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A distributed community that opens tech education to everyone

OpenTechSchool (OTS) offers educational courses on technology through hands-on events taking place all across Europe. While the technology community has sometimes been guilty of excluding women and the elderly, OTS is actively inclusive and open to enthusiasts of all genders and all ages.

OTS is a community initiative established in Berlin in April, 2012. The idea came during a local RailsGirls event, a free tech workshop dedicated to an audience of women of all ages and backgrounds. The goal of OTS was to expand this concept of openness to all tech topics and an audience of all genders and experience levels. Given this challenge, hundreds of people joined OTS as coaches, learners, organisers, and sponsors, in eight cities in Europe: Berlin, Bristol, Brussels, Dortmund, Göttingen, Hamburg and London.

OTS’s mission is to make tech education more accessible and inclusive. Programming is often viewed as something inaccessible without many years of university; this is a misconception OTS wants to break. Their events provide opportunities to adults to try coding by working with their peers  in a safe learning environment where volunteer coaches work with small groups.

The core values of OpenTechSchool reflects the spirit of digital social innovation in the field of education: the training materials and all resources are shared with open licenses; the learners are empowered by a progressive learning processes that enables them to become coaches themselves; the guidelines to organise workshops at other organisations are also shared in order to facilitate the creation of a distributed network of similar initiatives. Furthermore, the key concept is to provide a hands-on learning experience in which people create projects in a welcoming learning environment.

OTS promotes non-profit education. Coaches and team members donate their personal time for the greater good of the community and the learners. This approach makes the programs accessible and low-cost.

As OTS has grown, it has become a foundation that aims to provide services and help to nurture the movement more widely. Every node in Europe uses Meetup as main platform for sharing the information about the workshops and the events.

A curated web platform allows people to access all open source materials and teaching resources that are shared on GitHub and translated in many languages.

Case study date: February 2017.



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