Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hosting edCamp Was Like My Wedding

It seems only appropriate that I write this on the Saturday of ISTE2015 in Philadelphia, for it was on June 25, 2011 that edCampIndy was "born". On what would become one of my "Top Ten Days of PD Ever"* I heard Kristen Swanson speak at TEDxPhillyEd 2011 on Penn's campus.

On the ride back from Philadelphia, AISLE President Denise Keogh and I made plans for the initial edCampIndy. AISLE (Association of Indiana School Library Educators) wanted to host a summer conference, but hosting a traditional conference was becoming very difficult financially, and we embraced the ideas of a participant-designed meeting.  Our summer workshops were already including educators outside the library realm, so edCamp fit that as well.

The fourth annual edcampIndy was held June 12, 2015, and as AISLE past president, I was the chair. We were able to hold it in my district at Raymond Park Middle School/Intermediate Academy. So many details ran in my head for months. For one reason or another, the things I lost the most sleep over:
1) Would we have enough sponsors? (I never worried about this until I was the chair this year.)
2) Would the wifi hold up? (Our tech department worked all of this out for us.)
3) Would enough people show up? (155 registered; about 90 attended.)
4) Would enough people volunteer when it was time to build the board?

The Fourth Annual #edCampIndy at Raymond Park Middle/Intermediate
As the people started to roll in, it really hit me: I knew most of the people coming, from several different walks of my life.  What a unique privilege to have co-workers, others in the district, librarians from across the state, friends, and others all in one place, meeting and interacting with one another. I even saw my daughter's second grade teacher for the first time in many years. As it would turn out, just like my wedding, I didn't begin to have as much time as I would have liked to talk to them. I also didn't get enough pictures (and why didn't I periscope?) I met several people face to face for the first time whom I've "known" on twitter for months, including some #BFC530 chatters. 

Fortunately, I have attended several other edCamps, including 3 in Chicago. At their most recent one on May 9, the organizers generously shared their google doc to organize just about everything in one place. All I had to do was make a copy. Our final document with links to our sessions can be found here

Of course, we had glitches, leading to recommendations we will make for next year. They include:
1) Somehow, in modifying the google doc to add session titles, some of our links to session notes disappeared.  I had qr codes plastered everywhere, but should have included the short url.
2) We should have had Tshirts to make it easy to find one of us. We had a session about google apps and extensions that ended up without a facilitator and attendees had trouble finding one of the organizers, scattered across sessions.
3) Although sessions are proposed by attendees, we had so many first time edcamp attendees that many were hesitant to come forward to propose a session. I had a few panicked moments where I was afraid our board would be half full.  Then some people stepped forward to get the ball rolling.  The same thing happened with our smackdown, which eventually turned out great! We could have "pre-arranged" a few more sessions that we knew would be of great interest since we had so many rookies.

4) Serendipitiously, I came across a video from Wes Fryer showing how to use google forms to email participation certificates using the autocrat addon.  Somehow the sharing permissions are still a bit muddled, so I need to figure that out. Although I thought everything was created in one google account, sharing permissions sometimes point to another, but overall, it was fun to use!
5) We should have included some students.

As with any special event, it took many hands stepping in, including MSD Warren teachers Becky Taylor, Krissy Carson, Jennifer Atkinson, and Roberta Kuonen. Krissy, as media specialist at Raymond Park, helped before and after with many setup details, including equipment. AISLE members Michelle Houser, Gigi Shook, and Denise Keogh jumped in several times to help during edCamp.

My overwhelming feeling when edcamp was over: gratitude that I had the opportunity to be among so many dedicated educators, many of them old friends, and all of them future connections.

*With ISTE in Philadelphia in 2011, I had the opportunity to do all of these in one day: ISTE Unplugged (for a little bit), Discovery Education at the Science Leadership Academy (a school I had wanted to see for some time), TEDxPhillyEd at Penn, and the ISTE Affiliate reception. The conference itself had not begun, and I had already learned enough to make the trip worthwhile!

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