BarCamps are a specific type of peer learning. These events are often referred to as a "UNconference", because they resemble a conference in many ways, but they are designed to be more open and to offer greater opportunities for participation. In BarCamps, the topics and the ideas come directly from the participants rather than being prescribed and participants can discuss anything that interests them. The following description shows how this works.
Network participation events for exchange and peer learning on OER
This is a voluntary type of support but can be very popular, especially with people who are already interacting with OER and now want to exchange their ideas, questions and challenges with people who may have similar problems and similar experiences. This type of informal support provides an opportunity to foster a sharing culture through the creation of communities of practice and to strengthen individual commitment to OER. The German case suggests that this type of support is very effective.
Box: The significance of barcamps for supporting local networks of practice and exchange in Germany
In Germany, most OER activities have been primarily driven by enthusiasts (i.e., they are bottom-up). This has led to a need for opportunities to share questions, experiences and materials between players isolated in their own institutions. These players found opportunities for sharing at cross-sector events and within relevant communities. In particular, the barcamp/unconference format has turned out to fit well with the goal of developing a strong German OER community. These are user-generated conferences where participants provide the content. Attendees schedule sessions by writing on a Post-It note and placing this on a grid of sessions (this is often done digitally using collaborative platforms to collate the information and organize the sessions). In 2017, around 750 participants attended four barcamps with around 150 miniworkshops and barcamp sessions on OER (Orr, Neumann, & Muuß-Merholz, 2017).
REFERENCES + LICENSE: The texts "Network participation events for exchange and peer learning on OER" and “The significance of barcamps for supporting local networks of practice and exchange in Germany” by Fengchun Miao, Sanjaya Mishra, Dominic Orr, and Ben Janssen, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), via https://www.unesco.de/sites/default/files/2020-01/Guidelines_on_the_Development_of_OER_Policies_2019.pdf, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO, shortened by SEA-EU.
This book (see link) was originally published in German by Jöran Muuß-Merholz under the title "Barcamps & Co.: Peer to Peer-Methoden für Fortbildungen". It offers an account of BarCamps as an open event format and was published free of copyright. As for its wider dissemination, the book was made available as an automatically translated English version, which you can access by clicking on the link below. Feel free to delve into the text and skip from chapter to chapter according to what interests you.
License: The book "Barcamps & Co. peer to peer methods for training" by Jöran Muuß-Merholz (automatically translated) via https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qfTS-w3X6zSoHjwRpGN-k3Hodl2uYazE/edit# is licensed under CC BY 4.0. The naming convention is "#OERcamp" with a link to oercamp.de/material/.
Although it focuses on medical education, many of the issues raised in the following article can be transferred to other areas of education as can the advantages of BarCamps. The author provides a summary of dos and don'ts regarding the use of BarCamps for medical conferences or any other open organised events. (download of the PDF is in the left column)
License: The work "Raising the BarCamp: international reflections" by David Topps, Sebastian Dennerlein and Tamsin Treasure-Jones, MedEdPublish, via https://www.mededpublish.org/manuscripts/1071 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.