Attending your first Edcamp
So you’re interested in hosting an Edcamp. Well, the best way to learn how is to attend one. With hundreds of Edcamps happening all over the world every year, odds are pretty good you will be able to find something coming up near you. At an Edcamp, you will learn firsthand about the structure and shape of these special conversations. You might even be able to shadow an organizer for a day or so to learn more about the planning process.
If it’s not possible for you to get to one in person, look for an Edcamp online. Many Edcamps live stream their entire events, giving teachers all over the world the opportunity to attend their event over the internet. Either that or you can follow along on Twitter. Look for the hashtag of an Edcamp and take part in the conversations that are going on. Most Edcamps have open Google Docs connected to each session, so you can participate digitally in the conversations that are happening.
While it’s not absolutely necessary that you attend an event before starting your own, we know that the best preparation for planning an Edcamp is jumping in and attending one yourself. If you need help finding an Edcamp, just contact us and we’ll do our best to get you connected!
Putting together an organizing team
Edcamp is all about sharing our strengths as educators. There’s no need to try to organize an event all by yourself; reach out to your community and build it with a team. When putting together your team, remember that a good attitude is essential in all organizers. Edcamp thrives on cheerful good will, mutual respect, and shared enthusiasm for education. You will want to be sure that everyone on your team can support an open, passionate and collaborative conversation among educators from all walks of life.
Jump right in, and you can find all kinds of people willing to help put together your Edcamp. Your team doesn’t even have to be made up of people you have met before. Go ahead and post to Twitter or Facebook, you might be surprised at who responds.
Once your team is assembled, make sure to set up organizer meetings, whether in person or online, where you can put together a game plan. Designate roles, set schedules for the planning needs and for the day, and make sure that everyone is on the same page for your Edcamp as you move forward.
Remember you can always turn to the greater Edcamp community. Reach out to other organizers for guidance, or contact the Edcamp Foundation with your questions. We are all learning together; there is no such thing as a bad question or a pointless conversation. By sharing our experiences, we help Edcamp grow.
Finding a location
A good location can make hosting your Edcamp much easier. In order to select the right kind of place, you will want to stay attentive to your community. Has there ever been an Edcamp in your area? Is the interest level and awareness of Edcamp high or low? How much enthusiasm is there for the Edcamp? Are you getting lots of messages? Normally, you want to make sure you have enough space for 150-200 people at a first time Edcamp, but interest levels will vary, depending on your region, so make sure to listen to your community.
Every Edcamp location should have free, wireless internet, a large main room, and several break rooms where individual sessions can happen. Each break room should fit at least 30 people and have a projector, if possible. Don’t forget to consider parking and - of course - food. If you’re not providing food for your attendees, make sure there are places to eat within easy walking distance of your location.
Would your school or the school of one of the other organizers be willing to let you use the building on a weekend?
Schools tend to be the best places to look for your location. Check with local colleges and public schools; see if they have what you’re looking for. Engage your community, ask other teachers to check with their administrators to see if there is something available at their school.
Inviting people to come - Creating a buzz
Now that you’ve organized your team and found your location, you’re ready to start promoting your Edcamp. There are many cheap and easy methods for getting the word out, just take to the web!
You’ll need a Logo
Select a name for your Edcamp and create a logo.
Font: Century Gothic Regular (Download here) should be used for the text in your logo.
Use the Edcamp apple in your design Click here
Personalize your Logo: Each Edcamp is encouraged to be as creative as they choose in designing their logo. Click here for to see some examples Organizers often have students create their logo.
Twitter is an invaluable tool for raising awareness about your event. First, create a dedicated account for your Edcamp and start using a hashtag for your event. A good hashtag is just the name of your Edcamp, including the location. For example, if you’re hosting an event in Chicago, go with hashtag #EdcampChicago. It’s that simple. Also, include #Edcamp in your tweets, so other members of the community can find your Edcamp and help you promote it.
You’ll also want to create a Facebook event page for your Edcamp, so people can “like” your event and stay updated on news and developments. This will also give you a central online location where people can check in for all the important information about your Edcamp.
Flyers and emails about your Edcamp are also a great idea. Send out emails to anyone you think might be interested in the event, and ask your community to spread the word by forwarding your email to other educators. Hard copy flyers can go far in creating interest, just be sure to keep a good handle on your budget as printing costs can seriously add up over time.
Creating an online presence
While Facebook, Twitter and email are powerful tools for creating an online presence for your Edcamp, nothing beats a dedicated website. If you choose to make a website, it doesn’t have to be flashy or complicated, just a simple, straightforward site with all the necessary information will work wonders. You can contact us, and we will provide you with a website that is connected to the Edcamp Foundation, which will enhance the reach of your edcamp.
You can also use other platforms, such as Weebly, Wix, Jimdo, and Google Sites that can provide everything a dedicated Edcamp website needs.
No matter what platform you choose, you’ll want to make sure your site includes the following important information. These are all embedded in the website that the Edcamp Foundation provides.
Home Page On your homepage include all the necessary information, What (name of your Edcamp), Where (directions would be great), Time (start and end time). Also include Facebook and Twitter links. Don’t forget a link to ticketing (most edcamps use TicketLeap or Eventbrite but Google Forms also works).
What is Edcamp? Feel free to embed this video about Edcamp. What can people expect when they attend? Why are you bringing Edcamp to your community? The location, probably with a map of some sort included. Try embedding a google map into your page, it will help people get directions to where they’re going.
Sponsors. A page for your sponsors. The generosity of your sponsors helps you fund your Edcamp and make it the best event possible. Be sure to mention them on your site and possibly provide links to their pages to show you’re grateful for their support.
Session Board. Once you have determined your schedule for the day, include a blank session board so attendees can get an idea of how the day will unfold. Google Docs is most useful in creating a session board. It’s easy to edit the day of the event and easy to share so attendees may reference the session board on the day of your Edcamp. It’s also a great idea to create links to blank notes for each session. If you do this ahead of time, attendees can just click the link to notes and start sharing. Sample Session Board
Organizers Listing the organizers recognizes and celebrates them for volunteering. It’s a great idea to include a short bio along with a Twitter handle so participants may connect and build their PLN.
Contact information. Attendees will need to know how they can get in touch with you if they have any questions or would like to help in making your Edcamp a success.
Blog As your Edcamp approaches adding blog posts are a great way to drive interest. Some Edcamps feature individuals that are planning on attending while others post about current events in education that will certainly spark discussions. Whatever you blog about, be sure to tweet the link and post on Facebook to drive traffic to your website!
Funding your Edcamp. Edcamps are free to attendees, but hosting one can come with a price tag. The Edcamp Foundation wants to make this as easy as possible. The Edcamp-in-a-Box program was established to take away the pressure of significant fundraising. After you have organized your Edcamp and have a website and a system for registering people who want to attend, you can contact us and we will provide you with all of the necessary supplies needed to host your Edcamp: name tags, markers, post-it notes, painter’s tape and a $200 check to pay for the breakfast. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to be able to host an edcamp.
Some organizers want to have door prizes and other handouts for their edcamp. That is perfectly fine, though it is by no means a requirement. You can hold an edcamp without any of that.
If you want to look for other sponsors, go for it! Set up a google document to keep track of how much money or give-aways you want to collect and who you and your team are going to reach out to for support. Make sure your whole organizer team has access to this document, so you can all be on the same page and share in the work of finding funds.
Reach out to local businesses and see if they will donate gift certificates.
When you’re talking to your sponsors, give them all the information they’ll need to understand what it is you’re doing. Explain what Edcamp is, why you’re excited about it, and how their contribution can help you put together your event. If they ask, “What do you need?” go right ahead and tell them. Ask if they want to be sponsor “the big giveaway of the day,” which is a great way for them to get their business and brand noticed at an Edcamp. Always remember to let people know Edcamps are for teachers that get together to learn and share.
Once you’ve locked down sponsors, show your gratitude. Tweet about them, mention them on Facebook, put them on your website, and include their logo on promotional materials. And be sure to keep them updated on when and how their funds are being used. If they sponsored a giveaway, let them know that their materials have been handed out.
And of course, when your Edcamp is complete, reach out again to say thank you to all your sponsors. It’s important to keep a positive relationship with everyone who contributed so you can reach out to them again for next year’s Edcamp. Even in this day and age of technology, a handwritten or personal thank you note or email goes a long way.
Before it starts - Setting up the venue - visit ahead of time
A successful Edcamp relies on lots of organization and preparation before the big day. And there is plenty of work to go around. Engage your community and ask for volunteers to help set up and run your event. The earlier you get started on this, the better. Last minute attempts to get volunteers on board might not work out as you hope. It’s much better to have your volunteer team ready and in place well before they’re actually needed.
Also, make sure that you stay in constant contact with the people in charge of your location, weeks and even months in advance of your event. This will help you avoid miscommunications regarding your location, so you can be prepared for anything. Do a site visit beforehand to confirm your layout for the event, and make sure that your plan works with your location managers. And don’t forget to get all the necessary Wi-Fi information well ahead of time, you don’t want to be left without internet access at the start of your Edcamp.
You’ll also want to get all your food needs squared away before the event. If you’re providing food, make sure that it is ordered and paid for well before your event begins.
Once you’re on location, assign your volunteers wherever they’re needed. Get your session rooms and main area prepared, and be sure that everything is clearly marked. Put signs everywhere, the more the better. Over-informing your attendees is better than the alternative. Many organizers like to arrange the chairs or desks in each room in a circle to encourage conversations, rather than presentations.
The Morning of your Edcamp:
Post Signs - directions to your gathering spot, WiFi information, any other necessary signs based on your venue - make sure session rooms and bathrooms are clearly marked.
Session Board set-up - As early as possible, create a large grid with session times on one axis and room numbers on the other. Place Post-its and markers at several spots around the room. This can be made on a wall with painter’s tape or on a whiteboard.
Check that your online schedule is shared with anyone but only editable by your team.
Food- Get your coffee brewing and your breakfast set-up as soon as possible; you might be surprised at how early some educators are ready to start learning and sharing!
Registration Table - Be sure to have a table set up to check in attendees and hand out name tags. This is their first point of contact, so put your most welcoming organizer in this spot.
During the Event
Open your Edcamp with a statement to the whole group. Welcome them to your Edcamp and thank them for attending. Remember, attendees come to Edcamps in their free time with the aim of improving the quality of education in their own classrooms and beyond. Their participation is voluntary, and should be commended.
Explain how the day will unfold, review the tenets of an Edcamp:
Open to everyone
Created by participants on the day
Sessions facilitated by anyone
Reliant on the “law of two feet” that empowers everyone to find session that meet their needs
Give everyone the layout of the space. Tell them where certain events will take place, review the schedule for the day, and give them all the necessary WiFi information. Then introduce your organizer team so attendees know who they can turn to for information as the day moves on.
Encourage and inspire - It’s important to have friendly organizers walking around the room and encouraging participants to add a session to the board.
Session Board - have at least one organizer managing the session board, this person should make sure there are not two sessions on the same topic at the same time. It may be necessary to encourage participants to run sessions together.
Another organizer should be updating the online session board as it is being filled, this should be relatively easy as you will have created your google doc session board ahead of time.
After Your Edcamp - First take a moment to smile, you are awesome, you stepped up and made a difference. We at the Edcamp Foundation applaud you!
Be sure to walk through every space and leave the venue in the same or better condition than you found it.
Meet with your organizers and volunteers to reflect on the day. We hope you’ll want to plan another Edcamp and keeping a few notes may be helpful for the next Edcamp.
Send an e-mail to participants, thanking them for attending. It’s important to make them feel part of this new learning community. It will be these original attendees that will help drive up attendance for you next event.
If you had additional sponsors, send a thank you email to them.
Ask someone on your team to write a blog post and tweet out the link. Share that blog post with the Edcamp Foundation. @edcamp
Complete the Organizer Feedback Form from the Edcamp Foundation.
The Edcamp Foundation is here to help you. Just reach out through our website and we’ll be in touch. We wish you great success and thank you for being an Edcamp Organizer!