At EdCamp Santiago 2012, in order to carry out a learning journey different from the usual way, the organizers of this “unconference style” peer-to-peer learning activity privileged dialogue among participants over the usual “conference style” presentations, lectures and plenaries by an expert or guru…
Teachers who were part of Edcamp Santiago 2012 felt like they were the real protagonists of the activity, actively participating and learning from one another. Also, unlike traditional seminars or lectures, the goal here is that teachers themselves will listen to each other and share their experiences. Everyone is considered to be an expert, with something of value to share with their colleagues.
According to Damian Rivlin, Director of Technology, Faculty of Education, University Mayor, and one of the event organizers, “the idea today is that yes, we have a guru, we have some experts, but officially we have no guru.
We’re not paying people to come here and wow us with their knowledge, experience, or expertise like at a traditional conference.
Instead, we are looking for teachers who are here to shape the experience of today and create durable, long-lasting professional connections with colleagues.
This is promoted by focusing on collaboration instead of competition, which is a key aspect of what EdCamp Santiago is trying to accomplish.”
The methodology that was developed during the day were several informal meetings where a teacher acting as a guide in the exchange of best practices and experiences among teachers.
Later, in the afternoon, roundtable discussions and shared learning took place. The novelty of this EdCamp concept is that it included a “real time”, simultaneous, online videochat with EdCamp Delta, in British Columbia, Canada that was also being held on the same day, but on the continent of North America, in parallel with EdCamp Santiago, here on the continent of South America.
Microsoft Chile provided the technical expertise for the videochat with EdCamp Delta. The hardware used was the Microsoft Lync. The necessary training was all we needed for an excellent, high quality live connection between both EdCamps.
“Microsoft Lync is an enterprise-ready, unified communications platform. Lync connects people everywhere, on Windows 8 and other devices, as part of their everyday productivity experience.
Lync provides a consistent, single client experience for presence, instant messaging, voice, video and a great meeting experience. Lync 2013 users can connect to anyone on Skype, enabling rich communication with hundreds of millions of people around the world.
Lync Meetings bring together traditionally separate components of desktop video, audio, and web conferencing, content sharing and room-based video conferencing solutions into a single, unified experience.”
Among the topics to discuss were reflections on the teaching of English, Criterion-Referenced Assessment, the use of newspapers in the classroom using the I Love Chile (English language) newspaper, speech and language, The 21st Century English Teacher, Twitter for Teachers: Using Twitter as a PLN Tool, Education & Family Context in Chile, among others.
In collaboration with Edcamp Delta, the topics discussed simultaneously were the successes and challenges of education in Chile and Canada.
Kyria Finardi, professor at the Federal University of Brazil, traveled especially to Chile to be part of EdCamp Santiago 2012. She said her intervention was based on “what it means today to be a teacher of English because teaching English is different than it was in the past. It’s not the same to say that one is learning a foreign language and to say that one is learning English. This is two fundamentally different concepts.”
She added, however, that “the main reason I came over here was to help organize the event because what you’re doing here started in the United States, has spread across the border to Canada and this new professional development concept is just now making its way down to the Southern Cone, where you have Chile, Argentina, Brazil, etc. located. It’s really all about people participating, making more of a contribution to their own learning. It is much more powerful approach than simply going to a place to listen passively to someone give a talk.”
This EdCamp professional development experience will surely be one that marks a Before and After, a turning point, in regards to collaborative professional development educational activities…