What I Learned at Ed Camp LA Part I

Yesterday, I attended Ed Camp in New Orleans. It is an unconference that educators have created around the United States to teach each other best practices for using technology tools in the classroom K-12. This was the second annual event in New Orleans. I could not attend last year and was excited to go this year.

Okay, I am going to first vent here because I think this could be improved for next year. The beginning of the event in the morning was sooooo slow. I was getting restless and thought the day was going to be a waste because I arrived at 8:15, and the first session did not begin until 10AM. That is just too much time for sitting without a focus. If you ask me to come out on a Saturday in July, I want to be brought on board from the minute I walk in the door. I think that the two take-aways that we wrote to guide the sessions for the day should have been collected the minute that we walked in the door. The planning for the day could have been done much faster. I am just not good at sitting. The other problem I found was that many attendees were so unfamiliar with all the 21st century tools that many of us are already using. I have been blogging and tweeting since 2009. I skype. I create videos for a flipped classroom. I have a website for my library. I am ready to move to the next level, whatever that may be, and there are so many who are still far behind.

Enough complaining, now I want to share what I did learn. That way I can use this blog post as my notes for the day. I took notes in Evernote on a borrowed iPad. Then I just logged into the web version of Evernote to pull everything up on my computer. I just love that. Easy.

The first session I attended was on Twitter with facilitator Paula Naugle. She is a fourth grade teacher in my district, and I knew of her and the amazing connections that she has made on Twitter. She moderates #4thchat once a week. She gave the basics on twitter which were certainly familiar to me. However, she reminded me of something that I want to remember when teaching newbies to use Twitter. You do not have to join Twitter to lurk, read posts and learn from all the amazing teachers using Twitter for their Professional Learning Network (PLN). You can just type in the URL: www.twitter.com/search and a search box will come up. You can search by person, but using hashtags will probably get you more of where you want to go. I have been using Cybrary Man's list of hashtags for awhile. However, Brian Mull from November Learning took the list and shortened it for the most important education hashtags to follow. Also, if you are interested in following discussions about the Common Core State Standards, and everybody is talking Common Core these days. Here are three hashtags to follow on Twitter: #CommonCore, #CCSS and #CCchat.

For the next session, only a couple of people stayed in the room. Brian Mull was going to share social bookmarking. I am a very active user of Delicious, but he wanted to show me some features of Diigo that might be useful in the classroom. You can install a Diigolet on your iPhone or iPad so that you can save links on the go. You can also save links in Diigo and Delicious at the same time, and I can import my links that I already have into Diigo. I have to make sure that my tags would also import because without the tags, it would be hard to search the links that I have saved. If you want students in a group or a class to share links, the teacher or the student can create a unique tag that each person uses when they save a link. Like: PFTSTASSFair. That way they can search the tag name to pull up everyone's links. Teachers can also create groups, so students could contribute links to a group Diigo account. If you go to: Diigo.com/education, then teachers can get an education account and add students to Diigo. There are many public Diigo groups that you can join. So if there is a topic that you want to follow or you need to study a topic for an assignment, then you might find a group that is collecting links that might be useful for you.

I am going to end here when I headed out to lunch to get a yummy New Orleans po boy sandwich from Parasol's. I will talk about the afternoon sessions in Part II that will be posted tomorrow.


  1. Elizabeth, thank you for providing us with some constructive criticism for next year's EdcampLA. It is through feedback like yours that will allow myself and the other organizers to vastly improve the next EdcampLA experience.

    One of the reasons I facilitated "Things That Make Me Go Ummm" in the large gathering area we dubbed the Learning Lounge, was to get the attendees comfortable sharing and commenting with each other. I learned from last year that we needed a way to set the tone of EdcampLA, since so few attendees really know what to expect from the experience. We want to stay true to the intended goals by reminding attendees, that Edcamps are about facilitated discussions, not about presentations.

    I also agree that there is a large division between those who are very comfortable integrating technology into their classrooms and those that are fairly new to it. We need to devise a way to create strands which would allow attendees to have their needs met based on their level of tech comfort.

    Thank you for being a part of the experience and I hope that you will be in attendance next year as we kick it up a notch. Please consider facilitating a discussion for tech savvy attendees. I work forward to collaborating with you in the future.

  2. Paula: I had no problem with your use of the discussion to get everyone on board. I thought your "things" were great ideas to spark discussion. If people are passionate about the topics then they should have lots to say. It just moved slow to me. I always think about what we do with adults would that technique work in a classroom. I think that you would lose kids if you did not keep the discussion hopping. Too much down time and the groups will end up talking about something else, not what you are trying to facilitate.

    I also would have loved to have everyone introduce themselves. Find out what subject area and grade level they taught as well as where they were from. At the time they could say where they fit on the technology use spectrum.


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