Unconferences allow participants to take control of the conference. Participants get to propose, vote on, and run sessions themselves. This enables peer-to-peer learning, collaboration and diverse session types and topics.
Sessions can be proposed and voted on before and during the conference. Even if a session doesn’t happen, hosts will find people interested in their session to collaborate with following OpenCon.
Propose a session
Sessions can be proposed before or during the conference by any participants. They’ll be added to a running list with facilitators. A standard in-person session is one hour long.
- Every session will be given a document to take notes, and in-person sessions will be given post-it notes, markers, FlipChart paper and Role Cards. Sessions could be livestreamed using Periscope or similar if desired.
- At the end of sessions, participants will be encouraged to note down one immediate next step (e.g email participants), and one outcome that could emerge from their session.
- There is no right way to do a session but a bias towards interaction and discussion is healthy.
- You don't need to do preparation in order to convene a session.
- We strongly encourage session submissions from a diverse group of participants, both in terms of background and experience (e.g women, non-native english speakers, newcomers etc), and will do our best to offer support to those of feel they need it.
Below are some ideas for the types of sessions that could be done, but chose a format (even if it's not the list) which supports what you'd like to do.
- Group discussion: someone picks a topic they’re interested in, writes it on the board, and forms an interesting discussion around it.
- Hacking and project sprints: make something, contribute to something (e.g the Open Research Glossary)
- Learn about, or how to do X. If you’re inclined to teach, this can be simple and awesome. Just make sure you bring whatever gear you need, and that you have some plan for teaching 5, 10 or 15 people how to do something all at the same time.
- Project Talk: This is tricky, as the basic format is low-interactive. But if you’re a rock star, or have a big, well-developed idea (a book in progress, a manifesto) you can pull this off. If only 10 people show, you should switch gears to something more interactive.
Advice to attendees and session leads
- Go with the flow – This event is intended to help you and all the other grantees find the time and space to talk with and learn from each other.
- Follow your passion – Go to the sessions that interest you.
- Take responsibility for your own learning – If there are topics you are really interested in that don’t appear on the agenda at first, you need to put them on there.
- Use the rule of two feet. If as session isn't right for you, use your two feet and leave.
- Ask for help holding the space if you need it. You might, for example, put a session on the board and know that you are so passionate about the topic that it would be better if someone else, someone more objective, facilitates the discussion. Choose someone from your team, or another participant who is interested in the topic.
- Don’t assume people in the room know more, or less, than you do. You never know who is going to be interested in your session. You might want to start by asking people to hold up their hands if they’ve been involved with the topic for more than five years, for one to five years, or for one year or less.
- Don’t be upset if only two people show up to your session. Those two people are the ones who share your interest.
- Don’t feel that you have to “fill” up an hour of time. If what you have to say only takes 15 min and the group has finished interacting–then the session can end.
- Be Brave! Others are interested in making your session work!
- Do think about the ideas that you want to cover in your session, and how you want to cover them. But don’t feel as though you need to prepare a great deal.
- Experiment with the kind of sessions you lead.
Voting and Agenda
Sessions will be decided based on the total number of people who hit “attending” on Sched. You should assign votes on sessions you’d be interested in hearing about, and you have an unlimited number of votes. This means that if a session isn’t able to run at OpenCon, a host can still get in touch with you to discuss the topic.
You can filter for unconference sessions using the sidebar.