Yes, and! EdCamp Design Thinking

On October 5, the first ever EdCamp Design Thinking happened at Bitmakers Lab in Toronto, Ontario. This was an opportunity for a group of educators, designers, entrepreneurs and learners to talk about “how might design thinking impact the future of education?” The day was rooted in participant-driven conversation, framed on design thinking with a distinct focus on taking questions to action.


In 2009, EdCamps were born out of the movement to “take back PD” in Philadelphia by a group of educators who were frustrated with mandated professional development and wanted to connect with educators to talk about what mattered to them. By their very nature of being an unconference, EdCamps are a platform for vibrant conversation and generate boatloads of inspiration and enthusiasm for the face-to-face participants and the ones following in the Twitter back channel. EdCamp Design Thinking was no different and intentionally gave participants a bias towards action. As the organizing committee, we wanted to balance the space for participants to lead conversation and to demonstrate a bit of the design thinking process. Participants were taken through “The Six Phases of Design Thinking” from the Henry Ford Learning Institute and the “Design Thinking Oreo Cookie” exercise from Exhibit Change to get a taste of what design thinking is about. This set up participants for the conversations that followed.


To build energy and a sense of what people were already talked about, the group was led through World Café. World Café is designed to encourage the kinds of conversations we have at cafes; the ones that we can’t pull ourselves away from and are fueled by caffeine and passion. In World Café participants moved to another table to connect with new people, all together everyone would have talked to 7 new people within 40 minutes and together are revealing the themes and patterns within the room. World Café is a tool to leverage the conversation that is happening now; the same group of people will never be in the same place and same time together again. In World Café, participants explored 2 big questions and then summarized the big ideas.  The questions were open-ended and designed to prompt conversation, participants were in charge of where the conversation went from there.


Following World Café, participants proposed their own session for Open Space. Open space is designed to have participants with something on their mind a time and place to discuss with others who might be thinking something similar. The topics ranged from “How to Assess the Process versus the Product?” to “How to create a culture of risk and failure?” to “How do we engage the Ministry of Education in redesigning EQAO for special education students?” – each question arose from the participants who didn’t know how to tackle these challenges alone and wanted to talk to others.


After a morning of fruitful conversations, the group had Salad Club. Salad Club is a collaborative and participant-driven way to bring lunch together in a beautiful and spontaneous way that can only happen that way once, much like a World Café. Everyone was asked to bring one fruit or vegetable and one protein and together we compiled a lovely salad bar that was suited to all dietary constraints. It is always magical to watch how easily Salad Club can come together and the variety that is created. It is really a wonderful metaphor for trusting people to bring what they can to fuel others; we are more together than we are apart.

The afternoon began with an energizer called “Yes, and!” This activity is meant to generate a positive ideas environment. We are so used to hearing someone’s idea and then saying, “yes, but…” “Yes, and!” let’s everyone feel like they are contributing, like their ideas are actually being heard and eliminates the feeling that one idea is the solution. This activity led us into the afternoon of more Open Space conversations.


I left the day feeling like a lot of seeds had been planted for deeper discussion. For some people this was their first EdCamp or their first introduction to design thinking and in some cases both, so I anticipate that it was a lot to digest. EdCamp Design Thinking was a taster of what design thinking could be like in education and I hope that after a bit of time to reflect that the ones eager for their next taste will reach out to see what’s next in their journey.The group was a little slow to pick up on ideas, many excited to carry on conversations that started in the morning and a few that wanted time to connect around new ideas. The afternoon passed quickly with some more action-oriented discussion of how might we apply design thinking in schools, education, for our own practice and learn from places where it is already happening. We closed the day with a circle and a symbolic simultaneous clap to indicate that we were on the same page.

I imagine that as we keep doing EdCamp Design Thinking that it will take on its own momentum and begin generating the conversations that will propel design thinking to the places that it needs to be.


It is always a delight when the conversation keeps going and other perspectives are shared, you can find a bit more out about the day from these archives of the day.

Tweet Archive of the Day – Storify

Richland Academy – Experiencing Design Thinking Ed Camp

Heidi Siwak – Class 61 begins inquiry world café

Communication, Communication, Yes, and….

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EdCamp Design Thinking is next weekend!!!

The first ever EdCamp Design Thinking is happening on October 5, 2013 at Bitmaker Labs!!! A good EdCamp starts with space. Where you have it effects the flow of conversation, the transition from space to space and the comfort of the attendees. We are so super excited to be at Bitmaker Lab, not only for their innovative work as an education experience as well as their inviting space and culture for supporting the community.

What is an EdCamp? 

It is a free, volunteer run, participant driven unconference. EdCamps emerged after original EdCamp Founders from Philly, attended a BarCamp in November 2009 and the movement was born. Since then, educators across the world are taking back professional development and having face to face meet ups to talk about education on Saturdays! The days are organized around conversations, the content for the agenda is generated by the people who attend and they almost always flow over to the bar.

What is EdCamp Design Thinking? 

It is all the good stuff of an EdCamp plus a focus on design thinking. EdCamps are open model unconference and support hacking and tweaking as necessary. The growing conversation about design thinking online and offline pushed the organizing committee to see what they could do with the question “How might we understand the impact of design thinking on education?” It is evident by the nearly sold out event that there is definitely an overwhelming energy.

What can attendees expect at EdCamp Design Thinking? 

For those who have been to an EdCamp before, attendees can expect to see some old faces, connect with people that they know are like-minded and drive them to think. For those who have never been before, they will be welcomed by all the seasoned attendees and the organizing committee. The day takes a slightly different approach to the EdCamp model with some additional unconference techniques layered with some design thinking terminology. We felt that the best way to build deep conversations was to do what the people are asking for, which is more context around design thinking and the space to talk about where they are at with the mindset and tools. Every one attending comes from a different place in education, whether they be a student, parent, designer, educator, administrator, yoga teacher or general EdCamp enthusiast there is something from absolutely everyone at EdCamp.


There are just a few tickets left, but if you are feeling like you can’t live without this event – show up and we will find space for you! And you can follow along from home in your Pajamas too #EdCampDT or @EdCampDT

EdCamp BootCamp Training | August 21, 2013

edcamp_logoEdCamp is a uniquely powerful movement growing through out education professional development. It is a way to connect to other educators, to other people thinking about what is happening and will be happening in education, to explore your own questions and curiosities.

EdCamp BootCamp is a way to explore the mechanics of the unconference.

This will be a one day training ALL about unconferences and facilitation. Unconferences are participant-driven, the content is created on the spot by the people who are in the room. This training will give an overview of a few different techniques and facilitation methods that can be used for EdCamps. Coming to EdCamp and meeting like-minded people is awesome and being able to facilitate when you get back to your place of work is equally as powerful.

Nathan at EdCamp HK
From EdCamp Hong Kong – a little lesson on how to make coffee before we got going for the day

This training is intended for individuals who have organized or are thinking of organizing an EdCamp in their own community and is looking for some basics on how the facilitation happens. Participants will learn about unconference models, practice unconference techniques and dynamics. Learn strategies of how to design the day, how to facilitate conversations and how to capture what happened to share beyond the day.

Tickets for participation for EdCamp Design Thinking are still open. October 5th, 2013, join educators, learners and designers who will be discussing “How might design thinking impact the future of education?” An opportunity to meet other EdCampers and practice.

*All proceeds/fees from EdCamp Bootcamp will go to funding EdCamp Design Thinking* 

Register for EdCamp Bootcamp – August 21, 2013

To read about other EdCamps:

EdCamp Hong Kong : Reflection Blog from Bad Kids Collective – The Amazing Race 

EdCamp Toronto: Reflections from EdCamp Toronto


EdCamp Hong Kong – “The Amazing Race”

Reblogged from Bad Kids Collective 

Across the ocean from home, EdCamp Hong Kong satisfied a few of my curiosities and fueled a ton more. When I arrived in Hong Kong nearly 4 months ago I didn’t know much about the Hong Kong education system and I had no intention of planning an event, and yet my curiosity got the best of me. I was struck by the number of tutoring companies, art centres, Montessori schools, various universities and colleges; it was clear that education was important. I sent a few tweets out in the world and was quickly connected to Neil and it seems like all the piece just fell into place after that.

Neil is the vice principal at Quarry Bay School and the proud host of the day. I was ecstatic when our conversations of alternative learning spaces landed us in the kindergarten classroom at QBS. The room was the perfect setting for our conversations of curiosity and connection. The room is colourful, has thoughtful signage, pictures of kids on the door, water play table and designated zones for learning, I don’t see why all classrooms and offices for that matter don’t look more like this.

As with any first time event, I always get a tingle when the first few people trickle in, it means our curiosity will bond us. Without failure, this day brought many curious folks who each sparked and shared ideas and questions.

Here are a few of my take aways:
– labels and categorizations of people don’t ever seem to be helpful
– the words that are so important in education are the ones that seem to mess us up the most; success, motivation, assessment, learning, purpose, passion, school…
– whenever we make something standardized, it becomes outdated
– where is the trust in school?
– the connections that matter are the ones that stay with us
– participation and learning doesn’t look a certain way
– culture and context are not secondary in education

My biggest take away was that no matter which side of the ocean we are on, the challenges seem to be the same. There is a lot of work to be done and it will be an uphill battle and where to start is just to keep going. Every one of these conversations leads to another and another and together we will figure out the next step. The race to get to the top, to be the best, to compete for more has long been tied to success, but it is the same race that makes us fall further behind? 

EdCamp Hong Kong was the first EdCamp in Asia, I surely don’t think it will be the last. And I will just need to book my plane tickets accordingly!




EdCamp Design Thinking needs a logo

Having a stand out brand identity is what sets companies apart. You know the Nike swoosh from miles away. They knew that the fake Apple Stores in China were fake because they used text, whereas a real Apple Store doesn’t need to because the logo is so recognizable.

We are looking for a logo.

EdCamp Design Thinking is first of its kind.

Part of the Edcamp movement, a series of education unconferences that are known for “taking back PD for educators”, has been spreading across the world from Philadelphia to Hong Kong and back. EdCamp Design Thinking will be the first EdCamp to focus on how design thinking might affect the classroom and the education system.

The original EdCamp logo was designed by Lorenzo Ibarra, who was a student at Camden County Technical Schools at the time of design, now graduated. The EdCamp apple is now becoming its own icon in the education world.

And in true form to the EdCamp movement, it is completely hack-able. There are recommendations and inspiration from other EdCamps but it is truly open to interpretation and creativity.

Please share the Call for EdCamp Design Thinking Logo  with your networks. Looking forward to seeing all the submissions by May 24th 2013, midnight.

Call for EdCamp Design Thinking Logo_Page_1 Call for EdCamp Design Thinking Logo_Page_2


Launching EdCamp Design Thinking

In 2011, I joined the inaugural EdCamp Toronto organizing committee. In 2012, I instigated EdCamp Hong Kong (the first EdCamp in Asia), participated in starting the harvest team for the second EdCamp Toronto and attended EdCamp Ottawa. Needless to say, I am a fan of the EdCamp movement and have been watching it grow over the years.  So, I was pretty excited when I passed an idea past the co-founders of Dan Callahan and Mike Ritzius to launch a spinoff of the original EdCamp with the addition of design thinking methodologies.

On February 20th, we will be hosting our first meeting and planning EdCamp Design Thinking!!! I am pretty excited 🙂

At the meeting we will be building a model for all future EdCamp Design Thinking, a model to be tested, to be hacked, to be spread. A model that is going to share the the process of problem finding, idea generation, empathy mapping, to design solutions and to pitch. The goal of EdCamp Design Thinking is to promote the 21st century skills: creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication as well as entrepreneurship.

I love the beginning of projects, so much potential! Our planning team currently is made up of designers, educators, innovators and people who are passionate about education.

For more information, check out the EdCamp Design Thinking wiki.

Make it happen,


Come be a part of EdCamp Hong Kong

EdCamp Hong Kong is happening on April 21, 2012!!!! 

EdCamp HK will take place in a kindergarten classroom at a school in Hong Kong. We thought that the playful atmosphere will add to our conversation and welcome joyful new ideas. 

Registration is Open! 

EdCamp Hong Kong is an education unconference that is part of the EdCamp family. EdCamp Hong Kong is the first EdCamp to leave North America!

What are you in for? 

Here are the basic fundamentals: 

(1) The people who come are the best people who could have come.

2) Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.

3) It starts when it starts.

4) It’s over when it’s over.

5) The Law of Two Feet (“If you are not learning or contributing to a talk or presentation or discussion it is your responsibility to find somewhere where you can contribute or learn”). 

If you are interested in having a conversation about the future of education, than this is for you. You want to join because you have something to offer, something to learn or are just plain curious. Education doesn’t stop because we are out of school and it is something we all have opinions about. Come to meet new people, build a network, because you care and  want to be a part of a movement.

Where to have edcampHK?

The first order of business to planning an event, after the initial idea is to find a location. So, I have been asking where we should have edcampHK? There have been a few back and forths on twitter and so far the energy has been swirling already. There were some initial suggestions to have it at Hong Kong University in a study room or an international high school, now the suggestions have switched to some more atypical learning spaces like the beach, a public park, shopping mall or street corner!

As an advocate for alternative learning spaces and styles, I am pretty excited by the idea. In a little while we will put the location to a vote. Stay tuned.

Inspire Yourself!

Let the planning begin!

Thanks to the help of @dancallahan there is a edcamp Hong Kong wikipage set up! This will let everyone in the edcamp community and beyond get in touch if they are looking for ways to get involved.

I have also gotten a few bites through the grapevine of people interested. We have a few options for locations now.  A study room at Hong Kong University or space at an international high school in Hong Kong. Looking for a few more non-typical locations and then we will put it to a vote.

This is happening!


EdCamp Hong Kong?

While I am in Hong Kong, I would like to try organizing an event. EdCamp is a movement for participatory leadership in education reform. EdCamp is done in an unconference model and is meant to ignite conversation. The idea is that, education needs to be talked about. An unconference is lead and driven by the participants, who ever comes are the ones who determine what the learning will be for the day. The questions guide the process and the conversation flows through curiosity, respect for all voices and experiences and a desire to make a change. You get out of it, what you put in.

After being involved in EdCamp Toronto, I love the idea of sharing the experience all the way around the world. I am in Asia for the next 4 months and in Hong Kong off and on. My parents grew up in the Hong Kong education system, my grandmother was a teacher in Hong Kong and I am really curious to know what learning I can bring back home with me.

If you are interested in having a conversation about the future of education, than I am looking for you. You want to join because you have something to offer, something to learn or are just plain curious. Education doesn’t stop because we are out of school and it is something we all have opinions about. Come to meet new people, build a network, because you have something to offer and  want to be a part of a movement.

EdCampHK will happen in April. The location is to be determined, it could be in a cafe, a park, a library or anywhere for that matter.

I look forward to sharing EdCamp Hong Kong with you. Feel free to get in touch!