TL;DR version: An unconference is an open, educational event where participants propose topics they want to discuss and sign up for topics proposed by others. These self-organizing forums allow for idea-sharing, networking, learning, speaking, demonstrating, and generally interacting with others.
We are quickly gearing up to run our first unconference, and one of the first questions we get is…What is an unconference?
This post is an attempt to share our initial ideas about unconferences to help participants prepare…or unprepare…for their time with us. Below you will find several details that we have been using as we organize events and materials for the Print to Pixel Unconference on August 20th, 2013.
An unconference is a facilitated event where the attendees create the agenda and lead discussions around a theme. – Our unconference will focus on literacy and technology. Specifically, we will have a number of sessions focusing on free Web 2.0 tools for use in K-12, and higher education. In many ways, our work will represent the session you will find at a ChromeCamp.
The session topics are dynamic and decided at the event when participants propose topics they want to discuss and sign up for topics proposed by others. – There really isn’t a structure, or format to an unconference. When participants show up, you’ll be able to post sessions and discussions that you would like to attend on our “scheduling board.” It’s pretty simple…write down a session you’d like to present, we’ll add it to a Google Spreadsheet, and then the room and the time are yours.
Participants follow the unconference Law of Two Feet: If you find yourself not learning or contributing at any time, it is your responsibility to use your two feet to find somewhere you are learning or contributing. – Once the sessions have been posted online, find a session you’re interested in…and attend. Once you’re there, if you’re not interested…or would rather go someplace else…go. Presenters at unconferences need to also follow and respect the “law of two feet” as they develop their sessions.
The governing idea is that the sum knowledge of the participants is greater than that of the people running the event. You just have to provide a structure that lets the ideas blossom. – The main focus of this open, educational event is to provide participants with an opportunity to share, engage, communicate, and connect with other like-minded individuals in the field. It’s a great opportunity to engage in connected, collaborative, and networked learning.
The unconference format is based on the premise that in any professional gathering, the people in the audience—not just those selected to speak on stage—have interesting thoughts, insights, and expertise to share. – Simple put…the power is in the people. Please come and join us.
Please review the following video from Kristen at Edcamp Philly. It does a great join of explaining many of these principles.
Image CC by Reid Beels