Fort Wayne will join about 200 other cities around the country that will host an Edcamp event this year.
The Edcamp concept was developed based on principles from a similar event for lawyers called BarCamp in which participants drive the workshop topics. Each Edcamp is set up in an unconference setting, in which sessions are not decided until the morning of the event and the session topics and presenters come from the audience. The event is free and open to anyone interested in attending.
The Edcamp model is an innovative approach to professional development and growth in the education community, said Riley Johnson, a teacher at Wayne New Tech Academy and organizer of the local event.
Johnson and four other Wayne New Tech Academy teachers attended an Edcamp in Indianapolis last year and left thinking about how their community could benefit from an event that would capitalize on local talent and resources.
So, with some urging from the New Tech network, Johnson decided to organize the local event, which is scheduled for May 4 at Wayne New Tech. More than 100 educators from 12 area counties and three states have already signed up. One educator from Detroit who will be attending was recently recognized as one of the 25 most influential social media educators, Johnson said.
We are very excited about pushing the culture of education in our community and getting people to think outside the box when it comes to education in northeast Indiana, Johnson said.
Participants are encouraged to pre-register, but it’s not required, Johnson said.
The day will include four hour-long sessions, and participants are asked to bring their own lunches or use a map of local restaurants to buy lunch.
He said the biggest question he hears most often is what exactly the event is?
It will start with what’s called building the board, in which participants individually or in groups propose workshop ideas and collectively decide on what kind of sessions they would like to be a part of. Two to three people from the crowd will step up and lead the sessions.
The day ends with a smackdown when participants will share what they learned.
Johnson has already started receiving suggestions for sessions, like using music in the classroom and others that focus on technology. He said integrating technology in the classroom is likely to be a theme for the day but that shouldn’t scare off educators who aren’t technologically savvy.
Kindergarten teachers and building administrators have registered to be a part of the event, Johnson said, and some have a wealth of experience using technology in the classroom while others might need help with the basics.
Johnson believes the event can further advance Fort Wayne’s image and push the education community in the area to grow together.
For me as a teacher, an event like this provides an innovative platform for me to grow in my practice and in the educational community around me, he said.