Last year, I had the honor of attending the National Association of Independent School’s (NAIS) annual conference in Washington, D.C. It was a great experience full of speakers who inspire and challenged the thinking.
During the conference, a number of us began talking about the inherent problem with NAIS and other major conferences, such as ISTE, especially those with technology strands. Because of the size of each of these endeavors, the conference planners need to have their call for submissions 5 – 7 months ahead of the conference. Because of this cycle, the inclusion of new creative and innovative ideas often have to wait for 18 months before they can be shared.
While this measured pace is good for those who are closer to the mainstream, for those of use who are wanting to discuss or exchange ideas about newer implementations have to seek each other out in the hallways. This requires the individual to know the people who are wanting to share/discuss/troubleshoot similar problems or ideas. In larger conferences, you may not personally know all of the people who share the needs as you. This can prevent you from being able to leverage the ability to connect with others who may be able to guide and inspire you.
Enter the EdCamp model. Shortly after the NAIS annual conference, a number of began a conversation that a great addition to the NAIS annual conference would be to offer a EdCamp or and EduBloggerCon type day at the beginning and end of the conference to allow for the intellectual sharing which the conference cannot offer. Under the leadership of many great folks, including Liz Davis, Kim Sivick, Anthony McGann, and Greg Bamford, discussions began ro create an EdCamp after NAIS. Through connections, the Northwest School agreed to host the event, which is being offered for free, to anyone in the area or is staying beyond the completion of the formal conference.
I am very excited about attending this event and looking forward to both learning and sharing. Our expectations are small and we hope for a small success so that we plan and repeat the event at the NAIS 2013 Annual Conference in Philadelphia. I look forward to connecting with friends new and old.