Alan Bush came up to me at ISSST2013 and asked me what I thought of have an UNsession at ISSST2014. As he explained it, the session wouldn’t have an agenda — just an overall theme. The agenda would then be formulated by the participants, on the spot.
I loved it.
I said, “Alan, I want you to submit an UNabstract for your UNsession next Fall when we release the next Call for Papers. Take a whole morning or afternoon, if you need it, and propose to produce some sort of product from it that can be shared with others.”
Alan tells me that this approach is called Open-Space Technology, and that it typically uses a bulletin board or some other approach for creating a marketplace or exchange for ideas.
I think many of us have probably experienced group brainstorming sessions where we use sketch pads and sticky notes to try and organize the collective ideas of the group. At ISSST2013, Alan demonstrated something a little different called PollEverywhere, in which the audience uses cell phones to text message answers to a survey question, with the results of the survey appearing on the screen in real time. The results of Alan’s poll are here:
In a recent email, Alan explained how a real-time technology like this might be incorporated into a Open Space session at ISSST2014:
As a follow up to our polling experiment, I would suggest the following if you were to attempt to do this at 2014:
- Ask presenters to submit 1-3 questions for the audience to respond to.
- Questions get projected on a separate smaller screen, so the presenter doesn’t have to be responsible for it during the presentation. This obviously requires more equipment.
- All questions get routed through the same platform, like poll everywhere. This allows for some aggregation of data. See below for further possibilities.
- have a general question or two for the audience to respond to. This would allow for cross-case comparison on things like: did you find this presentation insightful? What larger questions this presentation bring up for you? What could the presenter do to present the content more clearly?
- When this was done at a conference at UT, the convener for each session would post questions between each on the main screen.
Thanks again, and I hope to be in touch.
- Unconference 101: A Quick Guide to TCamp and Beyond (sunlightfoundation.com)
- Think Space Unconference (kongres-magazine.eu)
- PgConUnconferenceFAQ (wiki.postgresql.org)
- Smart, Creative and Relevant Concepts for a New (kongres-magazine.eu)