This past weekend I had an amazing opportunity to participate in "Digi-Camp" for Teachers through the University of Akron! After getting home from camp and reminiscing a lot about all of the learning that took place, I decided to think through how this "digital camp" was like going to a real camp...the following analysis ensued...
Campers always begin with their camp checklist in mind. One of the useful tools that the conference planners used was "Guide Book". This digital guide available through the internet and fully downloadable to a smartphone was extremely helpful. Guidebook contained the schedule, maps, links to counselors, general info as well as quick links to Twitter and Facebook. The guide book helped me to "gear up" for the camp! The camp registration helpers (Tyler and Zach) were so friendly and laid back-they really made the campers feel welcome!
Campers set up in the home base at the Honors College on the University of Akron Campus, which I must say burst forth with style, color and connectivity. One of the first activities I participated in during the opening hours of camp was an all-campus scavenger hunt using the app Scavenger Hunt with Friends. It was fun because we had to take pictures of items generated on the list and upload them for points. I came in 19th out of 100 or so people. The group I was with hustled around campus and kept us moving at just the right pace (Thanks Lauren and Yu Ling)! We were also involved in helping Jim and Jon use the Vid Rhythm app and make a video about camp! It was funny! My 5 minutes of fame were up after this video was shared with the camp and my line "Akron" was repeatedly embarassing. :)
Surprise! ("wait for it...") Camp always allows for those surprising moments when someone or something happens that is completely unexpected-our surprise was having former Coach Jim Tressel speak during the Saturday morning breakfast. He talked about the importance of digital technology interwoven with the art of life. He gently reminded us, "In the technology boom, don't lose the melody of educating young people"...
During camp, there were many opportunties to hear stories, find treats, and gather advice. One of the opportunties for treats came my way, when I scanned one of the digital QR codes-and found out that I was eligible to win a bag of books if I submitted an idea for "How to use technology to enhance literacy instruction?"-my idea was to have students use blogs to review books through blogs-kind of like Reading Rainbow used to do...LUCKY ME, I WON THE BAG OF BOOKS! I also now think I would use either screencasts or podcasts and generate QR codes to include with the books reviewed so students could use a QR reader and scan to hear the review of the book. There were also other times when the QR codes were scanned and gave information about links for learning via "Prezi", "Glogster" or "Voki"...Ted Talks (TedED), videos on how to integrate iPads in the classroom etc. I could go on for days about how QR blasts can create opportunities for learning but I will stop...another post for another day. Also, I have to add learning how to podcast or screencast using Screencastomatic (very easy, check out my first attempt HERE).
|QR Code "Quick Response"|
Another great part of camp was the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas with other teachers. I learned a great deal from hearing other happy campers share their thoughts and revelations as we worked on group projects that were presented to all the campers (in the final show, if you will). All of the campers were sharing thoughts and ideas regularly as part of the learning and working sessions. The counselors made themselves available for questions and help as needed. They helped many of us to experience and learn more about Twitter and tweets, which was music to our digital ears! A million thank yous to our great counselor staff!
Finally, packing up all our tech gear after learning from each other brought moments of tears, laughter and joy! The lead organizer of our camp, Lori Vargo, pleasantly approached the entire weekend with great patience and a smile. Her effort in organizing this outstanding learning opportunity is greatly appreciated by all who participated, especially me! Thanks Lori for all you did!
What a camp! I learned so much, now it's going to be taking it all into practice that will be the work ahead. My digital spark is ignited, the flames are burning brightly and I wonder where we'll go from here?