So you want to start a new Edcamp …

Planning Edcamp HersheyNormally I blog more during the summer. This summer many of my waking hours (and some of my sleeping ones too) have been consumed with planning Edcamp Hershey. I was on the planning committee for Edcamp Harrisburg for two years, so I thought how challenging could it be to form a new one? It was a completely different experience.

Edcamp Hershey is BornEdcamp Hershey was inspired by a passing comment at Edcamp Harrisburg between two other Hershey Middle School teachers and I. The next month the Edcamp Foundation was a guest on #satchat, and it got me seriously thinking about creating a new Edcamp. Two nights of insomnia later, we had a website, a logo, a Twitter account, a gmail account, and our planning team had grown to seven people. I have found that we dream big, which is fine, as long as we are willing to compromise to meet reality.

Screen Shot 2015-07-25 at 1.24.36 PMI used Mindomo to create a concept map to figure out what we had to do/decide as a new Edcamp. The screenshot is impossible to read, but it links to the full version. There are four large areas of consideration: the team, the brand, the money, and the sponsors.

The one area I think a new edcamp needs to be the most thoughtful with is the brand. This was also my favorite to create. While I got feedback from the team, I created all of it. I blame/give credit to the random insomnia I have. Remember if something is on the web it must be true (kinda kidding!). So a good place to start with branding is online presence, we started with a website, a Twitter account, and an email address. I used Weebly to easily create the website for our educational event. As a team we debated buying the domain name, but for the first year we were satisfied with No one seemed to be confused or overly taxed by having to type the .weebly part. There were many pages that initially looked empty. We had a skeleton of a schedule, but we did embed the Google Spreadsheet that was filled in on the day of. People also requested a link to the Schedule on the day of because the embed wasn’t displaying fully. I also hid each column as the time finished so the first column was the current session. You want a space to Thank Sponsors and tell them how to contact you if they are interested in becoming a sponsor. Our space holder for this page: “We will be extremely grateful to sponsors… once we have some. If you are interested in being a sponsor email us.” It was overwhelming how many companies and groups contacted us about being a sponsor.

Twitter_logo_blueFor Twitter I was not overly creative; the account is @EdcampHershey. The same lack of creativity was used for the gmail account, which was necessary to create a Twitter Account and later an Eventbrite account. It also made communicating with attendees and sponsors so much easier by having a central hub. A few of us checked the email on a regular basis and responded. We made sure to always include our names so they knew which of the planners they talked to. Only one person expressed confusion that she emailed twice and got two different responses. Next year it would make sense to use a tagging system, so when one person responds, they tag the email with their name. A chain of emails would show up almost dedicated to the original responder.

Edcamp Hershey Logo OptionsThe logo is where things got creative. I had a middle of the night version of the logo, but I did not love it. It was cute and Hersheyish, but I knew it would not print well. It also was too far from the Edcamp norm. Yes, there are style guidelines on the edcamp wiki for people to use when creating their event logo. For logo attempt #2, our team voted on the font color for the word HERSHEY. The majority went with brown, so our logo was born. It was easy to update the website with the group approved logo. Considerations for your logo: create it in a program that will allow you to save it as a vector file (.ai, .eps, or .pdf). It needs to be high resolution so it will print well. If you are going to have anything printed, you pay per color, so a bright and colorful logo might look good, but it won’t feel as good when you see the cost to print it on shirts. The logo is also necessary when you create an invoice. If colleges/universities or some companies donate money, they need an invoice. It was easy to find a template to customize; Google Docs provides lots of options.

Social MediaThe hashtag was an area I was a bit of a rebel in. I know traditionally the hashtag formula for edcamps is #edcampHershey, but that would be 13 characters. I much shorter and catchier hashtag was #sweetpd. All of us were active on Twitter leading up to Edcamp with lots of #sweetpd references.  It caught on quickly beforehand. On the day of, announcing the official hashtag was part of our opening, so no one was unaware of it. I loved using Canva to create Twitter perfect images to Tweet out throughout the day, like the one for the Hashtag.

How you communicate with attendees is also part of your image/brand. We used Eventbrite because you can set up free events and easily email people who register. We sent occasional emails so people did not forget about us. In the couple weeks leading up to edcamp, we had many more details since we knew the majority of our attendees were edcamp newbies and we wanted to allay their concerns. The actual Eventbrite page is something we want to improve for next year. It did not have enough information or communication. We could have sold shirts through Eventbrite instead of dealing with cash on the day of. There could have been a link to the attendee survey. There are a lot of ‘could haves.’ I like the way Edcamp Baltimore has their event set up. Another communication option would be Remind, since people are almost programmed to check their phone when they hear the ding of a text message.

If you have any questions, I love helping. Seriously, reach out on Twitter (@SrtaLisa) or through a blog comment. Happy edcamping!

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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