I heard many educators last week at ISTE10 ask what an “unconference” was. Since so many hadn’t attended EdubloggerCon on Saturday, I could understand how they had trouble grasping the concept, especially after going back and looking through the Tweets with the hashtag.
Since Liz Davis and I have spent some time over the last few days making sure that everything is set for EdubloggerCon East in Boston this Monday, I thought I would break down, in simple terms, what my take on an unconference is, since there seems to be some different definitions floating around.
What is an unconference?
- A participant driven gathering of people talking about a common theme
- Examples include edcamp, barcamp and edubloggercon
Why would you want to attend one?
- Everyone at an unconference has a voice. Here you would get to hear from educators you might not typically learn or share with at other more formal events.
- You don’t have to feel obligated to stay in a session. Feel free to apply the “Rule of Two Feet”. If you feel you have joined a discussion that does not meet your needs, let your feet take you to another discussion.
- There are no requests for proposals (RFP’s) for an unconference. You just put your name and session idea on a wiki or chart paper. These are just conversations and there is no need to have a formal presentation as you and your group should be having a conversations. Perhaps you’d like to start one.
- You get to meet some of the people that you communicate with on Twitter, Plurk, in Nings out in the Edublogosphere.
- Unconferences are typically FREE
How can you participate?
- Unconferences are usually advertised via Twitter, conference sites, blogs, wikis. (Since they are free to attend, they don’t have any funding for formal advertising.)
- You can participate in person, via the backchannel, or they are usually Ustreamed.
- Come to the unconference in person. No one is ever turned away.
Having said all this, EdubloggerCon East is scheduled for this Monday, July 12. For the 3rd year, Alan November and the November Learning team have graciously donated space to this free unconference. Liz and I set up a wiki, communicated with Jennifer Beine with regards to how much space we think we are going to need and the rest is really up to the attendees.
This year session topics include:
- Unconferences for everybody: edcamp
- Renaming/Rethinking 21st Century Learning
- Design Simplicity or “The Beauty of the Widened Vertical Scroll Bar”
There are several others listed on the session grid and I’m hoping additional attendees will come forward and fill in the blanks that morning. We’ll be streaming at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ebce10 and you can follow us on Twitter using the #ebce10 hashtag.