By Jennifer Williams
Vision. It allows us to outline a path for which to follow. It not only reflects the culture of an organization through statements of goals and aspirations, but it provides the “how” and the “why” to place purpose and framework. In recent months as I have worked to prepare for EdCamp Tampa Bay, the local EdCamp in my area that I together with Fran Siracusa have worked to develop, I have often looked to the vision and the mission of the EdCamp Foundation as a guiding force. Though simply stated, I believe the words so clearly substantiate the original and thoughtful intentions of the founding members.
Vision of EdCamp
We are all self-directed learners, developing and sharing our expertise with the world.
Mission of EdCamp
We build and support a community of empowered learners.
This past week, I was honored to be a part of the nationwide EdCamp event, EdCamp Leadership, that brought educational leaders together in multiple areas across the United States to discuss topics of critical significance that are affecting classrooms and educators today. EdCamp Leadership Melbourne, the Florida event organized by Susan Bearden (@s_bearden) and Cathy Koos (@ckoos1) and held at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, was an extraordinary day of learning and sharing. And true to the foresight of the EdCamp pioneers, the day was indeed one of great vision.
“We are all self-directed learners.”
For me, one of the best parts of EdCamp is the creation of the “board.” As an organically developed schedule of sessions, the board embodies the EdCamp vision in that we all, for one day, become somewhat of conference coordinators. I am fascinated by EdCamp session boards and always watch with anticipation as they develop. Educators directing their own learning—essentially modeling what I hope is happening in classrooms---students part of the process of inquiry and at the center in their search for knowledge. At EdCamp Leadership, something quite simple, yet profound happened that I believe is the essence of EdCamp. That morning, as I left the introduction hour, I quickly took a picture of the session board and headed off to the first sessions. During one morning session, I noticed a teacher next to me, a teacher I had never met in person, creating a sketchnote of the conversation. I was immediately thrilled as learning to sketchnote has been on my “personal learning bucket list” for the year. As I followed along with the session and the hashtag #edcampldrFL on Twitter, I noticed that my neighboring teacher had posted a picture of her sketchnote as the session continued. I introduced myself and learned that her name was Lali DeRosier (@LabCoatTeacher) and, by her Twitter history of images, I could see that she was an avid and talented sketchnoter. I quickly retweeted and then replied asking her if she had a sketchnote session on the board for the day. What happened next was pure EdCamp "magic” in my mind. We met after the session, and she said that though she had thought to put it up, she had decided not to. Soonafter, she visited the board, found an opening, and added her session…Sketchnoting 101! At Lali’s standing-room-only session, I created my first-of-many sketchnotes. The creation of this session happened in the moment and based on interest and engagement. “We are all self-directed learners.” Vision!
“We are all developing and sharing our expertise with the world.”
I love Periscope, and as an early adopter, I knew instantly that the possibilities were distinctive and endless for use in education. For the second session of the day, I was thrilled to watch the power of Periscope play out for the world to see. As facilitator Tanya Spillane (@TanyaSpillane) started to demonstrate Periscope and to walk everyone through the basics, Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1) jumped right in to make his first “Scope.” Very quickly, Jerry had 10, 20, 50, 70 people from around the world tuning in on Periscope for the #edcampldrFL Periscope session! They were asking questions and engaging as participants. Next (and as Jerry continued his “scope” video), Tammy Neil (@TG_Neil) shared ways to connect with Voxer. Within minutes, a mutual EduPal that was watching on the Scope, Voxed Tammy and, they together yet divided by distance demonstrated the interactive nature of the Voxer tool. It was one connected conversation between session participants that were there in person, on Periscope, and on Voxer. “We are all developing and sharing our expertise with the world.” Vision!
“We build and support a community of empowered learners.”
As the overarching purpose of EdCamp, I believe this mission statement speaks of the vision the strongest. EdCamps offer inclusive learning and sharing moments that are transformational. So similar to the instant and deep bonds that we found as kids in our childhood summer camps, the relationships formed at EdCamps somehow create connections that continue and flourish. You become one united front. Empowered to have a voice and inspired to make a difference. Through sessions such as Twitter 101 with Jerrry Blumengarten, Tammy Neil, and Jerry Swiatek (@jswiatek) that encourage teachers to build and develop Professional Learning Networks, to conversations that seem to resonate and stay with you for days, such as Rebranding Digital Citizenship with Tanya Avrith (@TanyaAvrith), EdCamps truly “build and support community of empowered learners.” EdCamp Leader, I believe, allowed each of us time, space, and moments to consider the “hows” and the “whys” of our individual worlds, and left us each to ask “What is our own vision for the future of education?” As we each work to develop the hows and the whys, I am thankful for opportunities to connect with visionary leaders of our world of education.