If I were to sum up my experience at Edcamp Vancouver I would say it exceeded my expectations by a long shot! Now don’t get me wrong, I expected to have a great day, but it was better than I anticipated and well worth the drive down to Vancouver. Darcy Mullin (@darcymullin – see his reflections here) and I made the trek to Vancouver and came away convinced that the Edcamp format is the way to take any initiative to scale through embedded, self-directed professional learning.
I think it would be a mistake, however, to say that we never need an outside expert or an organized conference. I think there is value in having an “expert” begin the tough conversations, provide inspiration, or develop the necessary fluency and capacity within a school or a district; I think there is still a place for that. We all have expertise, however, we may not have the expertise in the specific area we are interested in implementing and/or growing. The one-time pro-d sessions fail not because there is something inherently wrong with that format; it’s because once we experience that one-time pro-d we do very little in terms of contextualizing and embedding the big ideas to suit our context. Sometimes we need to be nudged or inspired by someone else, but once we are it is up to us to take it as far as we can.
If we want any of our initiatives, processes, programs, practices, or ideas to go to scale and be sustainable then we have to become far more self-reliant and determined to lead our own professional growth – this is where the Edcamp format undoubtedly plays a major role. The choice in topics, the collective expertise and experience in the room, and the enriching back channel chats on twitter were inspiring. Meeting many of the people I’ve connected with on twitter was also great.
Choice in what I learn, the freedom to disagree, the synergy of collective experience, and the relationships that develop all make the Edcamp format for professional learning a non-negotiable if we are to move beyond the flavor of the month pro-d and begin to embed the changes that we know are necessary for the next generation of students.
A big thank-you to all of the organizers for a great day. I returned to Penticton energized by what I experienced and hopeful that maybe the thought of Edcamp Okanagan might one day become a reality…we’ll see!