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EdCampChicago – Recap, Review and Reflect

I’ve sat at the keyboard for the last five minutes trying to figure out the proper way to start this post.  You see, I’m not an events guy.  I mean, I love events, and I’m never short on ideas for events.  But I’m not the most organized person in the world, and putting together something like an EdCamp was more than just a little stressful to me.  However, now that the event has come and gone, I can take a step back and really appreciate just how incredible the day was.  And before too much time has elapsed, I wanted to share some thoughts on the entire experience.

First of all, a few thank yous.  Chad Lehman (@imcguy) was the co-organizer of the event.  I’d say he volunteered, but that wouldn’t be quite factual.   Way back on October 11th, I mentioned that I was thinking it’d be nice to have an education uncoference in the midwest.  Chad replied that he’d be interested, to which I said “Thanks for volunteering!  What date is it going to be?”  And then I hounded him until he actually agreed to be the co-organizer (sucker).  Time and again, we would chat on the phone, create a list of things that needed to be done, and then take the lion’s share of making sure they happened.  The event wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for his leadership, so for that I give him major props.

I also have to thank our volunteer crew.  Not only did they raise their hands and say that they wanted to help, they took on a role and RAN with it.  Naomi Harm not only volunteered to handle the livestreams from the event, she organized a small crew (including her husband) and had the archives up on the site within 24 hours.  Brendan Murphy created the name badges, including QR codes and setting out a ton of materials for people to add their own little personal tweaks to them.  Jodi Greenspan created and kept up with our Featured Attendee posts leading up to the event. Nancy Stewart made the connection at EdCampPhilly, which was happening the same day. Debbie Gleason gathered together all the materials we needed for the agenda board (including the sticky notes that everybody commented on).  Anne Truger not only hounded companies for door prizes, but organized all the prizes on site as well.  Stuart Ciske who also brought in a plethora of prizes to give away.  Erica Roberts sacrificed some of her first session to get the agenda online right away.  And last but certainly not least, Jim Gubbins, who tracked down door prizes, created the kick-butt QR code challenge, and archived very single tweet that was posted from the event… by hand.   If I missed anybody, I humbly apologize.  There were a ton of others that helped put up signs, check people in, set up food and so on.  Every little bit was appreciated, believe me.

I also have to thank the good folks at Lenovo.  We had a ton of sponsors that put up door prizes, but Lenovo picked up the bill for the site itself, provided breakfast and lunch for all attendees, and even gave away a ThinkCentre M90z (congrats @taml17!), the same computer I’ve written about and am using with Aiden.  They were fantastic to work with, and are demonstrating a real commitment to educators by hosting days like this.  Big ups for making this event happen!

The day itself was a blast, from top to bottom.  Some personal highlights were watching that agenda board fill up, and having exactly the number of sessions that we had rooms for.  Karma?  Walking around during that first session and seeing such a huge variety of types of conversations going on was a real treat.  The iOS apps session was packed and the list of apps shared would take people weeks to work through.  Other rooms had far less people, but some incredibly passionate conversations were taking place.  Five of us left the school building to do a quick round of GeoCaching, and wound up finding both caches we sought out!  Upon returning, I jumped into a conversation about social bookmarking, and am now being forced to reconsider whether I should stick with Delicious or not.  Finally, I saw that an impromptu “smackdown” was taking place in the atrium, which I sat in on for about 10 minutes.  Heard about plenty of old favorites, as well as some new sites that I’m going to need to make time to explore.

There’s quite a bit I’d like to share about the process itself, what worked, what I think could have been done differently, but this post is going on long enough as it is.  So I’ll wrap things up with some links to a few blog posts that stemmed from the event.  I was a little surprised, and quite thrilled, at how many people told me this was their first unconference. It really demonstrated yet again how important it is that we keep reaching out and giving people opportunities to experience these life changing events for themselves.  It’s still a new idea to the majority of educators out there.

A huge thank you to everybody that attended the event.  It’s a leap of faith to give up a Saturday for an event that doesn’t have any speakers, session titles, or agenda set in advance.  I appreciate your taking that chance, and hope it provided you with a learning experience that not only met your needs, but provided you with inspiration that you could take back to your own buildings.  Just remember, being inspired can make a difference in your classroom.  But sharing that inspiration with others can make a difference in hundreds of classrooms.

SO…. who’s volunteering to organize the next one?

  • Great, now I don’t need to write up my own reflection. It would be almost the same. The only exception would be credit you gave me. By no means did I do as much as you think. This was a GROUP effort. Sure, we were the two guys who got the ball rolling, but it was a collective group that made the event a success – most importantly, everyone who attended.

    Well done Steve, thanks for getting me involved.

    Chad Lehman

    5/23/2011

  • The only exception would be credit you gave me. By no means did I do as much as you think.

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  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts.I really appreciate them.

    Buy Essay

    5/23/2011

  • Thanks for taking the time to share your views with us

  • Thank you everyone who attended! (I was the raffle ticket lady with purple hair) We can’t wait to share the collaboration story with Lenovo- they are going to be thrilled! And Thank you again Chad and Steve–you guys rock!!

    halley

    5/24/2011

  • [...] online.  The organizers created a website, a facebook page, Twitter hashtag #edcampchicago, blogged about the event, and spread as much word of mouth as they could before, during, and [...]

  • Thanks for sharing. Quite an inspiring post. I feel motivated to do something like this too!

    Solar Power Guy

    5/29/2011

  • Hey…
    i really appreciate your thoughts. you have a unique way of thinking.

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    6/7/2011

  • Very nice thoughts and idea….i’m glad to read this article.Thanks for this..great job..I hope to read more of your post.

    Aliza

    6/8/2011

  • Very much helpful topic sir,
    i like that and i want to say that i am totally agree with you.

  • This is a wonderful website. The site owner has carried out a superb job of putting it together, the info here is really insightful.

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    6/14/2011

  • You answered some questions I had on this topic. Ill tell my friends about this blog. Thanks!

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    6/17/2011

  • You made some very useful and interesting points within your post. I like the way of your explanation. Very useful for all readers.

  • Sounds like it was great day, Steve! BarCamps and unconferences have been around for so long in the tech community, I’m honestly a little sad that it took this long for the education community to “steal” the idea.
    Wish I could’ve made either Philly’s or Chicago’s that day. (Still working hard to connect with people in Boulder to create one here.)

    Robert Rowe

    6/24/2011

  • i absolutely liked reading everything that is posted on your blog keep the posts coming. I enjoyed it.

  • I can’t help to see the next event you will be doing.

    Bowen Agency

    7/4/2011

  • It is useful to me!
    Thanks for you!

    golf Glove

    7/6/2011

  • This is the best post on this topic i have ever read.I am really very impressed with it.Keep blogging.

    Hazel

    7/6/2011

  • I’m sure all the event that you will do will be successful! Can’t wait to see the next one!

    Minuteman Spill

    7/8/2011

  • interesting article
    thanks for the post
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    elenalee

    7/12/2011

  • Great experience you have there. Memories always last.

    Laura Ashley

    7/19/2011

  • Nice article! Thanks a lot for it!

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  • me to I really appreciate your effort for your posting on this.I already read many article have similarity topic on this and i think this article is the best.

    denver

    7/25/2011

  • I think the comment i will share on this post is i do agree of all good comment receive on this page its deserve on this and thank you cause i really learn on this.

    Dar

    8/1/2011

  • This is so fantastic, I can take a step back and really appreciate just how incredible the day was.

    Abe Astillo

    8/4/2011

  • I really like this post so amazing and fantastic. Many people will really hold a conversation on this site because the topic here is very nice.

  • It does sound like a great day, thanks for sharing

    James

    9/8/2011

  • Thanks for sharing. I also attended EdcampChicago and I love your point of “would you stay”. I wasn’t sure what to expect on Saturday, but it was a fantastic experience with great people. I had so many rich conversations that at a “traditional” conference just don’t happen. At face to face conferences people are always rushing from place to place and the rich conversations seem to get lost.

    Steve

    10/11/2011

  • So far, I managed to go though only some of the posts you have here, but I find them very interesting and informative. Just want say thank you for the information you have shared.

  • Its really very nice.I found its very intersting

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    1/9/2012

  • [...] online.  The organizers created a website, a facebook page, Twitter hashtag #edcampchicago, blogged about the event, and spread as much word of mouth as they could before, during, and [...]

  • The blog was very ineresting and fully expressed your thoughts.

    Jane Green

    4/26/2012

  • Sounds like it was great day, Steve! BarCamps and unconferences have been around for so long in the tech community, I’m honestly a little sad that it took this long for the education community to “steal” the idea.
    Wish I could’ve made either Philly’s or Chicago’s that day. (Still working hard to connect with people in Boulder to create one here.)

    Elena Sinclair

    7/29/2012