What is an UnConference?

An Origin in "EdCamps"

An “unconference” (also referred to as an “EdCamp”) is a participant-driven conference model that emerged in the early 2010s. Unconferences subvert the expert-centered structure of traditional conferences by instead prioritizing participant voices (in this case educators) as leaders and decision-makers. 

On the morning of the event, participants typically gather to propose and organize sessions based on the interest and expertise of those in attendance. This dynamic organizational process allows for unconferences to “leverage the knowledge and experiences of attendees by allowing educators to collaboratively determine topics for discussion” (Digital Promise, 2022). After sessions are scheduled, volunteer educators then lead and facilitate sessions by “using their experiences to drive conversation with their peers” (Digital Promise, 2022). 

In a world where teachers don’t often get a “seat at the table,” unconferences provide a unique opportunity for educators from all experience levels and backgrounds to share experiential knowledge and participate in community-based problem solving. 

To read more about the unconference model, check out these resources by Digital Promise.

Tenets of the EdCamp Model (Digital Promise)

  • Free and open to all: Edcamps never charge a fee and are open to educators of all levels, subjects, and schools. Edcamps are designed to expand professional learning communities by encouraging educator participation across schools and districts.
  • Participant driven: Edcamps allow participants to collaboratively determine session topics. Typically, session topics are sourced from those attending the Edcamp and the session board is built the day of the Edcamp with participation from participants. However, online Edcamps are allowed to source session topics through their registration process in order to best prepare for their online event.
  • Experience, not experts: Edcamps encourage participants to facilitate sessions by sharing experiences. At Edcamp, we encourage conversations, not planned presentations.
  • Rule of Two Feet/Clicks: Edcamps suggest participants find sessions that meet their needs to maximize learning. If you are in a session that is not meeting your needs, we encourage you to move on to another session that may be better suited. Online Edcamps use the Rule of Two Clicks to find a session that better meets their needs!
  • Vendor Free: Edcamps may not sell any goods/services or require attendees to purchase goods or services. We do not condone inviting vendors to an Edcamp.