Edmodocon: The PD That Never Ends

Edmodocon: The PD That Never Ends

Shu Uesugi

At most conferences it’s courteous to give presenters one's unblinking attention while enjoying the pleasure of a Costco folding chair. However, at Edmodocon 2013 teachers could kick back in the comfort of their own armchairs at home--not only enjoying the show but taking part in the action as well. Thousands of educators from all over the world watched the workshops live from their computers.

This year’s event featured workshops from 12 different teachers including Bijal Damani, from Rajkot, India and Anna Davila from Sugarland, Tex. Topics ranged from "Facilitating Project Based Learning" to "Flattening the Classroom with Edmodo." Even Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg gave a five-minute pep talk, promoting her organization, Lean In, and urging teachers to use its very own Edmodo page to find resources to help them encourage leadership among their female students.

Some school districts streamed the event live, such as Chesterfield County School District in Va., which used the day as formal Professional Development. However, a select 200 teachers were invited to experience the action live and in person--in a small conference room in San Mateo, Ca.--Edmodo's headquarters. Lucky us: EdSurge was there to capture the action.

Some teachers had up to three devices spread across their laps, as they rapidly microblogged their way through presentations, on both Twitter and Edmodo. Each workshop featured a special Edmodo group where participants could chime in--and they did. The blogging teachers filled the comments sections of those groups with a continuous stream of affirmations, revelations, advice and resources. Presenters sometimes used the platform itself to make the presentations, and encouraged the audience to come back to the group page to ask questions whenever they wanted.

Through this flurry of activity, there seemed to be more than just workshops going on. Relationships formed between teachers in different parts of the world. Teachers commented on resources, and added their own advice on top of that of the presenters.

“I made a connection with a teacher from Flint, Michigan," said Christopher Patterson, a 5th grade teacher from Los Altos who was physically in the Edmodo room. "While we were in the workshop, we linked up on Edmodo and now we are planning to collaborate for this school year.”

Presenter Patrick Fogarty articulated it differently: “Though my presentation today I connected with thousands of people. I’ve presented at other conferences like SXSW, and maybe I’ll get 10 twitter followers and exchange a few business cards...but this is the only conference that doesn’t end.” Fogarty plans to continue to communicate with his Edmodocon group throughout the year. As he's done in the past, he will answer questions, continue to share resources, and participate in the conversation that he started in his original workshop.

No matter how many digital messages zinged through the ether, what made the day special were the very human relationships teachers formed, using the Edmodo platform as a bridge. When all the cameras are flipped off, the laptops snapped shut and even the room emptied out, it's the rich relationships between teachers that will continue to drive learning.

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