thinking through professional development #edcamp #edcampnyc #tedxnyed


I’ve got about a million things racing through my brain as I try and finish a paper that is due on Saturday. At least I think it’s due on Saturday, as none of the course documents make it too clear. (Have you read how I really don’t like the way this online course is presented?)

And if you haven’t already, please do me a favor and fill out this survey on professional development, as it would really help me out.

Anyway, as I’m trying to make the argument that a more informal, PLN-based (either online or in-person) model of professional development is perhaps as effective as it gets, I’m also part of the team that’s planning EdCampNYC, starting to kick off planning for next year’s TEDxNYED, and also trying to put together the technology professional development orientation sessions for my school during our all-too-soon orientation. (For what it’s worth, I’m going to try to plan at least one of our half-days in the unconference style.) I’m also looking at attending, in the coming weeks, PadCamp, 140edu (did you know that educators can attend for $1.40 — seriously, just register here now), and TSETC. Busy times…

What I’m worried about, at least regarding the two external conferences I’m involved in planning, is how we reach out to a potential new audience. I love the PD sessions that I attend, particularly the more unstructured ones, but they’re starting to feel like the same people are presenting and attending every one. Even ISTE felt that way, and that was HUGE. So how do you a reach a new audience?

Maybe it’s Twitter, with the hopes for retweeting seen by people you haven’t connected with. Or blog posts, Facebook postings, a Google+ post or hangout or huddle or whatever comes next in that space. But isn’t that just dipping into the same well of potential participants? By continuing to use the same online tools that you’ve been using to connect with this person, that person, or the other person you met at x, y, or z conference, aren’t you, in a way, preaching to the converted? I argued to the EdCampNYC organizers’ mailing list that maybe we shouldn’t use those same tools — but I didn’t really have the greatest of ideas about where to turn in their place.

I’m not being crankly becuase I’m sick of seeing the same people all the time — in fact, I love it. They’re the people that inspire me all the time, in whatever forum I interact with them in. Sometimes, even face to face! But there has to be a way to engage with those not already engaging.

How do you bring new faces, ideas, perspectives to your table?

photo credit: me

5 thoughts on “thinking through professional development #edcamp #edcampnyc #tedxnyed

  1. arvind s grover

    Basil, I feel like you are absolutely killing it with the blog posts these days! You’re inspiring me to do some harder thinking and writing. Let’s see if I can convert the excitement I get from reading your posts into actual writing of my own.I am a firm believer in the space matters. The methodology in which we interact, the setting, the context…all matters. The annoying part is how fast the software keeps changing. For me the end game of any social space, online classroom, etc, is that the participants are actively engaged with each other. Perhaps I’m most interested in active learning ( within these spaces.That being said, in order to plug new people into the space, especially those new to it, I have rarely found that an e-mail works. I sit with people, I talk them through the how’s, the why’s. It takes that level of grass roots efforts for things like this to work. If we all do a little of that (which we do), we expand our network in powerful ways. Spamming our teachers has nearly 0 traction.This is me thinking out loud, but as a new administrator in a new school working on a new high school, I know that one of my roles is to bring people into the fold, outside of the school – extending the network takes real work, and I think that many of us are up for the challenge.

  2. Basil Kolani

    Thanks, arvind. This has really turned into a summer of reflection for me, problem the result of both the combination of taking on a lot this last year and becoming a student again. I’m taking the online program at TC, and I did it because I can’t really spare the time away from my family and I’m also always looking to improve the online experience I provide for my own students.After a whirlwind year of professional development, I’m also trying to find the best way to engage with different people to best inform the ideas I bring back to my faculty. I’m finding that a lot of the PD events that I’ve gone to are starting to feature the same people again and again, and it really is becoming an echo chamber of sorts. It can be frustrating when you’re on a quest to find new ideas.

  3. Chris Fancher

    I think we need to encourage coworkers, who have a lot to say or are experts in your school with a certain technology or application, to speak at these un-conferences. For Edcampmanor this fall I’m making sure that I do as much as possible with people outside of my school so that all of our teachers can attend and/or present.

  4. Kristen Swanson

    Basil, you raise interesting questions. When we ran EdCampPhilly for the second year, the majority of our participants were not “repeat EdCampers.” However, that raises an even more interesting question: What happened to everyone from the year before? Were they turned off by the unconference style? Were they just busy in the middle of May? In any case, I too am concerned about the ability to grow this movement to the point where it really starts making an impact. I also question if the growth of it will somehow water down it’s effectiveness. Thanks for making me think and thanks for continuing the conversation.

  5. nykat4

    Basil, I’ve been thinking the same about some of the conferences I’ve attended in the last year or so. The question of how to reach people who are not already in the edcamp/twitter/googleplus/linkedin etc community is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Unfortunately, I haven’t come up with any brilliant solution. I definitely think we need to talk it up at our schools, particularly with new faculty, as well as try to get anyone we know to talk it up at their schools too. I know it’s old school, but I think if we printed off some flyers and took them to the uni’s and schools in the areas we live and work we might get some of the people who aren’t in the online world so much yet. Still working on ideas though.

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