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International online barcamp for the networking of educational institutions

International networking is one of the main concerns of ARGE Bildungshäuser Österreich. It allows us to look outside the box, discover new possibilities for innovation and further development, gain a more holistic understanding of educational policy aspects and ultimately to professionalise adult education. But what to do in a phase where personal exchange is cancelled? The solution was a combination of past experiences and current developments: the current digitalisation boom was combined with the creative concept of a barcamp. The result was a wonderfully open, productive and intensive exchange with 35 participants from 29 institutions and five countries (Germany, Austria, Denmark, Liechtenstein and South Tyrol).

From face-to-face meeting to online barcamp

The networking meeting of ARGE Bildungshäuser Österreich and the Verband der Bildungszentren im ländlichen Raum is an annual fixture in the calendar. It usually takes place in Germany or Austria.

In the special year 2020, the networking meeting planned for October 2020 in southern Germany had to be cancelled due to the situation. At that time, the digitalisation boom was already arriving in most educational institutions. So it was clear that this time the meeting would be held online. As an experienced Barcamp organiser and participant, ARGE BHÖ Managing Director Gaby Filzmoser quickly brought this format into play. The date was to be 13 January 2021.

Organisation from home office

The members of the organisation team, Gaby Filzmoser, Bianca Baumgartner (ARGE Bildungshäuser Österreich), Peter Buhrmann (Verband der Bildungszentren im ländlichen Raum) and Peter Jungmeier (SPES Zukunftsakademie), most of whom were in their home offices, worked together exclusively online to plan the event. This kind of cooperation worked well and the preparations proceeded quickly. Thus, the information website argebhnetzwerk.wordpress.com was created for all those interested in online networking, an invitation was sent by e-mail and the possibility to submit discussion topics (so-called session proposals) online was set up. 

Exciting topics, motivated participants

The willingness to share experiences and exchange ideas was high. Thus, the 1st Online Networking Barcamp started on 13 January 2021 with 35 participants from five countries and 21 session proposals. 

In 2 timeslots and 3 online rooms, the favourite topics were discussed. The content ranged from "Learning spaces of the future" to "Sustainable Development Goals" and "Joint projects and sustainability". Naturally, the topic "Corona and the design of online events" also played a role. 

Also interesting was an emerging discussion on better international cooperation in projects, e.g. in the form of an idea platform through which interested project partners could find each other and join forces. Finally, the expansion of the network was also a topic. 

All participants were highly motivated and almost all of them stayed from the beginning to the very end. 

Maybe again?

After the two session timeslots, extra time was planned for the consolidation of results and the outlook for the future. It was important for the organisers to note which concrete steps would be taken next. In addition, the participants had the opportunity to give comments and feedback on the previous hours. The unanimous tenor: "Thank you for the exchange, we should do that again!

Online Barcamp