Program Theory

Edcamp Program Theory

Built on principles of connected and participatory learning, Edcamp strives to bring educators together to talk about the things that matter most to them: teaching and learning.” (The Edcamp Foundation, 2014)

Organizers secure a facility with a large space to accommodate all participants at once as well as a number of other spaces for small groups to assemble. This large space should have smaller tables to encourage conversations and offer a workspace for groups and individuals throughout the day. On the tables are cards and markers for creating session invitations. Traditionally the organizers arrange snacks and meals. A facilitator will open the event communicating the theme, communicating the principles and law that will guide the day, and encouraging participants to make invitations. The facilitator will also guide an end-of-event wrap-up bringing people together to debrief and establish next steps.


In an opening session, participants are oriented to the space and the plan for the day then they make invitations to learn about, share about, talk about, or collaborate on topics of interest to them. Participants use their time and the space to pursue their own interests following four principles and one law of Open Space Technology:

  1. Whoever comes are the right people - the people that accept an invitation are those that are interested in the topic. Whether many people show up, or just a few, those participants are have self-selected to attend and engage.
  2. It starts when it starts - while the schedule has times to facilitate the flow of the day, participants are free to make personal connections with others and there is no pressure to dive into a topic because of the time.
  3. It ends when it ends - likewise, participants are free to extend sessions if the topic and participants are still engaged, and they are free to end a session if the energy is exhausted. Sessions that end early afford the participants the opportunity to move to a different space and a new topic.
  4. What happens happens - Participants are encouraged to take what they have and get on with it, not to worry about resources that are not available, people that are not there, but to proceed with the wisdom in the room.
  5. The Law of Mobility - participants have complete autonomy throughout the day. They may leave a session that is not meeting their needs, they may join a session at any point if they think it will be interesting. No one is stuck in a session and they are encouraged to find a space that gives them energy.

The remainder of the day is very self-directed for the participants. They are encouraged to pursue their own professional development goals while sharing ideas and building their professional learning network.


After the schedule is constructed, participants will move through the day attending or creating different spaces with others or alone to pursue their interests. One would expect that, at the end of the day, each individual will have met or made progress toward achieving their own professional goals. Organizationally, one would expect that participants have shared ideas, made new professional connections, extended their own learning network, and acquired some knowledge, skills, or understandings.


Each Edcamp may have a unique theme and they all articulate their own goals. A survey of forty different sources found online with a search using the terms, “Edcamp goals” and “Edcamp purpose” (listed below) reveal a common set of three goals relating to idea exchange, professional growth, and engagement with learning networks.

While the event goals are understood, each participant can pursue their own individual goals. Some may want answers to specific questions, to share something they are passionate about, or simple to meet other educators and hear some different ideas. This study will focus on the organizational goals and, perhaps, seek to measure whether participants had their own specific goals at the beginning and the extent to which the participant feels their goals were met.


Focusing on the three goals of idea exchange, networking, and professional growth, it is possible to gather feedback at the end of the event, but a follow-up survey some weeks or months later will shed light on the persistence of connections and the impact of that learning in their own profession.



The Edcamp Foundation. (2014). The Edcamp model: Powering up professional learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.


Survey of Edcamp goals

Source Explicit goal URL
Edcamp Citrus The goal of edcamp Citrus is to bring educators together to discuss pedagogy, classroom strategies/techniques and technology that works.
Edcamp Design Thinking The goal of EdCamp Design Thinking is to promote the 21st century skills: creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication as well as entrepreneurship.
EdCamp Manatee The goal of EdCamp Manatee is to create an environment where teachers can share the pedagogy, classroom/learning strategies and technology that work in their classrooms.
EdCamp Manatee The goal of Edcamp is to provide teacher-centered, professional development focused on the needs and wants of educators — no agendas, no lectures.
Edcamp Leon The goal of EdCamp Leon is to bring educators together to discuss pedagogy, classroom strategies/techniques and technology that works.
Lethcamp According to the Edcamp founder, Kristen Swanson, the ultimate goal of Edcamp is, “to provide space for teachers to learn from each other. They give everyone a voice and a forum to explore new ideas and strategies.”
Edcamp London (ON) The goal of EdCamp London is to bring administrators, teachers, parents and community members together to share their passions and ideas for better learning.
South Washington County Schools Workforce Glossary The goal of EdCamp is to ensure our professional development training is personalized to what each teacher needs to improve his or her craft.
20 Inspiring women who are transforming the way kids learn [Blog Post] The goal of EdCamp is to "help educators discover new ways of learning and teaching, reigniting their passion in the classroom and passing it on to students across the globe."
Edcamp Detroit Our goal is to bring educators together to share their passion and ideas for better learning in an open format.
ISTE: Edcamps are redefining professional learning (by Kristen Swanson) It’s about connecting people with purpose and finding new ways to learn.
Edcamp Ukraine The goal is to “make the voice of every teacher heard,”
3 Reasons why you should attend an edcamp [blog post] The goal here is to share information and learn from likeminded educators, not to make money, hawk products, or sell textbooks.
Carpenter (2015) Teacher collaboration is thus considered by many to be a desirable goal, Carpenter, J. P. (2015). Unconference professional development: Edcamp participant perceptions and motivations for attendance. Professional Development in Education, 42(1), 1–22.
Edcamp Leadership Its goal is to assemble forward-thinking educators for a day of conversations, reflection and inspiration.
Edcamp Leadership Its goal is to assemble forward-thinking school administrators, board of education members, classroom teacher leaders, parents/community members – anyone interested in K-12 education – for a day of conversation, reflection and inspiration.
Tips for a successful Edcamp [blog post] everyone in attendance has the same goal: To provide the best possible educational experience for students.
Edcamp for world languages The national Edcamp Foundation describes the goal of an edcamp as "promoting organic, participant-driven professional development" (
Edcamp Denver EdCamps are a great way to take control of your own PD and make some new connections in the process.
Edcamp Whole Child Our goal is to assemble students, teachers, administrators, parent/community members – anyone interested in education – for a day of conversation, reflection, and inspiration
Edcamp Randolph Middle Schools The goal of an EdCamp is to bring educators together to discuss pedagogy, classroom strategies and technology that works.
Red Camp the purpose of an edcamp is to bring diverse people together for a set period of time to share ideas within a context
Edcamp Maryland 2016 The entire purpose of an Edcamp is for attendees to participate in and receive professional learning in topics and areas that will directly benefit them and their students
The Joy and Wonder of an Edcamp [blog post] The purpose of an edcamp was brought to life as teachers connected.
Mizzou Edcamp The purpose of edcamps is to get everyone sharing their experience with each other and build a Professional Learning Network.
Edcamp Idaho The purpose of Edcamp Idaho is to provide a venue where Idaho Educators can come together, and be "in charge" of their own professional development.
Edcamp USDOE The purpose of Edcamp USDOE is to bring together educators and policy makers in open, transparent, authentic conversation.
Greg McVerry [Tweet] A teacher challenges his peers: If PD in your school or district isn't up to par, take matters into your own hands.
Thus the purpose of #edcamp
Rachelle Dene Poth @teachintechgal #tntechchat #edcamp A1 To give opps for personalizd, unstructurd, PD, gives Ts choice, encourages collab, conectn, #pln bldg
Nathan Stevens @teachintechgal A1 edcamps are about creating equal conversation about topics that matter. #TnTechChat
Edcamp leadership: Inspiring Vision [blog post] “We build and support a community of empowered learners.”

As the overarching purpose of EdCamp, I believe this mission statement speaks of the vision the strongest.
NKYEC’s Edcamp provides professional development opportunity for educators — and they turn out “The purpose of Edcamp is to give teachers the professional development that they’ve always wanted,”
Edcamp Idaho The purpose of Edcamp Idaho is to provide a venue where Idaho Educators can come together and be “in charge” of their own professional development.
EdCamp Druid Hills “the purpose of EdCamp is to engage in DIALOGUE between educators”
“EdCamp's vision is create an international network of educators dedicated to participant-driven professional learning for themselves and others that accelerates student growth. “
Edcamp Vancouver: An “Unconference” for ALL [blog post] The purpose of Edcamp is to put a bunch of creative, innovative and dedicated people together to share ideas and improve teaching and educational practices.
EdCamp Held for NC Teachers


The purpose of EdCamp is for teachers to learn from one another and to become better professionals in the classroom.
Edcamp Delta marks a new way to hold conference "Organized by a group of leaders that includes teachers, administrators, educational assistants and parents, the purpose of Edcamp Delta is to put creative, innovative and dedicated people together to share ideas on improving teaching and educational practices," say the organizers. - See more at:
Slice of Life #2: The Wrong Question - Reflection on Edcamp Columbus [blog post] I believe the purpose of Edcamp is not learning specific new strategies to use in the classroom. It’s about building an understanding of what really matters in the classroom: Empowerment.  Involvement. Risk.  Relationships.
My Experience in a New Learning Environment [blog post] the purpose of EdCamp is to “empower educators to honor their own expertise. It is designed in a way that encourages peer learning, sharing, and collaboration.”
Edcamp Wiki


points to the openness and flexibility of edcamp goals - are “goals” and “theme” used synonymously?

First: Determine a mission/goal for the event. (Read part 1 of Mary Beth's series on creating an edcamp)

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What types of discussions would you like your audience to have?
  • Engage your audience in conversation so they will attend the event.
  • Enlist the help of others--an unconference is hard to put on alone!


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