and more importantly, for students vs. PD that involves and engages participants — served as an apt starting point for a presentation that inspired hard questions, numerous comments, and no shortage of inspired educators.

Edcamp aspires to solve the problem of out-of-touch sit-n-git PD by giving teachers the opportunity to learn together. Kristen says, “It is flipping PD. It’s anytime, anywhere learning using social media tools.”

Participants arrive on site to find a blank schedule. Attending educators sign up to present their content, creating a schedule on-sight that comes about organically and engages teachers with the concerns and expertise in attendance, effectively individualizing the experience.

The “sessions” are then built around those generated ideas and topics. Participants in the sessions are both leaders and learners. Everyone interested interacts together, building ownership over the content and conversation, and finding in the process that they learn about things that directly impact their practices in the classroom.

The benefits of such a format are many.

  1. Teachers learn together, creating and cultivating and sustaining a culture of learning.
  2. Builds leadership within the ranks of the profession.
  3. Connects educators to discuss, dissect and
  4. Reflects the needs of a community of learners.
  5. Models the behaviors we want to see from teachers in the classroom.
  6. Changes the culture of the school and community.
  7. Building relationships within one’s community.
  8. Localizes the learning to address and meet the needs of the students in that district/school.

Along the way, teachers enhance their practice, not through sit -n- git, but from engaging and collaborating with others, concepts, ideas, and actual pedagogical practices that work. Here is a model that does so. It creates an open safe place, builds the camaraderie among teachers, and cultivates learning as an integral part of a school and community’s culture.

Josh Stumpenhorst, a 6th grade teacher in Chicago, shared, “Even the ‘bad’ teachers in the faculty were engaged when we did #edcamp style pd on campus.”  It’s a model even the staunchest edrefomer could get into.

Want to learn more? Check out this great video below and read Mary Beth Hertz’s “Introduction to Edcamp” on Edutopia and Kristen’s Storify with the presentations slideshow, videos, and discussions.

Image: Philly Teacher



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