At the first Summit in Philadelphia, there was an amazing session on how to make the edcamp experience more conducive to introverts. They started the conversation with defining what it means to be an introvert. It doesn’t mean that someone is necessarily antisocial or shy; it simply means that they draw energy from being alone, rather than among other. They are people for whom an edcamp, with all of its energy and interactions can be exhausting.
They talked about what parts of an edcamp cater to an extrovert. The time of building the session board is often noisy and hectic, with the sessions themselves and their focus on conversation adding to the sense of vulnerability of an introvert.
Some strategies that they developed are:
- Send out lots of information before the event on what to expect: what to wear, schedule of the day, etc.
- Write a blog post or email on who is coming, what they do, etc. Include their photos.
- Provide for a calm start to the day.
- Have a variety of types of people greeting everyone as they come in, both energetic and calm.
- Make it easy to get registered, so that it isn’t necessary to push through a crowd. Divide up the name tags alphabetically, so everyone isn’t heading to the same table.
- Always ask if it is their first time at an edcamp. Have a table set up for Newcomers, with an experienced edcamp person there to answer any questions and make connections among the new people.
- Have an Edcamp 101 during the 1st session, so that newcomers who are introverts can easily learn the ropes.
- At breakfast and lunch, have Birds of a Feather topics on some of the tables: such as Elementary, Middle School, High School. This allows a new person or an introvert to find a place without having to ask to join a group or to sit by themselves.
- Have an introductory Icebreaker activity at the beginning of the day to begin to build connections. Avoid any that might create stress.
- Line up by birthday
- “People who like….” cross the room
- Create a space to just hang out, both in between and during sessions.
- Have a Twitter challenge at the end of the day to provide a way to maintain new connections.
- Create a Facebook page to connect everyone who wants to join.
What are your thoughts on other strategies that edcamp organizers can put into place to make coming to an edcamp more friendly to those of us who are introverts?