If you are not familiar, let me take you through the day. First, I met up with some of my friends from the Twitterverse to drive to Philly. It was nice meeting folks with whom I've interacted online. Of course, that was only the beginning of the meetings. After arriving at the University of Pennsylvania, we registered, got our wi-fi codes and some swag and then we were off to the session board to see what was offered for the day. The board filled up fairly quickly. Different participants came up and posted sessions that they were volunteering to present. Could it be? A professional development day that does not have an expert? Ah, there's the rub, the participants ARE the experts! As the sessions got posted, they were quickly uploaded to a Google Doc so that we didn't have to stand in front of the board to see them. They were accessible electronically all day.
After some very brief opening remarks welcoming everyone, thanking sponsors and organizers, and explaining the rules of edcamp, we were off to our first chosen sessions. I decided to go to a session on using Edmodo in the classroom. It was conducted by a third grade teacher from Virginia and was very interactive. While most moderators would be thrown by audience members interjecting, questioning, and adding, at an Edcamp, it is expected. The leader keeps the conversation going and provides a framework within which the group can learn. I learned a great deal from the presenter as well as from the knowledge base that sat in the room.
My subsequent sessions were similar. One was on Skype in the classroom. Another was about the flipped classroom. It was a day that I felt mattered and I truly enjoyed. Why? Because I felt like a true participant rather than a passive consumer of information and concepts being dispensed by a guru (that does have it's place, but not here.) Another fantastic part of the day was lunch. A group of NJ educators who are connected on Twitter all got together for lunch at a local restaurant. This involved more professional conversation, as well as a great deal of fun! An added bonus was a visit from @Joe_Mazza of eFACE fame.
The day ended with a Smackdown. As we sat in the room awaiting this Edcamp tradition, I asked my friends if this was going to hurt. They just laughed and said, "wait and see." It turns out a Smackdown is an opportunity for anyone who wishes to get up and go to the computer up front and demonstrate a useful technology tool, app, game, etc. The catch is that you only have one minute. This was a great way to leave with many new resources to investigate. It is amazing what people are using out there!