Setting up the sessions on the day of an Edcamp

I talked to Mary Beth Hertz (@mbteach) today over Skype about how she has set up the beginning of the Edcamp sessions she's helped run. I wanted to make sure I understood the process.

Here are some notes from our conversation I took for our reference.

  1. At the beginning of the day, have a schedule set up on the wall.
  2. During a networking session (like breakfast for example) organizers can walk around explaining the schedule and encourage people to sign up for spots.
  3. Have a person sitting next to a table set up next to the schedule. This table should have index cards so that participants can grab a card and create a session proposal.
  4. Make sure that this process starts at least an hour before the sessions begin. This way you will have time to both complete the process.
  5. Participants should come to the day with an expectation to share something, and come prepared to present. Not everyone will get to present, but often participants will find common ground and co-present (sometimes with people they just met!) on a topic.
  6. Sessions might fill up during the day, so don't sweat it if the schedule isn't completely full in the morning. People might lack confidence at the beginning but when they see how laid back the sessions can be, they may be more willing to present.
  7. Send announcements made via Twitter.
  8. Have a Google Spreadsheet with sessions embedded in website, and have one organizer updating the spreadsheet during the day. This way people who are not present (yet) will be able to see what's going on.
  9. Be flexible (I added this one myself, but it was implied in our conversation).

Additional notes:

A session is only dead if no one at all shows up. Even one other participant in a session means you've increased an idea's reach by 100%.

The more sessions you have, the more trouble ensuring that each session has some participants so aim for a smaller number of sessions.

The attrition rate for unconferences is high. Many people (20% at Edcamp Phillie) will sign up and not show up, so include this in your plan for the day.

The first Edcamp Phillie didn't have live video streaming, but they are hoping to have a live streaming room for the next conference. I pointed out that this will only be useful if any visuals the presenters are using are actually visible in the live stream.


For more detailed information on the ins and outs of running an Edcamp, check out Mary Beth's excellent series on Edutopia.

  1. Introduction to Edcamp: A New Conference Model Built on Collaboration
  2. Planning an edcamp Unconference: Taking Care of the "Big Stuff"
  3. Financing an edcamp
  4. Planning an edcamp Unconference: Doing All of the Little Things



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