The first Edcamp Arkansas was held on the University of Central Arkansas campus on October 5, 2013. Sixty participants attended the all day event and included teachers and administrators from across the state as well as college and university personnel and pre-service and in-service teachers.
The event began at 8:30am with registration and session creation. The first annual rock-paper-scissors championship of Arkansas was held to kick off the event. Participants then attended 16 different sessions across the day and visited the available “TED talk” room. Lunch was provided by the UCA Department of Teaching and Learning. The day ending at 3pm with door prizes provided by the Edcamp Arkansas sponsors including Remind 101; Educlipper; Adam Bellow, author of Untangling the Web; Class Dojo; Dave Burgess, author of Teach like a PIRATE; Flocabulary; Socrative; Livebinders; BrainPop; BoomWriter; Edutopia; Glogster; Vocabulary-Spelling City; Go! Animate!; Voki; Nearpod; Edmodo; the UCA Department of Teaching and Learning; and the UCA College of Education.
Session offerings at the Fall 2013 Edcamp Arkansas included Twitter for Teachers, Technology Organization and Digital Curation, iPads in the Classroom, Technology Integration, Livescribe, Kidblog, National Board Certification, Next Generation Science Standards, PARCC Test Considerations, TESS Teacher Evaluation, Parental Involvement, Renewal and Teacher Joy, Classroom Management, and Teaching to Diverse Learners.
The Edcamp model provides one recent and increasingly popular approach to providing relevant and responsive professional development. An Edcamp is often referred to as an “unconference” in that no pre-set agenda exists. Instead the content and sessions of the Edcamp day relies solely on the participants with common foci being technology, pedagogy, and current issues and trends.
Participants of an Edcamp engage in an ad-hoc community structure as they are called upon to lead or take part in conversations they define. If a participant feels their needs are not being met, they are welcome to join another session on their own initiative. The underpinning philosophy of Edcamp is that the agenda that emerges the day of the camp is the only agenda that could have happened and is therefore the right agenda for those who attended (Boule, 2011).
The first Edcamp was held in May 2010 in Philadelphia, and over 200 Edcamps have been held since that inception. The vision of the Edcamp Foundation is to “promote organic, participant-driven professional development for K-12 educators worldwide” (Edcamp Foundation, 2012).
Edcamps possess certain shared attributes. They are free to all participants. There is no vendor or commercial presence, although Edcamps can seek sponsorship. Edcamps can be hosted by anyone interested in the Edcamp vision and mission. The sessions are determined the day of the event and do not have to take the form of formal presentations. Edcamps are reliant on the “law of two feet” where participants are able to change sessions as they wish. Social media (i.e., blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook) can be used to continue the work started the day of the camp (Edcamp Foundation, 2012). Additionally, technology is a presence at the camp in the form of interactive connectivity and presentations (i.e., backchannels, twitter, polling sites, video rooms).