CS EdCamp Anyone?

Some of the more interesting professional development events I have been to is recent years have been called EdCamps. Many of these are organized via the EdCamp wiki. EdCamps are a form of unconference. An unconference is a participant driven conference. Rather than the traditional format of a committee selecting speakers and topics in advance and attendees picking which to attend, the unconference is organized on the spot. Attendees arrive at the start and write down things they would like to present of facilitate. Other attendees vote, by indicating which events they would like to attend, and the various top selections are arranged into a schedule for the day. It works surprisingly well.

The other aspect of EdCamps is that they tend to be more interactive than traditional “pundit on the podium” presentations. Often presentations morph into broad or very narrow discussions depending on the participants.

The EdCamps I have attended have tended to focus very much on using technology in the classroom. Discussion of Maker Spaces, using social media in the classroom, and many more topics of interest are covered. What I see very little of is computer science related, or at least focused, presentations at these conferences. While I value the things I have learned at these EdCamps I keep thinking that a computer science focused EdCamp could be a valuable event for many of us.

These events are locally organized, very informal and require far less than the usual amount of resources a conference requires. Other they are held in schools, universities or even public spaces made available by companies. The Boston EdCamp has been held in space donated by Microsoft for example. All you really need is a couple of rooms for sessions and a central space to do the initial registration (always good to know who is there) and presentation selection. They can be large or small and run all day or part of a day. Personally I think they would make a great CSTA chapter event that would promote both professional development and community building. I’d welcome some feedback on the idea. Would you attend one? Have you attended one? What do you like or not like about this idea?

Alfred Thompson
At-large Member – CSTA Board