Jedcamp on a Roll

September 9, 2014

Source: Thinking about Chinuch


Recently, Rabbi Dr. Aaron Ross of Yavneh Academy wrote a blogpost telling about the new type of Jewish Education Unconference for Jewish educators as it has evolved since its inception in late 2012 until today. " Back in late 2012, a number of educators in South Florida organized the first ever Jedcamp, or Jewish Edcamp. Playing off of the still-young-but-gaining-steam "unconference" model of Edcamp, these educators decided that a similar model could be employed for Jewish educators. The rationale was simple and twofold: First, almost all Edcamps took place on Saturday, thus precluding observant Jews from attending, and, second, that there are many issues unique to the Jewish educational community that rarely get discussed among educators from different schools and different branches of that community (day schools, supplementary schools, community schools, federations, etc.).


The initial results were excellent. Over forty people came out for a day of fruitful and dynamic discussion on a wide range of topics, both tech-based and non-techie. But the true success of the first Jedcamp was that it led to the second one, in New Jersey in April 2013. Like the one in Florida, the New Jersey Jedcamp brought together a wide range of educators for a full day of meeting, greeting, brainstorming, and envisioning. One member of the Florida planning team came north, and a future Jedcamp planner from the West Coast made the cross-country trek to see just how much potential this new model had. A small start, but a solid one.


During the 2013-2014 academic year, the Jedcamp model gained a little more traction. South Florida held a second Jedcamp. San Francisco held two. Chicago had their first. In New York and New Jersey, two full day Jedcamps were held in addition to two shorter (but very well attended) nighttime events. In all, several hundred Jewish educators attended Jedcamps last year, experiencing the power of professional development that was based on collaborating with inspiring and devoted colleagues, not simply listening to well-paid gurus sharing the current trend in education.


The 2014-2015 academic year has barely begun, and already Jedcamp is in full swing across the continent. JedcampBoston and JedcampLA took place this past Sunday. South Florida is back with another Jedcamp this coming Sunday. Chicago gets back into the game on October 19th and Toronto takes place a week later on the 26th - the first Jedcamp outside of the United States. Plans are being made for a Jedcamp in Brooklyn, NY in early November and one in Northern New Jersey in the spring. The Jedcamp model has begun attracting attention from several other communities, including Mexico City! Like Edcamp before it, the second full year of Jedcamp is poised to have more events after a few months than it had in its entire first year.


At the same time, Jedcamp has achieved some notable successes beyond its mere existence. To some extent, Jedcamp grew out of social media communities such as #jedchat on Twitter and Jedlab on Facebook, and the conversations at Jedcamps have often started in cyberspace, continued live at the events, and then gained further steam back in cyberspace. Real connections and relationships among distant "colleagues" have been formed and strengthen through Jedcamps, as educators from far-flung parts of one region, or even from different regions of the country have come together to share their thoughts and concerns. Topics that rarely get discussed in more formal professional development sessions are given plenty of airtime due to the "bottom-up" nature of the Jedcamp model."


Read the entire post at Thinking about Chinuch.


Last week Peter Eckstein wrote up the second South Florida Jedcamp here.


For more information and a film clip about Jedcamps have a look here.

Updated: Sep. 29, 2014