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November 15, 2009

Things I learned at my first Barcamp

by fambrojoe

A little more than a week ago I attended my first Barcamp.  Prior to the event I was filled with anticipation because I had heard from others how much they learned from and enjoyed the “unconference” venue.  Additionally, the rules of the event require those in attendance to be participants (not just spectators), usually by giving a presentation.  While I am used to giving presentations, I was anxious to present in an environment where I had no context of the type or topic of presentations.  Looking back now, I can say that my experience at BarcampSeou4 was very positive.

A few things that I learned about Barcamps:

  1. The Right People – The people who show up to a particular barcamp ARE the right people.  There really are no “wrong” people at a barcamp.  BarcampSeoul4 was the first international barcamp in Korea.  The people in attendance had very different backgrounds.  Some were from Korea, but many countries were represented.  Some were from a business background, other were from K-12 education and others from higher education.  It was exhilarating to interact and share with people from very diverse backgrounds.
  2. No Expectations – One of the most powerful parts of a barcamp is that you do not arrive with specific expectations because you have no idea of the topics that will be presented until you arrive and set the schedule for the day.
  3. Bring an Inquiring Mind – When you put people from various backgrounds into a room and they begin to present on topics that they are passionate about, you can’t help but have rich discussion.  Be prepared to ask questions, connect the experiences and ideas of other people with your own experiences, and to learn.

A few things that I took away from BarcampSeoul4:

  1. As an educator in a K-12 school, I often think about preparing students for university.  However, I rarely interact with university educators.  At BarcampSeoul4 a large portion of those in attendance were university professors.  Listening to their presentations and interacting with them made me think about how much K-12 schools need to spend time on university campuses and research current trends in higher education.
  2. Virtualization is here to stay.  The physical world is something we are familiar with and comfortable with… however, the cross-over between the physical and the virtual worlds and the ways the virtual world will be governed are very interesting topics.  As much as many educators would like to protect students from the virtual world, it is here to stay and students must be able to navigate it successfully.  This presentation was particularly interesting to me: [blip.tv ?posts_id=2839393&dest=-1]
  3. Don’t prepare for your presentation at the last minute…  my presentation was put together early on the morning of the Barcamp.  I wish that argument and presentation would have been much more cohesive, but it wasn’t.  On the other hand, I am tremendously glad that I did present.  The discussion was interesting and I’ve had a number of follow-up conversations with faculty at my school since the barcamp.  Here is my presentation: [blip.tv ?posts_id=2839430&dest=-1]
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