Get ready for NJ/NY Jedcamp, everything you love about a conference without the conference!

I have a confession to make. I am writing this blog post during the Super Bowl. Don't worry. I'm not missing anything important. I'm stopping to watch the commercials.

The Super Bowl has become a communal event. The actual football game has almost become less important than the experience watching it. Even if you don't really follow or care for football (I used to be a fan until my wife asked me to choose one sport when we got married and I chose the Yankees) you almost feel less American unless you watch a little of this game. So what if one year we all came together as a country to watch the commercials, put on our parties, share with our friends on our social networks, everything except the actual football game. That is what Jedcamp is.

Jedcamp is everything we enjoy about a conference, the networking conversations in the hallways, the sharing of our latest experiences in the classroom with our friends and colleagues from the real world and from the Twitter universe. In short, it is everything we love about a conference except the actual conference. There are no keynote speakers at Jedcamp. No preplanned, organized presentations at all. If you want to make a presentation or just get together to discuss a topic, you hang up a sign and schedule it that day. If you don't like the room you're in, you get up and go to the next one. Or just stay in the hallway.

I know you might be skeptical. When my good friend, Aaron Ross, first broached the idea of organizing a Jedcamp in NJ/NY, I was too. I very much enjoy conferences. Often I gain a great deal from the presenters, maybe not from the keynotes, but the other more specialized presentations are often quite good. Right now, you might be reading this from just such a conference, the North American Jewish Day School Conference, which I cannot be at in person this year but am closely following virtually on Twitter. I find the ISTE conference which takes place every June to be an indispensable part of my own professional growth.

But then I started thinking. Why do I love conferences? Mostly because of the people I meet. I don't think ISTE would be so integral to my professional development if it weren't for the Avi Chai Foundation dinners that I had the privilege to participate in the past two years to reflect and share my experiences during the day. It was this time which was most valuable for me.

I started thinking about all the people who have reached out to me and who I have reached out to in the recent past to ask about different aspects of educational practice. Often I do not really get the chance to speak to them despite my best of intentions. I am just too busy in my own school and family life. Personally, I am the midst of a one-to-one iPad pilot with my 9th graders at Frisch. I would love to bounce off ideas with others who are in the midst of a similar one-to-one rollout. But once again. I am usually too busy to fit this into my regular schedule. Therefore, a day devoted to these types of experiences would be quite valuable for me.

I also researched the Edcamp model and how it was implemented in other places. You can read the Edcamp wiki here. Because this model is so open ended, it is relatively easy to franchise. One can have an Edcamp or, in this case, a Jedcamp anywhere with relatively little planning and funds when compared to an actual full blown conference. The recent highly successful Jedcamp in South Florida run by my Twitter friends, Meir Wexler and Seth Dimbert, was the final inspiration for me. You can watch the video they produced below.



JEDcamp: What, Why and How? from MisterD on Vimeo.

So here we are. We are pleased to announce our NJ/NY Jedcamp which will take place on April 21 at Yavneh Academy in Paramus NJ. You can register for this event using the following link: http://jedcampnjny.eventbrite.com. Please share this with your friends, colleagues and members of your social network!!!

I would like to thank my friend and colleague Aaron Ross, Assistant Principal at Yavneh Academy- co-chair of this event, who has been the driving force behind organizing this Jedcamp, and the rest of our Jedcamp committee:

  • Michael Bitton - Director of Educational Technology at Magen David Yeshiva High School in Brooklyn
  • Yehuda Chanales - Rebbe and educational technologist at TABC in Teaneck
  • Dov Emerson - Assistant Principal at DRS Boys high school in Woodmere
  • Shira Leibowitz - Principal of Solomon Schechter in Westchester, head of YU 2.0, and the person who got the idea of this Jedcamp moving in the first place
  • Chani Lichtiger - Director of Educational Technology at Yavneh Academy in Paramus
  • Tikvah Wiener - English Department Chair and head of the Real School program at Frisch in Paramus
Check back on this blog and Aaron Ross' blog, http://jewishedd.blogspot.com/, for regular updates about this event. I am looking forward to seeing you at Jedcamp!