On #edcampbos

Edcamp Boston was a phenomenal event.

I’ve now run two Edcamps, and have attended several more. Almost a year since we got things started in Philly, there’s still a certain magic to walking into a building where you anticipate a day of shared learning and have no idea yet what that learning will be. Seeing the blank schedule board transform in an hour to 40 awesome sessions? Fabulous. It continues to bring me joy to see well over a hundred teachers give up a Saturday so they can learn from each other. There’s power in the network, and Edcamp takes a small part in bringing that alive for the educators who have now attended 17 events across North America.

Speaking of the power of the network, I am so grateful that Edcamp Boston ended up with the team that it did. Liz, Karen, Laura, Greg, Larry, and Steve were all so amazing to work with. My first piece of advice to anybody considering running an Edcamp is to find a good team. What I don’t normally tell them is that by the time you’ve finished your event, you will undoubtedly consider your team good friends. This has now personally held true for both Philly and Boston.

A few lessons learned from this, my second Edcamp as an organizer:

  • There’s no need to jump the gun on registration. The longer you can hold off, the better your attendance will be in comparison to your registration, I think. We got antsy at two months before the event, and we really could have waited at least another couple of weeks and been fine.
  • If you ask people for a small donation to help with costs when they get their ticket, a lot of them will. The 60 people who supported us in addition to our sponsors really helped make the event possible in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without their generosity.
  • Wikis are dead, long live Posterous! We got way more sharing out of attendees by using Posterous than I’ve previously seen at an Edcamp. “E-mail it” is way simpler to explain and for people to handle than any other platform yet.
  • Eat lunch on site if at all possible. Having people go elsewhere compels them to split into groups of people they’re familiar with. This leaves newbies out of the mix, which hurts the point of the day. It also means you get to save time for sessions.
  • Longer days are ok. We were a bit worried by going practically nonstop from 8AM to 4:30PM, but we shouldn’t have been. The day flew by. We fit in five sessions and a Smackdown, which made for a jam-packed day of awesomeness.
  • Give people a reason to stick around. Doing the Smackdown at the end of the day was a great way to have a shared ending to the day, and we were really pleased to see how many people stuck it out until the very end.
  • If there’s more than one Edcamp on the same day, be sure to collaborate! At the end of the day we checked in with Edcamp Detroit, and it was great to extend that feeling of shared learning hundreds of miles west. Kudos also to Mike Kaechele and Marialice Curran for running a joint session on online collaboration between the two Edcamps.

My advice for those attending an Edcamp: try to attend at leat one session outside of your normal routine/comfort range. My favorite session that I attended was run by Jennifer Leung on Theater Games in the Classroom. It was a small group session, just five of us, but I learned a lot about something completely new to me.

Good thing it’s less than two weeks until Edcamp Philly. I’m already going through withdrawal. If you’re in the area, go! If not, check out the Edcamp wiki to see if there’s one coming up near you. Philly will be your final chance to see me run a Things That Suck session in a Very Special Series Finale. I’m officially retiring from TTS after Philly, but I do encourage other people to run their own variations at Edcamps and other events, as I’ve seen Joyce Valenza and Jeff Richardson do so to my immense pleasure.

Bonus advice to organizers: do something to get your mind off of the event the night before. I went to see Thor on Friday night and it was pretty awesome.

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