June 13, 2012

Off to Camp: EdCampIndy

My first edcamp experience this week was fantastic at the first edcampIndy.  Reading about the "unconference" style and loose planning made me a little wary about topic choices, but I was pleasantly surprised.  Frankly, I should have known better, because in a  room full of educators who have sought out the edcamp experience, someone was bound to have an opinion and something good to share.  And WOW did these teachers share!

Discovering new web tools was very exciting, like symbaloo, where you can create a webmix of your favorite bookmarks in a visual app-style layout.  This symbaloo features several web tools shared at edcampIndy.  Organizational tools like Evernote, Diigo, and LiveBinders were also popular topics.

Some new favorite web search tools are InstaGrok, a concept map style search engine, and StumbleUpon, which "stumbles" you through the internet based on your interests.  

For curriculum support, check out Thinkfinity and Edutopia, but I really got excited about Edsitement which focuses on Humanities and has lesson plans complete with helpful resources.  

Discussions about flipped classrooms (or flipping the teacher) came up in every session, and these resources shared as support for the flipped environment included Sophia.org, Hippo Campus, and of course, Khan Academy.  Along with flipped classrooms, we talked about open source content and flex books, like the ones found on CK-12.  To display content in a different way, try ThingLink and make an image interactive with media, or students could create their own infographics with Visual.ly.

edcampIndy was a great place to meet like-minded educators, like Justin Vail @TheVails and Jen Wells @madamewells who were powerhouses of information to share and facilitated great discussions. 

I enjoyed the casual atmosphere and open discussions, where there were no dumb questions.  The session facilitators did a great job of getting the conversations started and then turning over the dialogue to others.  At the end of the day there was a Smackdown of final thoughts, resources and take-away moments, which was a really fun way to end the day.  Overall, edcampIndy was a great success and I will be back next year!

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