On Friday August 18th close to hundred teachers descended on the Ethel Walker school for a day of learning at #edcampct. For those who do not know edcamps started as an unconference where no vendorsd or proposal submissions. Instead learning occurs on demand.
When you attend an unconference teachers propose sessions by grabbing a sharpie and an index card. Teachers can either propose a session they want to attend of offer up their knowledge. You then, as a participant, “vote with your feet.” You attend the sessions that matter the most to your needs.
This year’s #edcampct, now in its seventh year was phenomenal. The amazing Sara Edson led a team of volunteers who pulled off an amazing event. The staff at the Ethel Walker school (especially the cooks) make us feel right at home. Ethel Walker School has quickly become one of the premier institute for exploring student centered learning and rethinking professional development.
Exploring Meaning Making in New Spaces
The first session I attended was on badges and digital credentials. Over twenty people sat in a room and waited for a presenter. No one stood up. The session was requested by a participant and not a presenter. So I stood up and offered what I knew of badges. Jeff Gilberto, who is exploring badges and professional development also jumped in to help. I first hopped on to Slack and asked for materials. Doug Belshaw sent me a quick slide deck. We went over terminology and then I demonstrated the pathways for academic blogging I use in my writing classes. I used badgr.io to create a badge for folsk and demonstrated how to iss ue a “Learning about Badges” badge.
The next session I attended was one I proposed called, “Hacking Fake News.” We first defined fake news using a turn and talk and then discussed the difference between fake news and perspectives. I suggested that very little news is fake and what we must focus on instead is understanding how perspectives shade truth. I also described my research that demonstrates teaching website credibility through checklists doesn’t work. We then discussed how having students create their own fake news can create a production based tool for learning. I then demonstrated how to install and use Mozilla’s x-ray goggles. Every participant put themselves on the front page of their local paper.
Next I described strategies for hacking sources for credibility. We discussed markers that we can play with such at author expertise and source credibility. We messed with making some authors more and other authors less credible. Then it was time for real important learning. We took President Donal Trump’s response to Charlottesville and rewrote it to reflect what he should have said instead of providing cover to neo-nazis and hate groups.
At the end of the day I was please when a teacher got up and said my session made her rethink how she teaches using the web. A history teacher got up and explained, “The fake news session taught not checklist but making students create their own fake news (Mozille X-ray goggles)”