- Since their inception in 2010, Edcamps have been growing in popularity across the globe for their highly personalized approach to teacher professional development (PD), according to eSchool News.
- The model, based on a similar BarCamp for computer scientists, strives to be learner driven. There are no planned presentations or speakers for meetings; sessions are intentionally spontaneous and created day-of, based on the interests of attendees. Edcampers are encouraged to leave sessions that don’t meet their needs.
- School districts, stakeholders and teachers can host Edcamps, which are free to attend and noncommercial in nature.
The rise of informal, learner-driven models such as Edcamps for PD in recent years demonstrates a growing desire among educators for a more personalized approach to their learning — much like what they offer to students in their own classrooms.
Studies have shown that the most effective teacher PD is focused on content and promotes active learning and collaboration between educators. “This approach moves away from traditional learning models and environments that are lecture based and have no direct connection to teachers’ classrooms and students,” researchers write in a report for the Learning Policy Institute.
As a variety of strategies take hold to foster this approach, including Edcamps, districts have reported better engagement and results when teachers are able to have ownership over their development. For example, a representative of the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indiana said in May that attempts to personalize PD weren’t working until teachers were able to tailor the curriculum to what they needed and select from a variety of training formats, including online and small group sessions.
There is, however, such a thing as giving teachers too much control over their learning, some experts argue, saying that PD should focus on students — not necessarily teachers’ personal interests — and align with district goals.