Each Edcamp ends with a grand finale—an educational technology “smackdown.” Participants gather in a common space where audience members take turns showcasing one technology they love. They bring their device to the podium and plug it into an overhead projector to share—in under two minutes—what it is, how it works, and possible instructional applications. Conference volunteers compile a list of all the shared resources, which is then posted on the Edcamp’s shared online space—usually a wiki or a blog.
As a participant in several Edcamps since April 2011, I can’t say enough for the model. My takeaways always reflect my real-time professional development needs. Even when I don’t have time to apply new learning during the sessions, I leave with a list of new contacts eager to review what they shared later on. The shared online space archives the schedule, session notes, related resources, the backchannel, the smackdown record, photos, and a list of attendees.
Even though the gathering occurs in real time, the learning remains accessible in perpetuity. I’ve made great friends through Edcamps—educators I admire, who share my passion for innovation, and who fuel my curiosity. “Giving up” a Saturday for an Edcamp is no concession. It’s a gift.
Michelle Luhtala is the library department chair at New Canaan High School in Connecticut. She facilitates a professional learning community for more than 3,500 school librarians at edWeb.net/emergingtech. She serves on the American Association of School Librarians’ Board of Directors and serves on two Connecticut Digital Library advisory boards. Luhtala is a contributing author to Growing Schools: Librarians as Professional Developers and is frequently published in professional literature for school librarians. She blogs at Bibliotech.me.