The second annual Edcamp Arkansas was held on Saturday, September 27, 2014 on the University of Central Arkansas campus. This year, over fifty 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. Participants then work to build the sessions for the day based on interest in the room. Once again the annual “rock-paper-scissors” activity led to the session presentations. At the end of the day, participants engaged in an App Attack activity and closing remarks accompanied. Door prizes were contributed by the following very generous donors: AETN, BoomWriter, LiveBinders, Book Creator App, BrainPop, Flocabulary, Vocabulary Spelling City, Edutopia, the UCA Department of Teaching and Learning, and the UCA College of Education.
The 2014 Edcamp Arkansas event saw the grassroots creation of 16 separate sessions including sessions in technology curriculum and assessment, and teacher leadership. A full list of sessions included: (1) Joyful Teaching, (2) Differentiated Instruction, (3) Assessment Strategies, (4) Teacher Efficacy and Leadership, (5) Classroom Management, (6) Cultural Competence, (7) Parental Involvement, (8) Dyslexia/Dysgraphia, (9) Teaching Writing and Blogging, (10) Common Core and PARCC Strategies, (11) Bloomboard/TESS, (12) Virtual Arkansas and K-12 LMS Options, (13) Technology and Math Instruction, (14) Evernote, (15) Google Apps, and (16) E-Texts/Multitouch Texts.
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).
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).