I’ve been following the discussion about EdCamps over the past few months – even thinking about organizing one in our area/province. The one thing I continue to be impressed with is that the people who attend make comments like

I recently went to the EdCampYEG with two fellow staff members. Well worth the 2 hr. trip. PD should always be like that – open, relevant and engaging…oh, and most enjoyable! Stephen Banks – Ed Administrators2.0

This is just one of the many comments that I’ve heard that are like this. In my discussion with others on this topic, it would seem that a great many found these events to be very useful, informative, fun and great learning experiences. In a recent twitter conversation, it was suggested that the “unconference” was really where things were at. I received the invitation for ISTE Unplugged, which use to be EdubloggerCon, which stated

each year hundreds of educators interested in social media. technology, and teaching and learning build and participate in “unplugged”-style activities as a part of their ISTE experience. All of these events are free, so come join us.

This takes place during the annual ISTE conference. Now, the conference takes place in San Diego this year and has the following topics

You’ll experience more than:

  • 300 model lessons, BYOD (bring your own device) sessions, lectures, and panels
  • 135 hands-on and seminar-demo workshops (additional fee)
  • 500 exhibiting companies, agencies, and organizations
  • 400 informal and interactive learning activities

Who wouldn’t want to go? But is this practical for a majority of teachers? And is this PD, which follows a traditional format giving the results that teachers need? Has the time come to reform our PD events in the way we are searching to reform what is happening in education? Do we need big conferences where many who are attending already are moving forward? Or is it time to change how we think about teachers’ learning – to find the local experts and develop the teachers at the local level in a less informal more highly engaged manner.

Of course, there wouldn’t be the places for the advertisers and vendors at these types of gatherings and there might not be the need to larger corporate style speakers. Instead, it would be teachers working and supporting teachers – administrators working with other administrators and teachers to develop and support one another and teachers. It would be focused on the needs of the people attending and evolve from their specific needs.

As someone who has presented to staff and at local conventions, I know that it is very powerful to work with a group of teachers to help them learn and grow. Instead of pressing my version of what education and learning should be, to work with teachers to help them build their own way. It’s no longer good enough to continue on the path we have been on. It’s time to step away from the well trodden path. There are many examples of great opportunities taking place for teachers at the local levels and we need to focus on these to a greater extent than we are at this time. Although the big conferences draw the vendors and the $, maybe, like so many other things from our past, we need to look to our experts within our own schools and trust them to help us develop the programs and schools that will reflect a 21st Century learning.