The Ins and Outs of BarCamps

by Petra Schmid-Riggins

What is a BarCamp?

At a BarCamp a lot of people come together to discuss a common interest. First there is a round of introductions and everyone describes themselves with 3 keywords. Thereupon, the participants themselves offer various topics called sessions. If there is an interest in a session, it will be allocated a room and a time. This is called session planning. Each session starts as soon as all sessions are planned. They are spread over many rooms to accommodate all topics. For example as workshops, lectures or discussions. In the sessions, everyone will be asked to share their knowledge with the others. A BarCamp is usually free, as meals and rooms are provided by sponsors. At a BarCamp you can exchange experience and knowledge, make new contacts and discuss ideas and projects. A BarCamp provides many new impulses and is unbelievably fun.

Why Learn at BarCamps?

BarCamps are an ideal way to learn. Therefore, we should establish this variant of collaborative exchange as an integral part of our education community. Structurally and organizationally, BarCamps reflect the teaching and learning processes of the 21st century – disruptive, agile, lean, 4Cs (collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking) – and are therefore already an important offer to experience and shape the way learning works in today’s time. BarCamps can also take place in a virtual space via Google hangout or Zoom meeting.

The aim of an education-oriented BarCamp is to create networking opportunities for educators and those interested in education in order to create and expand a PLN (personal learning networks) for the participants also state or nationwide.

How To’s?

Participants are led from the passive role of the listener into an active partnership. The focus is on exchange, networking and learning. Topics are defined collectively by all and thus really interesting questions are secured. Because we know that networking only works when a real, regular exchange takes place, appointments, news and articles on given topics should be published via Twitter, Facebook and existing websites (only if available). And although the digital channels allow a fast and efficient exchange, a #irl (in real life) meeting – face-to-face meetings – are also important.

What are your Experiences with BarCamps?

Have you attended and/or hosted BarCamps previously? And if so, what are your experiences?  Would you like to attend and/or host a BarCamp? What education-related topics would you like to discuss at a BarCamp?

Please share your feedback in the comment section.