Unconferences” and “edcamps” are gaining momentum as new professional development vehicles; we now increasingly recognize that as educators we learn well, sometimes we learn better, from our peers and colleagues than we do from the “experts,” and we learn better collaboratively, better than we do on our own.

If these are true, then wouldn’t we benefit from professional development that is in our own hometowns, with other educators, in an open-source, free or low cost, manner?   Unconferences seek to make this happen.

I attended my first “unconference” in July, in Boston: EduBloggerCon East, hosted by the November Learning group, and facilitated by the excellent 21st century learning bloggers and trainers Liz Davis and Lisa Thumann.  Lisa has a helpful blog post explaining unconferences; to quote,

What is an unconference?

  • A participant driven gathering of people talking about a common theme
  • Everyone at an unconference has a voice. Here you would get to hear from educators you might not typically learn or share with at other more formal events.
  • There are no requests for proposals (RFP’s) for an unconference. You just put your name and session idea on a wiki or chart paper. These are just conversations and there is no need to have a formal presentation as you and your group should be having a conversations. Perhaps you’d like to start one.
  • Unconferences are typically FREE

The Boston Edubloggercon conference was really exciting for me: I appreciated getting the chance to connect in person with, learn from, network and socialize with people who shared my passion for 21st century learning and advancing our schools in this direction.

I also learned in Boston about the Edcamp project, a shared, open source, wiki platform for organizing educational unconferences around the country; Dan Callahan is one of its organizers, and I was fortunate to sit next to him in Boston and be inspired and informed by him.

So here we go: I have created a wikipage for edcamp Tucson at the edcamp Wiki.  Mid-January and early February seem best to me; I have tentatively slotted it for Saturday January 22, but for another month or two I am reserving the right to change it to Saturday February 5 if we encounter some major obstacle in the calendar.

The organizing topic will be advancing 21st century learning in k-12 schools, including sub-topics such as teaching 21st century skills, integrating digital technology, and facilitating project based and problem based learning. All educators in Tucson and beyond interested in discussing, presenting upon, or learning more about these topics are very much welcome to participate.

To join in, go to the wiki page, click on the edit tab, and then enter your information in the grid table.  You can offer topics on which you think you can present or facilitate conversations; this is your conference.   It would be great too if we had two or three other folks here in Tucson (TUSD? CFD16? Amphi?other?) who might volunteer to co-coordinate this with me; we could meet a few times prior to the event.