Saturday, October 15 people who care about education will gather at Toronto’s York University for Edcamp Toronto. The unconference is billed as “an exciting new approach to professional dialogue and learning…dedicated to expanding and extending…conversations about schooling and education in the 21st century.” The EdCamp Toronto website (not to be confused with the EdCamp Toronto wiki or the EdCamp Toronto page on the EdCamp wiki) says the event is participant-driven; relying on the expertise, experiences and enthusiasm of all those who register.

The current post on the EdCamp Toronto website, EdCamp Toronto:Come Find Your Passion,Come Raise Your Voice! gives 10 reasons to attend. The list highlights the participant driven nature of unconferences and I’d like to add one more reason to attend and one suggestion on how to attend.

Attend because, if you know what you want, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get it. This is due to the unconference Law of Two Feet that says, if you’re not getting what you need out of a session, get up, get out and go to another one – or start your own in the hall. People won’t be offended – they’ll be doing the same thing themselves.

I’ve been to several social media unconferences and participants often say some of their best learning happened during impromptu hall sessions.

My advice on how to attend is simple – volunteer.

Unconferences are free partly because they’re volunteer driven and volunteering has a couple of key benefits:

  • it gives you an inside look at how an unconference is run; and
  • it lets you connect with other volunteers on a deeper level than if you were both just attending. And since volunteers are, by definition, dooers, you’ll be connecting with people likely to put their learning into action.

EdCamp Toronto is about education in general – not just technology and education – so there are sessions that are explicitly about technology and many that aren’t. But what’s neat about that is, those who go to the tech sessions can then share what they learn in the non-tech sessions. After all, idea is to find the best solutions to educational problems – whether the solution is high-tech or low tech. Still, here are some of the suggested tech-ed topics currently listed:

  • How can we use technology to generate and focus discussion in the classroom?
  • Building the Classroom for Tomorrow
  • Gaming in schools
  • Data literacy
  • Digital access
  • Gaming isn’t for education, education is for gaming
  • Analyzing the effects of social media in school
  • 21c. learning technology in education. Google Docs??
  • Putting a 21st century learning classroom together (planning for successful implementation)
  • Technological innovation to improve the quality of education
  • Social Networks – Where is the Balance?
  • Assistive Technology
  • Web 2.0 tools and 2nd language instruction
  • Stop Motion Animation with Frames.
  • Using Technology to Motivate Boy Writers
  • How can we help students learn effective uses of communications technology?
  • Incorporating collaborative tech tools in the class
  • Literacy and digital media: how reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic is changing to incorporate more technology; and how learning is changing because of it

Go get your learn on.

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