Annual barcamps on OER – How an open event inspires open educational activities in Germany

Mar 02, 2016
Anne Tannhäuser

OERCamp-Logo-Text_unten-200x215The “open educational ideas and innovations (OEI2)” initiative promoted open collaboration already when ideas for OER development are being formed so that trust into the educational materials gets higher and existing resources are more likely to be re-used. Now at the end of our project, we are excited to share good practices that demonstrate such an apporach. Below we will describe how the annual unconferences called “OERCamps” established a growing grassroot community for open educational resources (OER) in Germany.

What is it about?

BarCamps are participant-driven conferences during which attendees share and learn in an open informal environment. Unlike traditional conferences that pre-scheduled a programme, BarCamps rely on input

GP_OERCamp session planning

Session planning with all OERCamp attendees Photo by “jmm-Hamburg” under CC BY 2.0 Generic

from attendees to create the session programme on the spot and collaborate ad-hoc on emerging topics. The format was first established in the IT sector by web developers and software engineers. The OERCamp in Germany is based on this event format with a focus open educational resources (OER). Since 2012, several such camps have taken place in Bremen, Bielefeld and Berlin. On top of the ad-hoc sessions also some workshops are offered by the emerging OERcamp community members.

Main goals are to:

  • network and connect stakeholders across diverse educational domains
  • share knowledge and expertise on OER
  • spread the word on existing as well as new initiatives
  • promote open education among educational practitioners and to decision- and policy-makers

Who were collaborators?

Practitioners and educators in media for education, adult educators, school teachers, researchers, policy-makers, educational publishers, OER advocates

Why did we choose the initiative as good practice?

The events are very participatory, incubate new ideas and attrack attendees with diverse backgrounds.

GP_EduCamp OERatlas

Publication on OER stakeholders and activities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

The OERCamp has directly or indirectly resulted in the following outcomes (selection):

  • The low threshold to initiate discussions and share knowledge has been a main driver of a growing OER grassroot community in the German-speaking countries. Several established educational platform providers for school education have started to license resources with Creative Commons. The event built and strengthened a community on OER which had a major influence on the growing political support for the topic in Germany, e.g. the availability of national funding for awareness raising and further education measures.
  • A concise guide for teachers on the objectives behind OER, Creative Commons licenses and main educational repositories/platform has been developed by OERCamp participants from Austria and has been remixed and adapted to the German context
  • Plans to issue an OER award were discussed openly during the OERCamp 2015 and put into practice early 2016. Also as a result of the award plans the event grew into 2 day BarCamp and a 1 day forum involving 7 partners, 30 supporters, 272 registrations, 109 speakers. From a large number of submissions to the award 26 jury members selected 32 nominees and finalists. The organizers presented all submissions in a CC-BY licensed publication that gives a good insight into the current OER landscape (see picture).
    GP_OERCamp awards

    OER Award 2016 Photo under CC0 (Courtesy of Karl Kirst)

How was the collaboration organized? What were main activities, tools used and organisations/individuals involved?

GP_OERCamp documentation

Participant-driven session documention via Etherpads

The camps have evolved as separate events out of unconferences focusing on educational technology, media education and innovation in education. Both are coordinated by the non-profit association “EduCamp e.V.” (website in German here). The organisation of the camps is financed through private sponsors and public funding that is acquired for every event. The list of media and other supporters (location, man power) has grown each year since the first OERCamp.

All session documentation is in the hands of participants with the organizers providing the technical infrastructure and core points to be recorded such as:

  • Contact to session organizers
  • Core results
  • Interesting quotes
  • Call for participation/follow-up events

Examples of participant-led documentation in German is available for 2014 and 2015.

Twitter is used by a high percentage of the attendees to share thoughts, critically comment, promote and reflect on sessions or share the documentation.

How did the initiative evolve further?

It is foreseen to continue the organisation of annual OERCamps.

Notable details

OERCamps are attended by both a dedicated community of experts and new attendees. The events attracts individuals who are new to OER; approximately 50% of participants have never been to an OERCamp before (according to the organizers).


No comments

Leave a Reply