I spent a lovely weekend in Barrie, Ontario, this past weekend, visiting friends we hadn't seen in over a decade, and attending EdCamp Barrie. This was my second EdCamp experience, having helped host EdCamp Manitoulin Island this past May, and found it to be a completely different experience.
Which, I guess, if you're going to call something an "un-conference," it would be expected that each EdCamp be vastly different and unique to that setting.
|Photo by @aforgrave|
|Photo by @fryed|
|Photo by @CarolineBlack39|
Though we ended up with a good variety of topics, many were very vague, and we were encouraged to split up into further subgroups as we saw fit.
|Just out of photo: the roaring fire in the fireplace to the left of the group.|
|Take THAT, creeper!! Photo by @exhibit_change|
While I met a lot of people from diverse backgrounds (I had only met two or three participants face-to-face before the event), the experience still felt small. I came away initially feeling unsure of what I had learned - I tend to be a very structured person, so the whole concept of "learn what you want to learn" left me feeling a little uneasy. In retrospect, I know I got a lot out of it, but at the time, I wasn't sure I liked the idea of these unconferences. I thought I wanted something more concrete, but I wasn't sure.
It did, however, greatly prepare me for the EdCamp Barrie experience.
|Photo by @lv2learn2|
|Some of the participants at #edcampb. Photo by @aforgrave|
|Photo by @aforgrave|
|In a session on Math & Technology. Photo by @lv2learn2|
Both my husband and I came away with some amazing ideas to implement over the next few months. We both feel empowered by what we learned, and despite taking up an entire Saturday, we feel rejuvenated by the experience.
There was nothing but positivity throughout the day - from fun activities like the green screen photo booth, to the technology slam at the end of the day, to the upbeat music being played whenever we entered the main meeting space, it seemed people were always smiling. (The poutine truck was also pretty awesome.) I can't wait to experience something like this again.
Back to my RootsThough I had such a great time at this recent, larger EdCamp, I am already looking forward to helping out again with our small, intimate version of an unconference as we prepare to host EdCamp Manitoulin Island again in May 2015 (I doubt I'll get to another EdCamp before then). I have a much better idea of how informal learning like this works, and I'm anxious to both contribute to sessions and absorb from others. You are all invited!
Have you been to an EdCamp before? What did you think of it? Were your expectations met?