By Bruce Reicher
Have you ever been to an Edcamp? An Edcamp is an unconference where all the educators who attend the conference have the potential to become presenters. The schedule is built on a board and you can pick and choose the sessions you want to attend. The vibe at an Edcamp is totally different than your normal conference. There is no keynote speaker that everyone attending needs to listen to. The educators who attend the Edcamp are attending to share, learn, and network with each other. All educators at an Edcamp want to be there!
Since the pandemic in March, there have been no in-person Edcamps, but I believe all remote PD is like a 24-hour global Edcamp. All educators like to share with each other and everyone is home with remote learning. This is the perfect storm for amazing authentic PD. Over the past six months here is the PD I’ve been able to go to and the connections I’ve made with other educators.
One of my favorite places to learn has been the Global GEG and the state GEG’s. A GEG is a Google Education Group and its mission is to teach, share, and learn from each other. During the pandemic, I was able to join the Global GEG weekly groups that addressed educators' SEL and wellness. It was amazing to me that I was able to join a group that included members from all over the United States, England, Canada, and many more countries. I was able to connect on a personal level with the 20 or fewer educators who were in the Google Meet. I would encourage every educator to join their state GEG and check out the Global GEG events. They have amazing online training that is FREE.
This past summer there were more free conferences you could attend than time in a day. I tried to keep my digital balance but did attend many local, state, and international conferences. I learned to always check the time zones as all these conferences were in different locations. My favorites this summer were the WeVideo conference, the #2020ChangeMakerConference, and the Microsoft CUE conference.
Remote PD also allowed me to join #CoffeeEdujs which is located two hours from my house. A CoffeeEdu before the pandemic took place at a local coffee place where educators would meet for an hour and exchange ideas. Once this terrific chat went online with Zoom, I was now able to attend the weekly Sunday conversation and connect with educators from around my state of New Jersey. This group has covered important topics of remote learning, school reopening, racism, and student equity. I have learned so much from these educators and I have remote PD to thank.
My two 24/7 learning centers are called Facebook and Twitter. I am able to go on and learn and connect with educators at any time of the day or night. This has been the most effective PD I’ve done in my 25 years as an educator. I’ve been able to connect with educators all around the world and now have an amazing PLN.
Finally, my goal for this summer was to go to as many conferences as possible and promote our book, Scripted. Due to the pandemic, I was not able to go to any conference in person, but I was able to send a DM (Direct Message) to 15 podcasts and book myself and my co-authors Paula Neidlinger and Randall Tomes on 13 different shows. I am so thankful we were able to tell our story and share the premise of our book that everyone can create media. Since I live in New Jersey and Paula and Randy live in Indiana, there is no way we would be able to attend 13 different conferences together. With remote learning, we were able to connect with so many amazing educators who have helped us tell our story. Every educator is going through this pandemic differently, but I would suggest every educator reach out on social media and attend as many online conferences as you can.
Twitter - @breicher