Top Ten Reasons You Should Attend a Barcamp (especially edcamp PHILLY!) by Kevin Jarrett

10/21/2011 1:18:16 PM

{Cross posted on TechLearning Advisor Blog}

barcampphilly2Barcamp? Eh? It's got nothing to do with alcohol or the great outdoors - but it has everything to do with community, teaching and learning. A 'barcamp' is an informal, user-driven conference. They are happening all over the world. Yes, right now! I had my first-ever barcamp experience back in November 2009. Philadelphia's second annual "Barcamp Philly" was fantastic; I have the photos to prove it. The most amazing part: a group of like-minded teachers magically came together that day and envisioned hosting an event of our own - a barcamp just for K-12 educators ... and lo, edcamp PHILLY was born:

Yep! On May 22nd at Drexel University, hundreds of educators (we hope!) will gather to meet each other, discuss issues, trade tips, ask questions and get answers ... while we recharge, regroup and refresh our minds. Everyone's welcome, but if you're nearby and available, please register now, we expect the event to sell out well in advance! Ok, but what exactly is a "barcamp," and why would you want to go to one? According to Wikipedia, Barcamp is “is an international network of user generated conferences (or unconferences) - open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants.” Well, ok - but don't participants provide content at ordinary conferences? That's true, but it's probably the only thing a "regular" conference has in common with an unconference. Allow me to explain, and in so doing, help convince you why should you attend a "Barcamp" (especially edcamp PHILLY): Money! Creative Commons License photo credit: Tracy O

Reason #10: It's free

In case you haven't noticed, school districts everywhere in this country are in the midst of a paralyzing financial crisis. Jobs are getting cut, budgets are being slashed, expenditures in every area are being scrutinized. Thinking about asking your district to send you to a conference? Good luck with that. As a dedicated lifelong learner yourself (I bet you're reading this blog outside of normal school hours), you are already accustomed to learning on "your dime, your time." No one expects this sort of learning to replace district-sponsored professional development, but, taking advantage of high-quality, FREE learning opportunities when they present themselves seems to make more sense than ever. Lane Change Creative Commons License photo credit: urbanwoodswalker

Reason #9: It's (often) local

Barcamps spring up all over the place on a regular basis. Chances are you won't have to drive far to attend one. (Better still, you could follow your lead and organize your own...) Local gatherings give you the opportunity to connect with other educators who are dealing with the same local and regional challenges - chances are, they have some ideas that work, and that could work for you, too. Austrian Boat Show - Boot Tulln 2010 Creative Commons License photo credit: robert_hornung

Reason #8: No "Boat Show"

Not to take anything away from huge national mega-conferences (it's an unfair comparison really) but personally, I'm appalled by the wretched excess often displayed at these events in exhibit halls by the educational-industrial complex. Sorry. Just had to get that out there. I know this is America and capitalism drives our democracy, but, there's something to be said for a conference experience that's not defined by huge-dollar displays of the latest classroom technology. Howsabout we focus instead on real people solving real problems in real classrooms every day? There. That's better. Cupcakes Creative Commons License photo credit: sfllaw

Reason #7: There's food

An army moves on its stomach, and the same could be said for any large group. Barcamp organizers know this. While you should expect to get lunch on your own, Barcamp organizers work hard to ensure there will be breakfast (and usually snacks throughout the day) to keep you recharged and focused. this photo needs a title Creative Commons License photo credit: vanz

Reason #6: Interesting, creative, hardworking people - like you

Okokok, so these people go to "regular" conferences too ... but there's something different about your typical Barcamp attendee. First, see Reason #10. Barcampers come because they want to learn and have something to share in return, not because someone's paying their way. "Self-selection" means that a typical Barcamper is likely to be driven by their quest for knowledge and self-improvement - they are giving up their own time, after all - and in my experience, these folks are the most fun to have in an audience! He gets around Creative Commons License photo credit: Travis Isaacs

Reason #5: Barcamps are edgy

Ohhhhh, yesssss ... geek chic all the way, baby! No seriously, as a card-carrying middle-aged member of the wanna-be-cool-as-a-college-kid set, I admit it, I enjoy surrounding myself with people whose opinions and attitudes make me think critically about my methods, approaches, and results. If you're looking for conformity and groupthink, a Barcamp isn't for you. If new ideas and approaches get your juices flowing, you'll be right at home. BarCamp Quito 09 Creative Commons License photo credit: calu777

Reason #4: Connect in person with people you know online

The "personal" in "personal learning network" can be interpreted to mean "I know this individual in real life." A Barcamp is a great way to get to know someone you've been learning with online! Since the atmosphere is relaxed and conversational, there are plenty of opportunities to get to know other folks. You just don't get the "rushed" feeling you do at a large conference. DSC_3397.JPG

Reason #3: Conference participants determine the schedule - that day

Sounds nutty, I know. (Go ahead, tilt your head sideways like a puppy trying to understand.) Picture a big room with a board in it. People walk up, grab a 3x5 notecard, and write the name of the topic they want to talk about on the board. This information is put online, and the schedule for the day is set. Other people check this online list, make their choices, then scamper off to their assigned meeting location. Learning commences. Run little man, run Creative Commons License photo credit: thomascrenshaw

Reason #2: The Rule of Two Feet

Have you ever been to a conference presentation, seated amidst a sea of closely-arranged chairs, only to discover the topic (or presenter, or something else) is not to your liking, but you are TRAPPED for the balance of the meeting time? Yeah, been there, done that. As someone who presents a lot, I admit, it's hard when someone gets up in the middle of your talk and walks out. It's just something that people don't do usually. Here's the thing: BARCAMPS ARE DIFFERENT! It's EXPECTED and ENCOURAGED that you move in and out of sessions WHILE THEY ARE HAPPENING. Think about it. How can you possibly decide which session to attend, in a matter of minutes, and based on a cryptic (and probably esoteric) title? Barcampers know this. So people who need to leave do so, and no one thinks anything less of the speaker, or the attendee. Trust me! It's true! DSC_3465.JPG

Reason #1: Relaxed, informal learning at its best

I dunno, doesn't the picture above look like a bunch of people having fun learning? When is the last time you were able to do that at a national conference? (What, sitting on the floor bothers you? It's okay. We've got chairs too.) Photos don't do it justice. You have to experience a Barcamp to see what I mean! Wow, this post turned out way longer than I intended - so let's wrap it up here. If you have a chance to attend a Barcamp, particularly an education-focused event like edcamp PHILLY - you owe it to yourself to see what the hubbub is all about. In exchange for a little bit of your time, you can expect a rate of return far in excess of your investment! Hope to see you at Drexel University on May 22nd for edcamp PHILLY! -kj-
comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...

Boston