About OERcamps (in English)

Meeting of practitioners

Below you will find the English version of the German ‚About us‘ page for the OERcamp. The event OERcamp is a meeting place for practitioners of digital and open teaching and learning materials in German-speaking countries. Topic of the OERcamps is Open Educational Resources (OER), understood as teaching and learning materials under free and open licenses. The first OERcamp took place in Bremen in 2012. By March 2024, 35 OERcamps had been held in various cities across Germany and online. Each camp with 80-300 participants from all areas of education.

OERcamps open up new and contemporary learning formats based on openness, sharing, participation and equality. They are the appropriate educational format for a time in which we are not only dependent on transferring fixed knowledge, but also on creating new knowledge together. OERcamps are also about sharing, discussing and negotiating solutions in a changing world. They are also a central building block for networking within the framework of the OER strategy of the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research; Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung).

The camps are also a source for the joint development and use of OER. Sessions are also documented using collaborative text documents, blogs, podcasts, etc., which are usually shared under a CC BY license. Since the beginning, hundreds of documents have been created and countless OER activities have been created, initiated, promoted, catalyzed and pursued.

OERcamps – mainstreaming open education through barcamps

OERcamps offer a radical “open to all” approach by lowering the barriers to participation. This is done by removing participation fees and all formal requirements and by encouraging cross-educational collaboration and peer-to-peer support for participants. The OERcamps provide a base and center for the growing German OER community.

At the heart of the OERcamps is the “unconference” format of the Barcamps. In recent years, the OERcamps have grown to more than 10 events per year in various formats. There is also a barcamp book and a collection of CC BY-licensed materials created by a community of OER actors. Even a series of webtalks, educational videos and a virtual SummOERschool have been created to support educators in times of Covid-19.

The OERcamps were funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research from 2017 to March 2024 under grant numbers 01PO18025 and 01P023002.

Facts and figures about the OERcamps

  • 605 sessions and 327 workshops
  • over 4106 participants
  • 77 published results
  • 10 webtalk series on OER in over 20 weeks, which were converted into online courses

Press materials

Press materials of the event OERcamp. The OERcamp is always open for questions, further content, interviews etc.!

Insights to the events

OERcamp – Awards and mentions

Open Education Awards for Excellence 2020

The event OERcamp is delighted to have received the special distinction of the Open Innovation Award 2020, which was presented by the OE Awards Committee “Open Education Global”.

Statement of the OE Award Committee:

“The Open Innovation Award for Excellence is presented to an outstanding innovation that brings a new approach to open education. Ideas or solutions that present innovative applications of OER to create new opportunities or address existing challenges in open education. This award is selected by the OE Awards Committee to recognize truly exceptional work in Open Education. We applaud your dedication to openness, access, high quality and innovation, shown by your work and vision.”

OERcamps mentioned in Horizon Report

The work of OERcamps has been acknowledged by 2020 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report | Teaching and Learning Edition, p. 27:

“To encourage and support such initiatives, countries such as Germany have developed the #OERcamp, which serves as an incubator through informal meetups across the country.”

OERcamps as described in a UNESCO Report

A review of OER-related activities in Germany on behalf of UNESCO (Orr, Neumann, Muuß-Merholz 2017, S. 8) stated:

“Since OER activities are mostly driven bottom-up, there has been a need for sharing questions, experiences and materials between players, who have been isolated in their own institutions. These players found opportunities for sharing in cross-sector events and communities. Especially the barcamp/unconference format turned out to fit tremendously well developing a strong German OER community.”

Barcamp – is there a bar here?

There are various myths surrounding the origin of the term and format. One of the most well-founded is as follows: In 2004, Tim O’Reilly invited the digital scene from the San Francisco Bay Area. O’Reilly is the founder of a computer book publishing company. The popularity of the terms “Open Source” and “Web 2.0” are also attributed to him. He called the event “Foo Camp” (Friends of O’Reilly). A report in the industry magazine Business 2.0 at the beginning of 2004:

„Tim O’Reilly, Foo’s founder, made sure that basics like food, showers, and meeting space were available, but then quickly turned over the weekend’s agenda to the geeks […].

The idea: Get 200 or so smart folks with a lot in common together in one place at one time, let them pitch tents, toss in a Wi-Fi network, and see what happens. Turns out, quite a lot.“

The terms “foo” and “bar” are used as placeholders in the language of programmers. They signal a blank space where different content can be inserted. Interestingly, the Foo Camp was by invitation only. Barcamps, on the other hand, wanted to counter this exclusivity with an open format. Incidentally, the term camp refers to the gathering of participants. In fact, according to Eris Stassi, there were even camping tents at the first Barcamp.

This text by Jöran Muuß-Merholz is licenced under a CC BY 4.0 (English version translated with deepL).

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