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#HackEd14: It’s about the conversations

By Ashley Hurley 7/1/2014 Professional learning

Even if it meant showing up at the Georgia World Congress Center after getting less than three hours of sleep (which is exactly what happened), there was no way I was going to miss HackEd14. The chance to hack my learning — to adapt, listen, grow and share by connecting face to face with my PLN — was way too important to miss.

I love unconferences. They are one of the best forms of professional and personal development because they are organic, based on the learners’ needs and wants, and built in the moment by the people who attend. No agendas. No hierarchy. Just genuine sharing and connecting, all in the name of learning together, improving and paying it forward — adding more kindling to our education fires to keep our passion for learning and teaching burning bright and strong.

With two past edcamp/unconference experiences under my belt (edcampSC and edcampELON ), I was curious to see how HackEd would compare. It did not disappoint. If you didn't get to attend, here is what you missed:

Educators joined forces to hack education at the HackEd 2014 unconference.The brainstorm

HackEd attendees brainstormed with paper and crayons. I was intrigued: What would my colleagues want to learn and share about? We began by brainstorming topics on big chart paper with crayons. It didn’t take long to see that the theme for our day would be connected to meaningful learning experiences. Every session offered something that I would be able to use for my own learning, but also transfer and use to empower others. And that’s what the learning and sharing processes, to me, are all about: engagement, transference and empowerment.

The sessions

Deciding which groups to join wasn’t easy, but thanks to the "two-feet" unconference norm, if I wasn’t getting what I needed in one place, I could let my two feet to take me to another spot. There’s nothing like being able to own my learning.

Design thinking, project-based learning, PLNs, SLNs (student learning networks), the Common Core — the ideas, knowledge and experiences we shared in our learning spaces were powerful. Just take a look at this schedule:

schedule

The smackdown

A definite highlight of my day was our midday smackdown. The wisdom of the crowd was — and is — remarkable.

Check out my Pinterest board of all the new things I learned.

#HackEd14

The takeaways

As the day drew to a close, I asked Barbara Bray, a creative learning strategist and co-founder of Personalize Learning, LLC, and Audrey Watters, a HackEd co-founder and blogger, to share their HackEd14 takeaways with me. Hear them share their thinking via Voxer by clicking on their names.

My takeaways?

To take the challenge put forth by Moss Pike during the design thinking session: Turn a problem into an opportunity and talk to others about it at ISTE to get ideas and form new questions that connect to my "opportunity."

To continue to reflect upon and honor the power of PLN connectedness and how it ignites us and our learning.
To honor all tools, even if I don’t use them personally.
The point is to get — and stay — connected and to support and empower others as they take steps to do the same.

When we connect, we converse. And it’s all about the conversations.

Ashley Hurley is a professional development specialist for secondary literacy, a member of the Achieve EQuIP Peer Review Panel and co-creator of #cmsk12chat. Connect with her on Twitter via @ashleyhhurley.

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