Monday, October 21, 2013

The Impact of #Edscape

This past Saturday (10/19) marked the fourth annual Edscape Conference held at New Milford High School in NJ.  The idea for this event evolved from a dire need to fill a void in the type of innovative learning experiences that educators were craving.  As a result, a partnership between Teq and New Milford HS was formed to provide a cost-effective, meaningful learning experience for attendees.   Attendees could take ideas and strategies presented during hour long sessions and implement them immediately upon return to their schools and districts.  Each year hundreds of educators from across the country descend upon my school to take part in Edscape in what I hope will be one of the best learning experiences of their year.  I realize this is a lofty goal, but if I am to ask fellow colleagues, educators, and friends to give up time with their families on a Saturday and travel great distances then I had better be able to deliver. Based upon early feedback it seems like we did.

One of the tenants of the Edscape Conference is the focus on the work of practitioners. The selection of the keynote, as well as the majority of the sessions, places an emphasis on innovative work taking place in schools across the country and beyond. It is my feeling that in a time when the national rhetoric is quite negative towards education, nothing is more inspiring and uplifting than focusing on the innovative and impactful work being done by passionate educators.  My only regret with Edscape is that I did not get to sit in on any sessions or engage attendees in as many conversations that I would have liked.  I guess this comes with the territory when hosting a conference at your school.  However, I have been digesting feedback that I have received either through email, in person, or the #Edscape hashtag and would just like to point out a few highlights from the event.  Below are some identifiable characteristics that I believe portray the success and impact of Edscape:

  • NMHS Students – I could not have been more proud of my students and how they represented my school.  Attendee after attendee commented how helpful, respectful, and enthusiastic they were.   Next year I will look for even more ways to get my students involved with Edscape.
  • The Learning – Edscape is all about professional learning.  This occurred during sessions, over conversations in lunch, in the hallways between sessions, and afterwards at the networking reception held at Jersey Boys Grill.  Each session focused on applicable takeaways that educators could implement upon their return to their schools. What was even more powerful though was the learning that took place during conversations on professional practice and through the connections that were made throughout the day. Many attendees expressed the need to a two-day conference going forward as there were too many quality sessions that they wanted to attend. You can check out all of the sessions that were offered HERE.
  • Facility – I love my school building and numerous attendees echoed this. The original building where the majority of the sessions were held was built in 1928 and you can see that from the architecture.  We continue to work on transforming learning spaces with the money that we have. At NMHS we had adequate technology available, charging stations that our students regularly use, and superior WiFi (ask any attendee).  At our max we had over 650 devices connected to the open WiFi and not one issue. There were so many complimentary comments about the charging stations, WiFi, grounds, mission statements visible in classrooms, student work displayed on walls, and the larger television that streams announcements when you enter the school.  I feel a school is the best place to engage educators in professional learning.
  • Attendees – There were close to 400 educators from 11 different states (NJ, RI, NY, CT, PA, MD, AR, MO, OH, VA, TX) as well as Canada. Numerous stakeholder groups were represented such as teachers, assistant principals, principals, curriculum directors, assistant superintendents, board of education members, parents, and members of the NJ Department of Education.  I am humbled by the fact that so many attendees and presenters traveled great distances to be at Edscape.  What was even rewarding was seeing everyone learning side by side to improve their practices and move the profession forward.
  • Global Impact – The keynote by George Couros as well as the Connected Educator panel was streamed live by Teachercast and viewed by over 500 people worldwide.  If you have not viewed his keynote you can see a recording of it HERE.  The #Edscape hashtag was trending #1 throughout the day on Twitter.  

Edscape has and always will be a labor of love for me.  The excitement, passion, and innovative work I witness each year are the catalysts needed for change in my opinion.  Edscape is not a revolutionary event in itself.  It is the ideas and strategies that educators take with them from the event and eventually implement that have the capacity to be revolutionary.  On a side note I can’t thank George Couros enough for delivering a keynote that made attendees, laugh, cry, and think.  Spending time with him at the Jets game yesterday and introducing him to tailgating was an added bonus. 

Lastly, thanks to all of YOU that inspire me each day to put on Edscape. On that note I would love to hear what your major takeaways were from the event this past Saturday.  What did we do right and what can we improve? Feel free to leave a link to your Edscape reflection in the comments if you have or plan to write one.  Planning for Edscape 2014 for next October is now under way so mark your calendars for Saturday 10/18/14.  We will soon be setting a date and then select a keynote (suggestions appreciated).  The call for proposals will go out in the spring so stay tuned. If you have any leads on sponsors for next year feel free to secure them on my behalf or send me an email. 

Be the change that you wish to see in education!


  1. Rock on, Eric. This was a fantastic day. I hope to show my fellow Superintendents the value of such a collaborative effort as well as its' educational impact. I can't wait for EdScape '14!

  2. Eric,
    Although I was unable to attend in person this year, I may make the pilgrimage to NMHS next year. I was able to participate or view three sessions (#satchat, George's keynote, and Google hangouts) during the day. I followed the #edscape hashtag during the day and have checked back over the last couple of days. It sure seems like a great way to learn and grow as an educator.
    Even though I didn't attend in person, I do have a couple of takeaways to share. Broadcasting both #satchat and George's keynote made me feel like I was there even though I was in my kitchen in Wisconsin. Participating in the Google hangout session was an exciting way to share some of our school's uses of Google hangouts and the great things our teachers do to connect with others outside of Merton. Finally, one slide in George's keynote inspired me to write this blog about how we are all models for our students and each other (
    I wish you continued success with edscape in the future and hope to be able to attend next year in person.

  3. If you can make it on a Sunday instead, there are many educators in your backyard who would be more than happy to join.

  4. Eric, Thanks again for a great day of learning and connecting. Here are my takeaways:

  5. I was very impressed with the sessions I attended. The presenters were excellent--so knowledgeable! Your students were helpful and gracious! I have attended each year and this was the best! George Couros was a wonderful key note speaker. It was very inspiring to hear his message about the importance of connections!
    Dorothy Fox

  6. Thank you Eric for putting on a great event! So many people had the opportunity to learn from where they were at, as opposed to being told where they needed to be. Always a great indication of a phenomenal conference!

    It was totally a "FIRST DOWN!". Thank you for a great weekend my friend :)

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  8. Eric - Thanks for a great event. It was great to share my work/story with the amazing educators at #edscape. Here are some of my takeaways:

    1) Yes, Social Media accelerates learning, but great leaders create conditions & norms focused on growth. Must also focus on Mindsets.

    2) We have to re-think how we lead change by building capacity for learning and autonomy. Ask - Can we increase in our Change Bandwidth.

    3) It's not about tech. Consider Social capital 2.0 (resources embedded in networks) Must find ways to leverage this and cultivate intelligence of the organization.

    Thanks again! Look forward to next year.


  9. Three important take a ways from Edscape 2013 - First as a past attendee it was an equally remarkable experience to participate now as a presenter. Second if anyone should question the resolve of teachers today to seek improvements to their profession they need to attend an Edscape Conference. Third how proud I am to be part of the NMHS faculty where innovation is not a buzz word but a mindset.

  10. Eric, I also followed #edscape as I wasn't able to attend. I hadn't even heard of edscape before. I just connected in the last year and it's been the best thing I've ever done professionally. Thanks for providing such an awesome conference. My wife is also newly connected educator and we're hoping to make the trip next year. There are barely any connected educators in WV, but through connections like you I hope to foster some much needed changes soon.

  11. Eric, thank you again to you and your staff and students for such a wonderful event. I think the biggest takeaway for me was a reinforcement that learning is about making connections and building relationships. Technology is important only in that it's a way to make those things happen so much more effectively. In all the sessions I attended and the conversations I was part of, the focus was learning and connecting. The technology was just what got us there.

    You mentioned wanting to get your students even more involved next year. I would love to see a session or panel discussion that includes some of your students along with their teachers talking about how they do things in the classroom and what having the right tools means to them. That would be really powerful.