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Unconference for Educators June 3 and 4

MNU’s School of Education is hosting an Unconference June 3 and 4 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Bell Cultural Events Center on the Olathe campus. Part of the summer workshops and institutes program, this learning opportunity for educators, administrators, pre-service teachers, homeschooling groups and corporate trainers follows a participant-driven format. Organizers say the take-away for participants will be understanding how to use learning opportunities rich in human interaction and problem-solving to develop literacy and technology skills.

Dr. Michael Wesch, Kansas State University distinguished teaching scholar and associate professor of cultural anthropology, will launch the unconference June 3. Wesch, presenter of The End of Wonder in the Age of Whatever and From Knowledge to Knowledge-able, will challenge participants to rethink how they engage learners. Wesch is a recipient of the highly coveted “U.S. Professor of the Year” award from the Carnegie Foundation.

So what is an unconference? According to Dr. Nancy Damron, dean of the School of Education, an unconference is an open space that allows participants to connect with other professionals to discuss an area of need or interest.  Participants decide what they want to learn and work with others in problem-solving to meet their individual classroom needs.

“The idea is that teachers do best when solving problems together; sharing their knowledge to raise achievement in the classroom,” Damron says.

In this format, participants will be asked to submit topics of interest on the first day and to serve as facilitators for a group discussing a topic of interest. The Unconference planning team, which includes a current and a former principal as well as MNU faculty members, will organize breakout sessions from those submissions, assign facilitators, and participants can then choose which sessions to attend.

Damron says the personalization that this allows meets the needs of participants because the learning is applicable to their own classrooms or professional development. It also allows for the creation of a learning community that benefits from the diverse experience of participants.

“The unconference format empowers educators to seek new learning from each other,” Damron says. “In this setting, they can participate in a learning community that encompasses the entire metro area.”

One breakout session that is already planned will present the action research conducted by students in the Master of Education Reading Specialist program. Students from that program will be on hand to facilitate discussion and explain their findings.

The cost of the two-day Unconference is $100 and includes lunch both days. Continuing education credit is available for an additional fee. For more information or to register for the Unconference visit


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