edcamp Philly 2011

All but the first of these photos were taken by my friend Scot Wittman (aka @mapographer); it was so great to have someone from my school community — and an actual photographer, no less! — with me at edcamp Philly this year!

I’ve become something of an unconference fangirl.

@mapographer halfway down the stairs
at edcamp Philly 2011

(Chalk helps folks know they’re in the right spot.)

(@kjarrett & co. welcoming folks)

Creating the schedule.

(@mbteach, facilitating)

(deciding on our next session;
plus me, in the yellow t-shirt, back left)

I am drawn to unconferences for some of the same reasons I am drawn to Quaker Meeting or a block party. I like the idea of creating a well-designed container for conversation and connection, without determining ahead of time exactly what those conversations will be about, or who will connect. More “hang out in the kitchen,” less “sit in your appointed seat in the formal dining room.”

I am also perpetually interested in the idea of what is required for these containers we create to feel genuinely inclusive. Watching Heather Gold’s recent talk on “Tools for Tummeling” at WordPress reminded me again of the power of acknowledgment. We all want to be seen and recognized for who we are. But inclusivity doesn’t just happen. Unconferences have a few structural elements which I believe lean in the direction of inclusivity. Unconferences typically have a non-hierarchical approach to planning and often recommend an explicit decoupling of interest from approval (just because I leave your session to check in on another one doesn’t mean that I think what you have to say isn’t valuable). These can make unconferences a better container for me than a more traditional conference structure. Unconferences have also helped me more clearly understand the elements of traditional conferences that DON’T work for me. (E.g. I’m supposed to know what I’m going to want to facilitate a conversation about nine months ahead of time?! And there won’t be any wireless access?! What?!)

I am very excited to attend an event next week being curated by Jeff Pulver of 140 Characters Conference fame. The testimonials about his past events are pretty compelling. I’m also still a little shocked that I’ll actually be speaking. And hoping my students and I can talk fast enough to leave room for some meaningful (if brief) connections with the other folks in the room.

(Our assigned time slot at 140edu
is at 3:45pm on Tuesday, August 2nd.
We’ll be talking about “Changing our ringtones:
going beyond ‘default’ as learners”
And they’re going to try to livestream it,
so do follow along at home
if you’re not able to make it to the 92nd Street “Y” in NYC.)

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Posted on July 29, 2011, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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