How did EdcampMagic come about? Well, when you get some educators together who love their jobs, love inspiring and engaging students, love being connected educators, enjoy learning at edcamps, and who also love everthing Disney, you get the seeds for EdcampMagic. They were planted in a Twitter conversation in 2012, as far as we can tell. Then, last year at METC 2014 & ISTE 2014, we (several Missouri educators, fitting since Walt was from Missouri) connected with Howie DiBlasi (who was wearing a nametag with the Disney logo on it). We were all excited with the prospect of holding an edcamp at Walt Disney World.
Timeline synopsis of EdcampMagic 2015 planning GHOs:
July 7, 2014: Our first official meeting was via Google Hangout on July 7, 2014. Lots of ideas were tossed around:
- Is an edcamp at Walt Disney World a viable idea?
- How would we do it?
- When should we do it?
- Would anyone come?
- Are there other educators who are as passionate as we are about Disney who would join us?
- It’s so expensive, how can be make it more economical?
- Would Disney help us out?
- Where could we have it?
- Would we be able to find sponsors?
- If it wasn’t held on Disney property, how would out-of-towners who flew in get around?
The hardest part was finding a venue. Disney would not donate the space. The hotels in the area did not understand that we had NO money. The schools in the area didn’t know who we were or why a bunch of educators from outside the Orlando area (and mostly from Missouri) would want to hold an ‘edcamp’ in their school…and what is an edcamp, again?
August 27, 2014: On August 27 we found a local public school that would allow us to hold EdcampMagic on their campus. They could accommodate up to 200 educators. We sent a survey out via social media to see if there was interest among educators. There was! The room discounts were coming together. The transportation was NOT going to be affordable, but we continued to explore many different options.
September 28, 2014: By September 28, we were pretty much decided on Port Orleans-Riverside and Pop Century for rooms. We began looking for a place for the tweet-up, and we discussed name badges, t-shirts, and dessert party.
October 5, 2014: By October 5, we had closed our registration at 200 and had a wait list, lots of ideas, but NO money. Then, the bottom fell out of our venue. The local public school we were in talks with said they needed to charge us $3,000 to hold our event there. We were devastated. We started calling local schools, again, without any luck.
Then, in true Disney fashion, the storyline improved when Nick Purdue came to the rescue. Nick is the technology coordinator at Windermere Prep. He offered his school as a venue! In addition, we received the backing of ConnectED Learning, a St. Louis non-profit that took us under their wing. This was important because typically edcamps receive support from local businesses. Local companies were not interested in sponsoring an edcamp like EdcampMagic that was pulling participants from all over the country and beyond.
November 15, 2014: Nick joined us for his first EdcampMagic planning committee GHO. At that time, it was decided that we had the room to open registration up to more people. The wifi was stable and could handle 300-400 people easily. We continued to discussed the transportation issue from resort(s) to school (3 buses would cost $1,500/day using Mears), lunch, bank account info, and soliciting donations. One of the big topics of conversation included the logo. Disney is very protective of their font and the iconic symbols Mickey ears, castle, etc. We needed to ‘brand’ EdcampMagic and wanted a logo that could be used on our t-shirts, badges, website icons, stationery, blog and webpage. The problem was we were selling our t-shirts and badges. Disney does not want anyone making money on their copyrighted icons. We had several designs that were proposed to Disney and rejected. This was a long and tedious process. It was decided to remove the Mickey ears and use fireworks instead.
December 7, 2014: We had decided to open our wait-list to 500 and were waiting to hear from Disney about our logo and font selection. We were trying to decide what to do about the dessert party. Should we hold it at EPCOT or Magic Kingdom? We were discussing offering the opportunity to purchase group, behind-the-scenes tours, as well. In addition, we were responsible for a number of rooms at the two resorts and needed to ‘sell’ them or EdcampMagic would need to pay for them.
January 4, 2015: We focused on transportation, again. This was going to be so expensive that we began to think it was too much trouble and tabled the discussion until our next GHO. We were waiting to hear what the park ticket discounts were going to be. Breakfast and lunch were topics, again. Tweet-up at Downtown Disney was discussed. Dessert party at EPCOT and Magic Kingdom were discussed and compared. How much to charge for t-shirts and badges? We decided on the theme of Creativity, Innovation, and the Art of Storytelling and made sure we used this theme when we solicited donations. We still had no sponsors or money.
January 17, 2015: Revisting the transportation issue, we decided finally to “Let it Go!” It was too expensive to consider. We decided to hold our special event, the dessert party at EPCOT. There was still much to decide: should we include the park admission and Soarin’ or should we offer all these things separately? We needed to sell a minimum of 42-45 tickets. There were drop-dead dates we needed to meet in order to get our deposit money back. Lots to consider. We decided to scrap watching the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. We had order deadlines for the t-shirts and name badges that we needed to meet, and we had not gotten an okay for our logo design. We were still concerned with not meeting our room quotas at Pop Century and Port Orleans Riverside. We discussed breakfast and lunch, again. Our hope was to be able to provide breakfast and offer a delicious, reasonably priced, easy-to-serve and clean up option for lunch. We had also hoped to get a sponsor for one or both meals. Many options were explored and quotes received. Still had not decided on a tweet-up location. Many options were explored. Reserving space on Disney property was not an option due to price and minimums. Various logo iterations were shared.
In the middle of January, another bit of Disney magic occurred. Shauna Pollock joined the donations committee! Shauna fit right in with the rest of us. She loves Disney and even called her classroom EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Classroom of Tomorrow). Shauna worked tirelessly on procuring donations for EdcampMagic. Her goal was that everyone who attends EdcampMagic leaves with ‘something.’ Little did we know that Shauna’s dream would be realized!
February 8, 2015: Our registration was up to 295 participants. We felt it was a good time to solicit volunteers to help ‘the day of’ so a survey was crafted and shared in an email with info regarding the dessert party. We were very excited to have our first cash donation from Squirrels in the bank. In addition, we received a response from Polished Play/Puppet Pals that they wanted to donate to our edcamp! Now we felt legitimate, and things were looking up! A sponsor page was created for the blog, however we were still trying to figure out breakfast, lunch, and the tweet-up. The reservations for the rooms continued to be a stress.
We decided to have a makerspace and promoted this idea as we continued to solicit donations. It fit in perfectly with our theme of creativity, innovation, and the art of storytelling. We continued to think of ways to create excitement for our edcamp: trivia and trivia questions shared via social media accounts; hidden Mickey Photoshop challenges created by students; favorite Disney Karaoke song; QR codes shared at edcamp of student work, etc. Some of these happened, some didn’t.
February 22, 2015: Our registration was up to 306, and we had another cash donation in the bank from Haiku Leaning. We began talking about logistics, for example, how did we want to handle session boards, where were we going to post session boards, discussed the traffic flow of participants using a map of the campus. Another sponsor, ShopBot, wanted to participate in EdcampMagic. They wanted to demonstrate how their machine works. We were worried they just wanted to sell their machine and knowing that edcamps are vendor-free environments, wanted to make sure they knew there was to be no sales pitch, just demonstrations. They offered to make luggage tags with the EdcampMagic logo on them for each participant. The person they were sending was not a salesperson, he was going to simply demonstrate their machine and answer questions. We decided that the machine could be part of our Makerspace. The idea of giving participants an EdcampMagic vinyl sticker was proposed.
Still stressing over the sales of the dessert party tickets. Would participants and their families want to attend? Could we sell enough tickets to keep price down and affordable? Would people want to ride Soarin’, as an add on? Should there be 3 separate tickets or should there be one ticket for the entire experience?
Though we explored many options and received many bids/quotes regarding breakfast, lunch, and tweet-up, we were unable to obtain donations for breakfast and/or lunch or space for the tweet-up. Regarding the tweet-up, most venues wanted to charge us, and we had no idea how many people would be attending. There were ordering minimums that needed to be met and if we didn’t meet the minimums, EdcampMagic would be financially responsible.
March 1, 2015: Registration – 315; 30 dessert party tickets sold. Discussed Panera for breakfast. Thinking of food trucks for lunch. They could offer a $10 lunch for everyone and edcamp would be covered by food truck company’s insurance under Windermere Prep’s name.
March 22, 2015: Registration – 356; 20 rooms at Port Orleans-Riverside; 9 rooms at Pop Century; Room deadline March 31. It was decided that EdcampMagic would cover/pay for a room or two at Pop Century because we didn’t want the people in the 9 rooms to lose their reservation. We could also continue to sell the room(s) we paid for up until the actual edcamp. 40 dessert party tickets sold – we met our minimum! Generous cash donations from PolishedPlay/Puppet Pals and ShopBot were in the bank. Panera not giving us a break on breakfast. Still considering Panera for lunch but since not getting a break on breakfast from them, not sure we want to go with them. Since we have some money, we talked about subsidizing lunch. Also, considered selling lunch tickets ahead of time. Would this give us a better idea as to how many people would be attending? We actually had no idea how many people would attend, which was making our three biggest concerns (breakfast, lunch and tweet-up) difficult to plan. The tweet-up was very difficult because most places wanted to know how many people to plan for. We talked about Downtown Disney, but parking was currently terrible due to construction, according to Nick and Howie. Carlos Fernandez secured Pizzeria Uno’s patio for 98 people, no fees, no minimums, but we were afraid of transportation issues, again. Many people were flying in and would not have a car. We wanted to make it as easy as possible to get to from inside WDW.
March 29, 2015: Registration – 368; Rooms – people have until April 20 to get money back without penalty. Only 21 name badges sold, if under 100 will need new bid. Deadline to order April 25. Not only were we excited to receive 10 awesome robot balls, but Sphero also donated cash, sponsoring one of the desserts at the dessert party. In addition, Skype in the Classroom and Learning Bird also stepped up with cash donations. How do we promote Jeff Dixon without compromising edcamp philosophy/protocol? Suggested that we solicit questions to ask Jeff and hold a Q & A with him.
Still no firm plan for breakfast and many options for lunch. Leaning toward Panera for boxed lunch and selling tickets via PayPal. What if participants don’t see communication and miss out on ordering? Still no firm plan for tweet-up. Howie and Carlos respectively checking into Boardwalk and Pizzeria Uno further. Discussed makerspace having student voice or presence in the space somehow.
April 19, 2015: Registration – 375; 10 @ Pop Century and 20 @ Port Orleans-Riverside. All other rooms held by Disney for us have been released. We decided on using 3 food trucks for lunch. We decided to have the tweet-up at the Boardwalk at 6:30. Still no decision on breakfast. We decided on a schedule for the day of EdcampMagic. We created a ‘minute-by-minute’ schedule with the group for the day of so everyone knows what and when things need to be done.
May 3, 2015: Registration – 370; 11 rooms @ Pop Century and 20 at Port Orleans-Riverside. The food trucks are going to charge $10; we decided to subsidize lunch with a $2 off coupon for each participant. We discussed the need for yard signs, banners, stickers for participants, and additional prizes to be purchased (Disney gift cards and Chromebooks). We discussed alternative plans for lunch and the tweet-up in case of rain. We discussed possibility of having a projector running our tweets at the tweet-up.
May 24, 2015: Concerns about transportation prompted us to connect participants through a spreadsheet of people who need rides to event and people who are willing to either drive or share a ride. We decided to purchase breakfast items from Cosco and coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Burden fell on Nick for physically taking care of this. Lunch would not change if raining. Nick suggested ‘runners.’ Seating for lunch outside but may be able to sit in classrooms and possibly gym. Tweet-up would be held at tables along water near Flying Fish; rain plans – Belle Vue Lounge in Boardwalk resort. Use Twitter to notify of change. We had seven sponsors who we needed to thank on social media, etc. In addition to Disney gift cards, and Asus Chromebooks, it was decided to purchase two Mickey ears hats with EdcampMagic on them as supplementary prizes. Krissy was developing a makerspace supply list we purchased from Amazon and had sent directly to Windermere. Jerry Swiatek arranged for our participants to use 81 Events, a conference web-based app, for free. He even set it up for us with the the attendees names. Discussed the flow of registration, newbie table, how to raffle off and display prizes & swag. Discussion of how many volunteers were needed and where they were needed.
June 1, 2015: Opening slideshow, minute-by-minute, and evaluation survey were all shared and input was requested. Revisited carpool list and where needs seemed to be. Decided to play Shauna’s Spotify list as participants arrive. Table tents with sponsor info were designed, lawn signs were designed, ordered and shipped to Windermere. Decided how to give away prizes. Put finishing touches on shopping list and decided who was getting what. Discussed how cool the makerspace was going to be. We were all very excited and a bit nervous but looking forward to EdcampMagic.
Edmagineers’ Reflections on EdcampMagic 2015
June 26, 2015: Registration – 366; 139 actually checked in, but we may have missed some due to early/late arrivals and 2 doors. Rooms: 22 @ Port Orleans-Riverside and 11 @ Pop Century.
Date selection: We chose the beginning of June for several reasons: we wanted to schedule before price increases on rooms took effect; before conference season, especially, ISTE; we wanted to stay away from July & August; unfortunately, many east coast schools are still in session until mid-June; Looking at first two Saturdays of June for 2016
Tweet-up: Next year, hold tweet-up in the lounge of the resort where participants are staying.
Venue: We all agreed that Windermere Prep was the perfect place to hold EdcampMagic.
Makerspace: Lots of great feedback. Next year, will be located in a larger space.
Lunch: Food trucks were well-received. Need to figure out ticket situation.
Opening Session: The gym was full of excitement, the newbie table was busy, and the the session boards filled up quickly. There were unfortunate technical problems with the sound system, that made it difficult to hear and prevented us from sharing a Disney playlist, which would have added to the atmosphere. These won’t be an issue next year.
Sessions: Our session board had a wide-variety of offerings, and the sessions were well-received. We are discussing having one session room (for all four sessions) dedicated specifically to Walt Disney’s creativity, innovation, and the art of storytelling. We could possibly display student projects, etc.
Q & A with Jeff Dixon: Well-received. Exploring other authors or perhaps, Imagineers who might be available for next year.
Prizes: We had awesome prizes! Discussed ways to speed up the distribution of prizes – giving more out throughout the day, maybe at lunch; not giving certificate winners choice; only giving big items away at the end of the day
VoluntEARS: We realized (a bit belatedly) that we need to do a much better job of acknowledging and thanking those who helped us all day during the closing of EdcampMagic. We neglected to give a special shout-out to those who went the extra mile and felt badly about it. Next year…that won’t be happening.
Sponsors: We were very fortunate to receive so many amazing in-kind donations, but we could not have held EdcampMagic without being Powered by ConnectED Learning and the generous financial support of Squirrels, PuppetPals, ShopBot, Sphero, Learning Bird, and Skype in the Classroom. Some of the changes that we’ve discussed for next year include adding signage to session room doors; having round tables in gym instead of chairs; making sure table tents are printed; having a dedicated social media person ‘the day of’; Edmagineers schedule thank you tweets before event in addition to ‘day of’ tweets and posts
Rooms and Discounts: This was a huge stress for Edmagineers, but feedback from participants was positive. We are investigating ways to offer rooms but not have EdcampMagic be responsible financially should certain number of rooms not ‘sold’.
Park tickets: Offering a 20% discount on park tickets for those staying on WDW property was a positive for participants. Some participants mentioned this made the difference between staying on or off property.
Communications with participants: Overall communication was very good; there was a problem when dessert party was moved by Disney due to potential weather issues. Edmagineers had a hard time getting participant feedback before event. We will try Remind next year, allowing participants choice as to how they receive EdcampMagic communications.
Dessert Party: This was another stress for the Edmagineers due to the fact that we needed to meet minimums; Once minimums were met, we were able to relax. The desserts were delicious, the preferred viewing of Illuminations, along with our special viewing glasses, and private ride on Soarin’ was a fabulous way to end our day. We received lots of positive comments even though there was a last minute change in location.
Board/Edmagineer Structure: Now that we have one EdcampMagic under our belts, we feel that it is appropriate to designate positions, define responsibilities, and form committees. Edmagineers could serve on more than one committee; Leads Edmagineers would be able to make decisions and report to Chief Edmagineer who will disseminate info, create agendas, run GHOs, and share action items in timely manner
Mission Statement & Vision: Will be developed to guide us as we make decisions in the future.
Focus on learning:
- Though our focus is on learning, we realize that as a destination edcamp at the ‘Happiest place on earth’ we also have the obligation and opportunity to continue the learning and magic in a variety of ways, including helping secure lodging and tickets at group rates, and planning extra events and meet-ups, which are optional for participants and their family and friends
- We hope that connections made will continue throughout the school year and beyond
- We hope that MyDisneyClass is used to continue to share and grow the excitement and learning of EdcampMagic and that this is where the real connections to students and classrooms can be developed
- We hope that participants continue to follow EdcampMagic on Twitter and Facebook and share their students’ learning, perhaps even showcasing it at EdcampMagic 2016!
EdcampMagic was a dream come true! As you can see, much planning and collaboration went into this unique, destination edcamp (17 whole-group GHO’s, hundreds of Voxes and a Google Drive full of shared Google documents). It’s safe to say that EdcampMagic could not have happened without Google and Voxer. Next year, will be much easier to plan allowing us to focus on the real reason we wanted to travel to Walt Disney World, to enjoy, explore, and experience the creativity, innovation, and art of storytelling with other educators and their family and friends who are inspired by Walt Disney and the notion that ‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’
We can’t wait to start planning EdcampMagic 2016 and welcoming our newest Edmagineer, Shauna Pollock, to the group!