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Teachers take charge of agenda at EdCampOU

Friday, October 18, 2013
Teachers take charge of agenda at EdCampOU
By Katie Williams, contributing writer


This fall, more than 200 local educators will head back to school at Oakland University – for the good of the profession. 

On Saturday, Oct. 26 teachers, professors and administrators will participate in EdCampOU, a free professional development opportunity sponsored by the Oakland University School of Education and Human Services and the Galileo Institute for Teacher Leadership. The event will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Oakland Center. 

“We are proud to be associated with this outstanding event,” said Bob Maxfield, interim dean of the School of Education and Human Services. “It is truly remarkable that so many educators have chosen to devote a Saturday to sharing ideas about creating schools in which every child will succeed.” 

A self-proclaimed “unconference,” EdCampOU is part of a rapidly growing global movement of unique professional development. Designed to encourage collaborative learning, EdCamps are participant-driven and focus on discussions and hands-on sessions rather than traditional lectures. 

“EdCamps are the future of professional development,” John Bernia, a co-organizer of the event and a principal in the Lake Orion school district, said. “They’re more organic, more real and more collaborative. You’re not an attendee – you’re a participant.”

During EdCampOU, participants will be welcomed to both attend and facilitate sessions. The event will begin with a group discussion, where specific session topics will be decided based on the participants’ interests and expertise. 

EdCampOU will also include a panel discussion at 1:45 p.m. with members of the Michigan State Board of Education. 

“So often, professional development for educators is very “top down.” The topics, speakers, and content are selected by a few for many, based on what the few believe the many will benefit from,” Bernia said. “By allowing the participants to select the speakers, the content and even the format, EdCamps break with tradition and democratically allow for relevant, practical learning.” 

According to co-organizer Stephanie Dulmage, a curriculum and technology integration specialist in the West Bloomfield School district, this structure is beneficial because it is reflective of a real classroom environment. 

“EdCamp style workshops focus on learning, growth, and the development of personal learning networks beyond the school walls,” she said. 

“More importantly, this conference mimics the learning environment and opportunities we need to create for our students by supporting communication, collaboration, connections, personalization and the ownership of learning. It’s a powerful process and a great example of educators reclaiming the educational agenda.” 

This will be the second EdCamp at Oakland University, and organizers cite that registration has more than doubled since last year’s event. 

Registration has reached capacity, with 200 participants representing school districts throughout the region. However, those interested in attending are encouraged to join the waitlist

For more information about EdCampOU, visit the website. To follow along with the insights and experiences of the participants during the event, follow @edcamp_ou on Twitter.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with more than 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.