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?