This Saturday, I went to one of the best conferences I have ever attended. I had run across mention of Edcamp Philly on my twitter feed, and was intrigued enough to visit the website to learn more. The more I read, the more interesting the event sounded.
Edcamp is billed as an ‘unconference’. Instead of having a set schedule and industry reps trying to hawk their software/hardware, Edcamp is run by teachers, for teachers. The first part of the day is actually putting the schedule together! Any attendee can sign up to lead an hour long session on the topic(s) of their choosing. The schedule filled up FAST with a ton of great presentations. The hardest part was choosing which ones to attend. Thankfully, Edcamp also subscribes to the ‘Two Feet’ rule: You are free to wander in and out of sessions at will without offending the presenters. This way, if you find a session is not quite what you are looking for, you can move on to another one. If you want to see more than one session during a particular time slot, you can split your time between them. No one felt obligated to sit through a session that they were not interested in.
The sessions themselves were wonderful! Since they were run by teachers, the content was always relevant, and the topics covered all aspects of education. While a lot of the sessions did include technology, they were not purely techie based, making them ideal for all types of teachers.
The staff running the event were super friendly and helpful, and the attendees were absolutely amazing. Our time in between sessions was spent talking, networking, and sharing with each other. Even during the sessions, there was a lively backchannel going on Twitter with the #edcampphilly hashtag as people discussed their sessions and shared ideas. In one day, I met a ton of wonderful, enthusiastic educators, and added almost 30 new people to my Twitter feed!
At the end of the day, we wrapped up with the Web 2.0 Smackdown, where attendees had 1 minute blocks in which to present a cool web 2.0 tool to the group. We also had a raffle with some amazing door prizes, and when the conference events finished up, there was an after party at City Tap House with free munchies and conversation!
By now, you might be asking how much this fantastic event cost. Guess what! It was all FREE! Trust me, you cannot find a better conference than this one!