Thursday, November 1, 2018

Edcamp Loyola Part II: This Time, It's Personal

A great sequel is difficult to pull off. For every The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part II there are fifty Jurassic Park: The Lost World entries. Most sequels simply seek to profit off of the success of the original without giving too much in return. Much to my pleasant surprise, the second Edcamp Loyola fell into the former category of sequels. Like The Empire Strikes Back, I can, without hesitation, say that this year’s undertaking actually surpassed its ancestor in scope and energy.

As with last year’s Edcamp Loyola, I was fortunate enough to work on the volunteer committee. Part of what made this year so excellent was the sheer number of extra volunteers, each bringing his or her own area of experience and expertise. There was so much less stress on each individual volunteer this year, and it seemed as if, on the whole, everyone’s energy levels stayed high and gave the committee as a whole even more momentum.

This energy seemed to pass onto the participants. While October 27, the day of the Edcamp, dawned gloomily with rain in the forecast, we welcomed more than twice the number of participants from 2017’s inaugural Edcamp. With more people came more ideas for the Big Board, more engaging discussion, and more fun! Everyone seemed to be in a great mood, and having DJ Sarah Thomas on the turntables didn’t hurt when it came to getting everyone excited about the day.

The Big Board was quickly filled to capacity, there was a BreakoutEDU room open all three sessions, and we had a Digital Playground, as well, where Edcampers could experience all manner of makerspace electronics. There was literally something for everyone! The conversations in the rooms were constant and rapid. Everyone wanted to share and no facilitators were really needed. Sometimes the room even broke into two or three groups to form mini-sessions and then reform into one larger group to discuss. I’ve been to a number of Edcamps, and this was, by far, the most energetic and active I’ve seen.

This concept of energy was echoed by Mitsuko, a participant who spoke up during closing activities. She said she had been to an Edcamp in Japan and couldn’t believe how excited everyone was here. Whether it was dancing, breaking out of boxes, or cheering loudly when someone won one of the many donations from some incredible vendors, the joy of the day was surpassed only by the extreme learning and sharing accomplished by the participants!

I wanted to give you a small sense of this excitement and joy, so I created a Wakelet with the tweets of the day, all curated with #EdcampLoyola. Perusing these tweets, you will see all the reactions from so many people. You’ll see the small additions at Edcamp Loyola that you won’t find everywhere: a live DJ; a live Tweet and Talk during lunch, hosted by EduMatch with a six-person panel discussing connecting globally; a digital petting zoo in the Digital Playground; the entire room learning to Floss at the end of the day. The list goes on and on. You can see, as well, all the wonderful donations and donors in the Wakelet.

Having experienced both Edcamps hosted by Loyola, I can honestly say this one left me with goosebumps, eagerly awaiting the third installment next year. If you couldn’t attend this year, I do hope to see you in 2019! If this thing grows exponentially, you will be in for one heck of a ride! Don't just take my word for it, though. I think the following tweet shows exactly how much the Edcampers enjoyed the 2018 version and sums up the general vibe of the day: