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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why EdCamp Is Important To Me

EdCamp Omaha has been on my mind a lot lately. It's little things. Like making sure we have some coin for some sort of breakfast/snack. I wanted to do it in our district because I have the cell phone numbers of people when I'd need them (like IT). But we aren't. And that's perfectly fine. I trust the people we are working with. The hands on (read: control freak) in me struggles with it some days.
So last weekend I got together with Jason Schmidt, Michelle Baldwin, Kristina Peters, and Barb Gilman at Goodnights to chat about EdCamp Omaha and life in general. Jason had never met any of us in person. Kristina and I, while we hung out a bit at EdCamp KC, really didn't know each other. So we just sat and chatted about a variety of things and got to know everyone better.
You wouldn't have known it was our first time hanging out. I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. And all because of the interactions on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. I think it's really hard to compare online vs face to face relationships. I think in this age there is a place for both. There are things that Paul, Andy, and Ryan - guys I've known since high school and college - know about me and experiences we've shared that won't ever happen with people online. They are a business owner, banker, and optometrist. Highly intelligent, but not embedded in education like Jason, Michelle, Kristina, and Barb.  Because of the latter's shared interest in education and Twitter, we've been able to develop a friendship online that easily transitioned to face to face.
Which brings me to EdCamp. EdCamp is not a technology conference. It is not a Twitter conference. EdCamp is face to face social learning. Think interactive professional development. You are not talked at, you're talked with. Don't be surprised if you see at EdCamp Omaha, like you've seen at other EdCamps and conferences, people who have started relationships online will carry them in to the face to face environment. EdCamps are designed for sharing from all attendees and the relationships developed prior to the event make that come quickly and naturally. Does that mean you need to be on Twitter prior to EdCamp? Absolutely not. We don't know everything. We need good ideas. We need YOUR experiences. We need them because we want to do what's best for kids.
As we wrapped up our gathering last week, the stress of how many granola bars we are going to be able to provide lifted off my shoulders. I was stoked to get back together with them and have similar experiences with the rest of the EdCamp Omaha attendees. A wise man emailed me a couple weeks ago and said "if 80 people show up, we'll have a great event with 80 educators" (for the record, we're dang close to 100). He's right. We want everyone to be there, but family takes priority and life gets in the way. And I'd never argue against that. Whoever is there, in person or online, will contribute to what is going to be a great event. And you can bet, when we get home, we'll share what we learned from you. We can't wait to meet you in person.

9 comments:

Lori Feldman said...

Can't wait for EdCamp Omaha! See you all there!

J Allen said...

Thanks, Lori!

Wm Chamberlain said...

Wish I could come. You are absolutely right about those face to face connections. There is no way that social media will ever replace the deeper relationships that can be created only by spending real time together.

Have a great camp and don't sweat the small stuff, enjoy the small stuff.

J Allen said...

Sorry you won't be able to join us Bill!

Chris Vacek said...

Josh,

I totally agree with you - it's about face to face interaction, social learning, and - for me - about inventing the future together. At my first EdCamp event, in KC, where I met you, I truly did not know what to expect. In some very real, and lasting, ways, that event changed my life and my outlook. It is one thing to gather your PLN, and know that the resources are out there to rely on; the EdCamp experience takes PLNs to the next level and creates more than resource-based relationships - it creates friendships and partnerships. I can't wait for Omaha.

Craig said...

Josh,

Thanks for all of your hard work. I look forward to attending!

J Allen said...

Thanks to Chris and Craig for your comments. The more I think about all the people I get to connect with the more excited I get!

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