There are lots of reasons to be concerned about the digital revolution and its impact on our lives, the lives of our students and schools. And there’s no shortage of voices raising the alarm. Here’s a small flavorsome slice of a particularly entertaining rant that was in the New Statesman a few years back:
Take that digital manacle, the BlackBerry. My first objection to this bleeping distraction is its name. To me, the blackberry is the fruit of the bramble, best picked in September and made into a crumble. It is not a portable telephone and emailing device. It is a strange fact, by the way, that new technology loves to appropriate words from nature. Orange, Apple, Twitter, Amazon, Safari and O2: all companies or products that in fact separate us from messy nature
But tirades aside – and moving on from the very distracting thoughts of blackberry and apple crumble topped with custard – there are also all the ways that the digital revolution add new dimension to the face-to-face, bricks-and-mortar world of professional development.
I’m thinking of the phenomenon of EdCamps: Teacher-driven, teacher-led, teacher-inspired and teacher-focused Edcamps – the best pd available anywhere!
Like the legends have it – from small and humble beginnings to an international movement of tremendous potential: EdCamp began at one time in one place and now EdCamps are everywhere and nothing in pd is quite the same.
And on Monday August 25th I am thrilled that EdCamp Hudson Valley will be at Poughkeepsie Day School.
The basic idea is very simple. Professional development – i.e. professional learning and collaboration – led by the people who do it best, know what they need, have tons of wisdom to share and who want to link up with others to serve their students better. Aka teachers.
And what happens at EdCamp doesn’t stay at EdCamp – it moves into schools and classrooms, onto blogs and tweets, rippling out to change minds and lives.
It’s been a privilege to watch this EdCamp take shape. And I can do that in part because the online work has unfolded on Facebook messenger. This planning group has figured out what is best done face-to-face and what can be followed up and explored online. I’ve watched the ideas build, the suggestions and questions flow and seen the reports of missions accomplished. And I’ve followed on Twitter as they reached out to educators in their networks and sought and thanked local businesses for their sponsorship. And all those people who love to bash teachers and go on about weeding out bad apples and whatnot should lend an ear to the thoughtful processes behind it all. EdCamp folks are not sitting around waiting for the latest admin driven powerpoint presentation on school reform; they are thinking about their work and the needs of their students and creating community to do something about it.
EdCamp is founded on radical and simple notion that teachers are learners and if they are to support their students they must be experts at learning and create community to do just that..
EdCamp picks up the revolutionary idea of the unconference and the rules are user friendly and simple.
Edcamp is free, democratic, participant-driven, professional development for teachers. You can read more here.
I went to EdCamp Philly after the NAIS annual conference last year. It was a terrific experience to be in the middle of groups of public and independent educators who so clearly knew what they wanted to know, knew what they needed to know and were delighted to share with others and think ahead and find new ways to solve problems.
It functioned as a busy hive with a bunch of cells, no queen bee but plenty of constructive buzzing from cell to cell, learning and moving on, connecting, sharing, creating.
It was great to take part and be in the middle of it all.
I hope you can tell – I’m really looking forward to August 25th and EdCamp Hudson Valley. Come if you can. I am deeply appreciative of the energy and enthusiasm of the teachers who have created this day of learning, organized the t-shirts, found the sponsors, sourced the refreshments and found the time to put it all together! Wonderfully impressive. Thank-you EdCamp organizers.
So what has EdCamp Hudson Valley to do with technology and digital leadership?
Well everything and nothing of course. The tools of tech and social media help make it all happen and tech tools in the service of learning will undoubtedly feature in many of the sessions on the day. Teachers know all too well how we are all on a steep learning curve with technology when it comes to leveraging its power on behalf of learning.
But the true power of EdCamp resides in bringing committed professionals together to share what they do best: Learn, teach and lead. And when it comes to PD what could be better than that!.
So my #leadershipday14 post is a tribute to the leadership digital and otherwise of EdCampers in the Hudson Valley. And beyond.