EdCampHome inspired ParentCamp

Wow. That simple word summarizes my initial reaction and continuing respect for the organizers of #EdCampHome. I’m a huge fan of EdCamps and have attended in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Metro DC. This year I want to get a couple teachers to day trip it to Baltimore for another EdCamp. The difference with EdCampHome was the lack of travel. There was still all the excitement and the great conversations without having to deal with traffic and parking. People were not limited in geographic region; there was global participation (I heard at least one person from Mexico and another from Canada).

The organizers showed extreme flexibility and creativity when problem solving. Not surprising with the number of people, the technology was finicky. There were too many people trying to work on the GoogleDoc, so it just slowed down for everyone.  During some of the downtime I envisioned a ParentCampHome.

Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 4.22.07 PM

This post is me attempting to think through all the different steps that need to happen for ParentCamp Hershey to be a success. I’ve wanted to have an unconference for the parents. We already provide technology open houses, but the topics are set by the organizers. I think we should ask the parents what they want to know more about. Their requests are not limited to technology, it could be pedagogy, policy, or something else. In non-traditional EdCamp fashion, I would have parents turn in their topics ahead of time through a Google Form. Getting the Google Hangouts On Air took more time than anticipated. I want those ready to go before the parents log in. For ParentCampHome, the participates do not have to worry about far distances, for some they will prefer to be on campus, which is fine. The online option will make it more convenient for families who would otherwise need a babysitter.

The sign up document for the session did not work (in my opinion). Like mentioned before, the hundred people trying to sign up at once froze the process. Finally I was able to sign up for two sessions, but I never received an invitation into either. However, I was able to attend a session through a link someone posted on Twitter. For parents I would forgo a signup sheet, and just provide the links to join posted on the website. The first 8 parents in could participate live. Other parents interested in the topic would still be able to watch from YouTube and send in their questions through a backchannel chat. For parent comfort and clarity, we would use Today’s Meet instead of Twitter for the backchannel. I envision a different backchannel for each session and an additional one for technology questions.

Just like for EdCampHome, the website is extremely important at the event central. I’ve already come up with the skeleton of a website for ParentCamp that can be edited and adapted as necessary.

I do not know how many teachers are already familiar with Google Hangouts. This would be something we need to provide professional development for. It could either be a 15 minute explanation during a faculty meeting or a 3 hour session that they can earn PD credit for. Google Hangouts have application outside of this one event. I found four resources that do a good job explaining Google Hangouts:

I would also need a group of students to be Hangout trained so they could help teachers on location and remotely help parents through a backchannel help desk. I already have the perfect student group in place. This would be something fun to use with our BYOT Club. It does have academic applications. Students have mentioned joining together on Skype to complete homework or watch required videos. Google Hangouts would be another way for them to collaborate at home.

Parents would need a condensed version of training. Videos showing parents how to join and what to expect would be posted on the ParentCamp website. For them it would be differentiating between their comfort level: either participating with their webcam or just watching and basically texting in comments or questions.

For the evening of the event. There would need to be at least two teachers per session. One could focus on the online elements and the other to work with the parents on location. The teachers would need to make sure to relay comments made by the group of parents to the camera so everyone can hear. The Google Hangout would need to be projected while the teacher can still be in front of the camera. I hope that sessions recorded on through Google Hangout can be saved as private, link only YouTube videos. This is an option for normal videos uploaded. I think they would be a valuable resource to have, but probably not something the district would want to be public.

Ok. This is more than a skeletal outline of projected events. I am confident that this has potential to get more parents involved in our technology trainings.

About Lisa Butler

Middle school geography teacher, tech trainer, Flocabulary MC, Nearpod PioNear, and Edcamp Hershey Founder. I have embraced the power of purposeful technology and am creative with their application. If I am not doing something with ed or tech, I am probably reading children's books, baking with a toddler sidekick, running around, or dreaming of traveling.
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5 Responses to EdCampHome inspired ParentCamp

  1. Lisa,
    ParentCamp sounds very exciting! A couple thoughts to share based on your ideas above:
    – First, I’d suggest recruiting some co-organizers. There is simply so much to take care of with so many variables to consider that a core team of organizers to plan and then facilitate is a necessity. While edcampHOME was David and Karl’s initial idea, Kelly and I happened to converse with them on the same night about it through Twitter, we each offered our assistance in whatever way we could, and the mix simply felt right so that invited us on as full organizers.
    – Parents, as your primary “client” for this, would certainly need some pre-training on how to participate while also needing a Google+ account. While we tried to provide this for teachers in preparation for the day-of, it always seems like there is more to be done in terms of pre-teaching.
    – GHO’s saved to YouTube automatically save according to whatever default settings that account holder has in place. The videos save to the account of the person starting the GHO, so you will have them scattered across accounts. Prepping your GHO technical facilitators with what you hope to have videos saved as will need to be part of the preparation, or at least asking that they then modify in the Video Manager the settings afterward. We plan to have each moderator assign their video as a Creative Commons video so that we can then save it to one central account for archiving purposes.
    So many other thoughts and so many details to make this work, but I love the idea, that our effort, inspired by so many others’ efforts, thus inspired your effort. Best wishes! Feel free to throw any questions our way as needed!

    • Lisa Butler says:

      Thanks for all the great suggestions; your team had the initial vision that inspired mine.

      I work with a great group of teachers. Some have already signed on go help in any way they can, and others don’t know about it yet, but they can always be counted on. It will be a group success, I’m just going to start off wearing the bossy pants.

      I anticipate the parents not completely understanding Google + and Hangouts. For parents that really want to be involved, I see them attending the sessions live. For parents who want to be included in the loop and see what’s going on, I anticipate them watching the YouTube video but maybe not being in the Hangout (though it will be an option for some parents). No offense, the signing up on a Google Doc was the most overwhelming portion. For ours, I just was to push out the link to join. Many of them have been in video conferences for work, so the Hangout will not be such a strange experience once they get in. I also will train our tech club students about Google + and Hangouts ahead of time so they can monitor and help with a virtual help desk. They love being involved.

      The feedback about how GHO are saved is important. Thank you. That was on my to do list to figure out. Based on your answer, I think it can work out exactly as I hoped, or at least as perfectly as technology does.

  2. Lisa,
    No offense taken. We anticipated there might be issues with the gdoc sign-up sheet, but basically hoped we’d get through. We’ve already some ideas to not log jam the doc next round. I just created a video for moderators to adjust settings to be publicly viewable and Creative Commons: http://youtu.be/dOwnj0-TDVY (for whatever it’s worth in helping you.) Best wishes! It’s a great initiative!

  3. Pingback: How ISTE 2013 Made Me a Technology Ambassador | ISTE Conference

  4. Noah Nguyen says:

    Private videos will be skipped if viewers don’t have access, but playlist notes are publicly visible.

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