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Edcamp Delta marks a new way to hold conference

Students, parents, administrators and teachers are invited to the first Edcamp Delta next weekend. Taking place on Saturday, Jan.

Students, parents, administrators and teachers are invited to the first Edcamp Delta next weekend.

Taking place on Saturday, Jan. 14 at Delta Secondary in Ladner, the Edcamp will be a chance for educators to gather ideas about how to improve their teaching in an environment less formal than a conference.

"The whole idea is that it's participant-driven. It's unlike conferences we usually go to, where there's a set schedule and keynote speakers and certain presenters," said Jonathan Kung, one of the organizers.

Kung, a teacher at Delview Secondary in North Delta, noted a website has been set up where ideas for topics can be posted and in the first hour of Edcamp participants will vote on those they'd like to discuss. Various sessions will then take place throughout the day.

Teachers and educators will have a chance to bring their own ideas that don't have to be refined by that point. It gives them an opportunity to gather feedback, suggestions or connections they should know about in order to develop their ideas.

Local organizers note the Edcamp model originated less than two years ago with Edcamp Philly. Since that time, the model has gained popularity and events have been held throughout the United States and Canada.

Edcamp Vancouver took place in April 2011 with approximately 90 participants coming from all over the Lower Mainland, Okanagan, Toronto, Las Vegas and Washington. The momentum from that event led to proposed Edcamp events elsewhere in Canada.

"When I went to the Vancouver one I had no idea and no expectations because I didn't know what Edcamp was, but when I got there I realized right away that this was very different. I really got to pick what I wanted to talk about all day long and made lots of contacts," said Kung.

Twitter is a popular tool for those taking part in a discussion in one room at an Edcamp to get a sense of what's going on in a discussion in another room, he said, adding everything is eventually posted on the Internet.

"In the end, we've got teachers who come away with a lot of contacts and a lot of refinements to the projects they're working on, and some great ideas to start upon," Kung said.

Some of the ideas that could be discussed at the upcoming Edcamp include new models of grading as well as project-based learning, which includes more hands-on activities and the use of social media.

"Organized by a group of leaders that includes teachers, administrators, educational assistants and parents, the purpose of Edcamp Delta is to put creative, innovative and dedicated people together to share ideas on improving teaching and educational practices," say the organizers.

The event is free. For more information on Edcamp Delta, visit the website at edcamp.deltasd. or contact Kung at