Large educational conferences and formal professional development workshops are starting to become a thing of the past. This is because so much is changing in education today. The demand for new innovative and effective approaches is widely popular among today’s .

They are doing away with traditional workshops that deliver content that is predetermined and participating more in the “unconference” that is called an EdCamp. EdCamps encourage participation and conversation in a relaxed atmosphere. Here we’ll take a look at why EdCamps are emerging as a frontrunner as the new professional development for educators.

What Are EdCamps?

EdCamps are free, informal events by teachers for teachers. They are designed to expand professional learning by sharing experiences and conversations. These events are more collaborative than traditional workshops and can be hosted by anyone from a pre-service teacher to a team of teachers, a librarian, or even a school district. Anyone who attends these events is encouraged to participate and share their experiences.

Each EdCamp is unique because there is usually no preset agenda. Typical events are based on the attendees sharing ideas and then building sessions together based on the needs of the participants. The goal is to network, , and form connections with like-minded educators who want to continue learning and discussing important educational issues.

What are the Benefits of an EdCamp?

EdCamps offer several benefits for educators to learn, grow, share, and connect in a laid-back atmosphere. Here are some of the key benefits of participating in an EdCamp event.

Participant-Centered Approach

One of the unique features of EdCamps that make them so widely popular is that they are driven by the interests and needs of the participants. Since EdCamps are informal and follow no real structure or agenda, topics are decided by attendees unlike in a professional development workshop where they are decided by a committee or the presenter. All participants whether they are , or an administrator are encouraged to choose topics that are relevant to them. This type of personalized experience makes these events more engaging because learning is aligned with the needs of the individual attendee.

Building Professional Connections

EdCamps provide a space for educators to collaborate and network with others. Participants are encouraged to share their knowledge and experience on the topics that are relevant to them. Since there is no main expert presenter, participants share and collaborate with one another fostering a sense of community and professional support all while networking. These informal interactions with others from various educational backgrounds lay the foundation for collaborative networking that will help contribute to an enriching learning experience.

Career Development

Participating in an EdCamp event contributes to an educator’s professional growth and development. Educators can acquire new knowledge and strategies by participating in sessions that align with their interests. These learned new skills can help to enhance their effectiveness as a teacher and may even lead to new opportunities or enhanced student performance. Additionally, EdCamps can inspire educators by being with like-minded people who motivate them to further their career development.

EdCamp Professional Development Data

The following EdCamp data is taken from a 2015 report of an EdCamp event as well as a 2022 online EdCamp event.

Ratings of EdCamp Experience

A on participant’s perceptions and motivations for attending an EdCamp event found that 70% of participants were motivated to attend because of recommendations. 43% were motivated to attend because they’ve heard positive things about the events, while 27% reported their colleagues motivated them to attend. When asked how they would rate the EdCamp event, 85% of participants reported an excellent or good experience whereas only 2% reported their experience as poor.

When asked about the strengths and weaknesses of the EdCamp experience attendees revealed the top five strengths as being a positive atmosphere, the freedom to transition between sessions, connecting through technology, sharing ideas with others, and learning new perspectives. The number one weakness participants shared was reminding others to share their participation time so everyone would get a chance to share their thoughts. Attendees also named other shortcomings such as not being as collaborative as they had hoped and not having anywhere else to go if the session wasn’t of interest to them.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced closures, so EdCamps moved online to meet the needs of teachers and support them through any challenges they faced during and after the pandemic. An online was created for educators to share their knowledge and experiences and share insights on how to teach remotely.

A survey conducted on the series found that educators who participated in the online event learned new tools and strategies, had a renewed focus on building relationships with their students, and felt they had found a community that helped them learn to make time for self-care in order to thrive and survive in their profession. Ultimately, educators reported they had found a collaborative place to learn and connect to others who have shared similar challenges.

The EdCamp model is built upon the idea that teachers can learn from and inspire one another. These events are meant to bring educators together to collaborate and network. from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that educators who selected their own professional development opportunities had double the satisfaction compared to those who had fewer options.

In the EdCamp model, everyone’s expertise is acknowledged and respected. This new and innovative professional development approach is changing the way educators learn and collaborate with their peers and is exciting to see how it continues to grow in popularity.

EdCamp Resources

Here are a few helpful resources for those who wish to learn more about EdCamps or want to participate in an EdCamp event.

EdCamp Community

gives you background information about EdCamps as well as provides you with the tenets of the EdCamp model.

Attend an EdCamp

gives you information about where to find an EdCamp near you. Here you will find dates, times, and locations as well as have the ability to register for an event.

: This resource provides you with various additional publication about EdCamps.

*Updated December 2023