Saturday, October 26, 2013

EdCamp Online: A Personal Learning Opportunity

My third graders and I often talk about the joy of personal learning. We defined personal learning  as an opportunity to learn because you are personally interested in a subject. My third graders told me that they sometimes learn independently by watching a video or reading directions. Many third graders said that they learn on their own through trial and error. 

Today I participated in some personal learning of my own! I joined a group of connected educators for something called EdCamp Online.

At the beginning of the online session, the 100+ participants met in a lobby. Here is the definition of a real lobby:

We did not meet in the lobby of a public building. This is a screenshot of the online, or virtual lobby. On the right, are the attendees. (An attendee is a fancy word that means a person who attends a gathering.) The attendees waited in the lobby for the online rooms to open up. On the left is a live Google HangOut. Mr. Theriault, an organizer, is giving the attendees some directions. 

While listening to the directions, I took a quick screenshot of the attendees. Since the class has been tweeting out photos of arrays, I thought that would be a good photo to get!

I could only get part of the array of 100. How would you describe this array? Will all the rows have three people?

The next step in the EdCamp Online session was to decide what everyone would talk about. Attendees submitted ideas and once enough people +1 (or showed interest) in an idea, the organizers opened up a Google Hangout room. 

Here is an idea that I suggested to the group. I was interested in talking about Educational Blogging. What information can you gather from this screenshot? At what time was the Google HangOut room created and opened? 

Next, attendees were given a chance to join a session of their choosing. I clicked the "join" button for the Educational Blogging session. Each white box is a space in the online session. How many people could join a session? 

Here is a screenshot of the Educational Blogging session. There are ten educators in the room. You can see Mrs. Davis, from Texas, is speaking.  Mrs. Reed, Mr. Theriault, and I are at the right. At the bottom are the other people in the session. 

Screenshot by Mrs. Reed 

Harvey, my African gray parrot, enjoyed the EdCampOnline so much that he whistled and talked throughout the one hour session!

I enjoyed learning with the passionate educators who gave up a Saturday morning to learn together. 

In our session, we talked about helping teachers see the potential in blogging. Rethink old paper-pencil projects and create ways to make the projects more collaborative and interactive. Our hope is that teachers encourage students to find their voice, connect and collaborate with others, and become contributing members of an online community. 

Together, the educators brainstormed some ideas about starting to blog with large numbers of students. Mr. Theriault recommended starting slowly. He allows his high school bloggers to do group blogs at the beginning. 

Letting students earn their own blogs is another possibility. In our class, students who regularly participate on the class blog or 365 blog and demonstrate good work habits can earn their own blog. Parents become the administrators of the blog so they can continue the blog after the student moves to the next grade. 

I shared the success I've had with Virtual Volunteers. Virtual Volunteers are parents who will help support the blog by commenting back to others. 

 The benefits of blogging are tremendous!

What do you think of this new kind of online learning?

What kind of session would you have suggested?

How could we use the EdCamp model in our classroom for Fun Friday? 


  1. Hi Linda. Usually we're all tied into specific topics ahead of time and we have more time to think about it from prior learning. However, this format seems like a lot of fun. It seems like it provides for a more "organic" or "rhizomatic" experience, i.e. messy learning ;) The experience can go many different directions as participants enter with varying degrees of knowledge, experience, and interest. I experienced that being part of #etmooc last winter/spring. As far as topics I would've enjoyed, perhaps a discussion on helping students make the transition to 1:1 Chromebooks and blended learning. But there are so many others! As far as how to use it in the classroom, I'll have to give that some more thought. Good question!

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on today's Edcamp Online event. You did a spectacular job laying out the whole process. I enjoyed it very much because I learned some helpful blogging tips. I'm new to blogging and just trying to figure it all out, one day at a time. Cheers!

    1. Shayna, Sheila and NizmaOctober 30, 2013 at 10:04 AM

      Dear Mrs. Reed,

      Thank you for the wonderful screen shot. You're a great participator for a new blogger!

      We bet that we will also enjoy learning new blogging tips when we have our Edcamp tomorrow. When we were thinking about our Edcamp, a lot of our classmates threw out a bunch of ideas for learning groups like cursive writing, teaching each other a new fad called Rainbow Loom, improving grammar and vocabulary, exploring World Book Online, typing HTML
      and more.

      What have you learned at your Edcamp? Was your group helpful? Mrs. Yollis said that if the session isn't working for you, you can move to another session. Have you ever left a session?

      Your blogging buddies,

      Sh♥yna, Sheil♥ and Nizm♥

    2. Hi Shayna, Sheila and Nizma,

      You are most welcome! I really enjoyed Edcamp Online because of the tips I learned. For example using the buddy system to support blogging so both students can learn from each other. My group was outstanding because Mrs. Yollis lead the discussion and contributed so much from her classroom experience. There were other leaders in the group too that shared their wisdom about blogging with students.

      Honestly, I was too afraid to leave the group once I was in. This group was online and only had a limited number of spaces open. I think if I was in a group where I could stand up and walk around I would be able to see if there was space for me. I think that would give me confidence to move around.

      Happy Halloween!

      Mrs. Reed

  3. Dear Mrs. Reed,

    Thank you for leaving us such a great comment! Also, we thank you for the great screenshot of the Edcamp hangout.

    We're planning to have an Edcamp in our room this Friday. Some sessions might be: drawing, learning HTML, learning cursive, and exploring World Book Online. Some kids might be running a session about Rainbow Loom.

    Which of our sessions would you attend?


    1. You're welcome! Wow, an EdCamp in your room! I wish I could go. I love Edcamps because I learn so much when I put my mind to it. If I could only attend one session, which is a very difficult choice to make, I would select drawing. In my job I need to be creative to inspire and capture people's attention. I think drawing would help me a lot. Thanks for asking. I hope you have a wonderful Edcamp and I hope to read a little about it in your blog or on Twitter. I do like using Twitter. Cheers!

    2. Dear Mrs. Reed

      I noticed that all the ends of your comments end with Cheers. But I don't blame you because that is a splendid ending for a comment! I'm pretty sure we'll have some pictures. We'll probably do a blog post about it to.

      Ali and Clare

    3. Dear Mrs. Reed,

      I think Edcamp is a great idea too!

      Some of the other activities for our class Edcamp are: Learning apps on the Ipad, story writing, math, Chicken Vault, Atlases, building vocabulary, and Skitch. Out of those, which one would you attend?


    4. Hi Ali and Clare,
      Years ago, I traveled alot to Australia and Europe selling communication satellites. Many of the wonderful people I met always ended their emails with "cheers." It makes me smile. Doesn't it make you smile, too?

      I look forward to your blog post about the upcoming Edcamp. I hope I get some ideas to share with third graders from Manhattan Beach. Very exciting!
      Mrs. Reed

    5. Dear Jemma,

      I love learning about new creative apps on the iPad. I have over 1000 apps that I have downloaded over time to test. Many of the apps are brilliant and I enjoy using them to teach with and to learn about new things. Your list is terrific! If I had to choose one, my first choice would be math. If I could pick another I would select Skitch. Best of luck Friday at your Edcamp!

      Mrs. Reed

    6. Hi Jemma,

      I tried to submit one comment but it may not have worked so I am trying again. Sorry if this is a duplicate. You have some terrific choices for your Edcamp. I love math so that would have to be my first choice. If that wasn't an option, my second choice would be Skitch. I know a little about that app and I'm sure I could learn more. Best of luck to you and your class Friday. Hope your event is super successful.
      Mrs. Reed


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