Professional Learning

Planning an edcamp Unconference: Doing All of the Little Things

The last in Mary Beth Hertz’s series on how to start a DIY education conference.

November 15, 2010

This is the final post in a four-part series on running an edcamp unconference. You can find links to the previous posts at the end of this post.

Once you've taken care of all of the important things like securing a venue, finding sponsorship and assembling a team, there are plenty of smaller details to take care of. Some of these can be accomplished earlier in the game and some can be left to the last minute.

Make a Website

Once you are confident that your event will happen, it makes sense to build a simple website to begin advertising and spreading the word about your event. You can use a simple Wordpress template like the edcamp Philly site or any other site builder you feel comfortable using. You can contact one of the edcamp Philly organizers about joining the domain.

You can also use your site to showcase attendees and sponsors as well as host the schedule and information for the day of the event.

To Feed or Not to Feed

Once you have satisfied your basic costs to put on the event, you can start to think about whether you have enough leftover funds to provide breakfast and/or lunch for your attendees. You may also want to seek out sponsors who can donate food, such as local coffee shops or restaurants. Feeding your attendees is not necessary, but it is always nice to have some coffee and things to nibble on before a long day of conversation.

Live Streaming

Some edcamps have provided live streams of sessions by setting up rooms with streaming equipment. Others have had attendees running live UStream feeds from sessions. This is always a nice touch for those who want to attend from afar.

Use Twitter

Many edcamp attendees are prolific tweeters. It is wise to create a Twitter account for your event (i.e @edcampphilly or @edcampnyc) to broadcast updates. You should also decide what the official hashtag for the conference will be so that it is easy to follow the backchannel conversations during the event.


Many edcamps have tee shirts and you may want to invest in lanyards or other "swag" items. You can also solicit these from sponsors if they can provide them. Since edcamps are grassroots events, these kinds of items are generally unnecessary, so it is up to the organizing team whether they are present or not.

Make a Final Walkthrough

If you are holding your event at a venue with which you are not familiar, visit the location a few weeks prior to do a walkthrough of each room to survey its capacity and amenities as well as to check walking distance to parking, restaurants and public transportation.

On the day of the event, it is important to have signs pointing people in the right direction. If you are not using all of the rooms, you can place signs outside the rooms you will be using to make them easier to locate.

Create a Scheduling Board

The scheduling board must be made ahead of time, but will not be filled out until the morning of the event. The board should have time slots on the left and room numbers along the top. Attendees can fill out an index card or similar item with their session title to place in a time slot. If you have rooms with special amenities like projectors or live streaming, label them as such so people know what each room has to offer.

Have Fun

The amazing thing about an edcamp is that it basically runs itself. Since sessions are run by the attendees, there is little for the organizer(s) to do except make sure that they are moving around and monitoring that everything is running smoothly.

To see what an edcamp looks like in action and hear more from attendees, check out this video by True Life Media:

Ed Camp from True Life Media on Vimeo.

See the previous edcamp posts:

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