Monday, May 9, 2011

Reflections on Edcamp Boston 2011

This past Saturday I attended Edcamp Boston, an "unconference" set in the wonderful Microsoft NERD center overlooking the Charles River in Cambridge. Edcamps take place all over the country and the model involves participants creating their own agenda across the day, with session leaders acting as facilitators rather than traditional "presenters." Another way to say this is that teachers themselves create their sessions based on what they want to learn for the day!

Several days prior, the organizers put up a brainstorming "wall" online for potential session topics. Upon arrival at Edcamp, these are organized into session spaces and times; I popped up a small session:

Then, you just GO.  Edcamp embraces "the rule of two feet-" if a session is not working for you, or you wanted to check out 2 sessions in one slot, you can just move on.  Since it's not a traditional "sage on the stage" model but rather a discussion-based one, this seems really natural. You can get a good sense of what Edcamp is about through this video:

Ed Camp from True Life Media on Vimeo.

I attended sessions on blogging (facilitated by none other than Richard Byrne, one of my faves), what's working/not working for iPad, a spirited interactive "Things That Suck" (and Rock-we got to express our feelings on topics such as grades, traditional school schedule, and seniority by moving to a corresponding side of the room) facilitated by Dan Callahan, Meg Wilson's great session on Mobile Learning, and a Web 2.0 "Smackdown" sharing session.  I learned a lot from all the conversations and my brain stretched.

Other highlights of the day included meeting and getting to know Meg, a special education teacher whom I have admired from afarand from here too, as well as Beth Lloyd, a fellow blogger OT who shares a mutual friend with me and is now apparently the #SLPeeps' resident Occupational Therapist (and has already been asked questions about sensory integration and bras). And it's always awesome to have time to converse with Super-Assistive-Technologist Karen Janowski, whom I am blessed to have in my district.

And by the way, the event was free.

A big thanks to the session organizers- check them out on Twitter:

Dan Callahan

Greg Kulowiec

Karen Janowski

Larry Fliegelman

Laura D'Elia

Liz Davis

Steve Guditus

Most of all it made me want to attend another Edcamp (click here to see where some are being planned) and other unconferences, and made me wonder... As much as I appreciate the ASHA conventions I have been to, and know that type of traditional PD and research-sharing is important for SLPs, I think this model could definitely have a place for us too.  What would an unconference look like for SLPs: SLPcamp? Spuncon? Wouldn't it be great to spend a day meeting like this and sharing ideas, particularly evaluation and therapy ideas? How could we do that?  Hmmmm....

Ideas? Let me know in the comments.


  1. This would so totally fly! Leah and I have been presenting "The Practical Side of Therapy: 60+ years of tips and tricks" at state conferences and the response has been overwhelming. Our sessions are always over-crowded, over-flowing, and people are turned away! Not because we are great speakers, but because of the topic. We receive RAVE reviews everywhere we speak and they all say "This is the kind of session I've been looking for for 20 years." "This is what I come to a conference to find!" There is always enthusiastic discussions from our attendees.

    I sincerely hope this becomes an addition to the customary and usual "sage on the stage" conference!
    Best Wishes with this!

  2. I think it is time SLPs relaxed a bit and went with this model as well. It's not that research or researchers aren't important - it's that discussion surrounding best practice and research is more valuable than being told from on high. We, as SLPs, are so entrenched in the "I lecture, you listen (and MAYBE you can ask a question at the end)" thinking and it doesn't work for everyone. I know that our social media presentation was a controversial one for CASLPA given the lack of researcher 'sage on the stage' model. A HUGE thanks to CASLPA for allowing us to present and supporting us in our venture!!

    Also, is now a bad time to point out that slpchat is our online attempt at unconference discussions? ...