Tag Archives: unconference

Sharing EYC unConference gems

Animated discussion about tech topics around table, at EYC unConferenceSpontaneous. Serendipity. These two words are still echoing in my mind from the wrap-up session of the Engage Your Community (EYC) unConference.

At our closing session last Saturday we asked all the co-learners to shout out words about the day. These ‘s’ words really did capture the spirit of out time together.

It may seem a terrifying prospect to start a learning event with a blank agenda. We didn’t know what would be covered. Who would talk. If people would jump in to learn together.

But jump in everyone did. There seemed barely a wasted minute. Discussion about using tech and the web for community was loud and continuous.

Included in the list of topics covered were Google tools, accessibility, basics of web design, responsive design in wordpress, Chalkle community learning and online collaboration. The full agenda is recorded on the front page of the EYC unConference wiki.

The final session was an experiment: we called it speed geeking. In a fast and furious session people learnt about wikis, blogging and URL shorteners.

The topics for this session were chosen through an impromptu voting exercise, and the ‘presenters’ volunteered to speak on the fly. The format had people moving every 10 minutes between the three topic tables.

Our motto for the day was that no burning question would go unanswered. We’ll have to await for the report on the evaluation forms people filled in to see if we achieved this.

As one of the co-organisers, I left happy. My litmus test of success was whether I enjoyed myself and learnt things, and seeing if people stayed until the end. I maybe biased, but I’d say all were achieved.

As for my own learning, I’ve already been following up on some links. These include to site monitoring services like site247x.com and WordPress emulator called Instant WorldPress, sadly Windows only.

Thanks are due to:

  • Andrena for her work coordinating everything
  • Our volunteers on the day – Keith, Eileen and Justine, all NetSquared Wellington stalwarts
  • Massey University for hosting us
  • Microsoft NZ and Wellington City Council for sponsorship support.

When we debrief about the event next week, our agenda includes the question of when to run another unConference. I’ll report back after we talk. If this is something that you’d like to help with, don’t hesitate to raise your hand.

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We’d love to add more photos to this album – get in touch if you’d like some help sharing.

What’s on the EYC unConference programme?

A wordle that captures essence of 2010 unconferenceAn unConference is unlike your everyday conference. Until the day, we do not know the details of what is going to be covered.

The programme is co-created by participants at the beginning of the event. Everyone attending can run a session.

These can take a myriad of formats: presentations, case studies, interactive workshops or even inviting others to respond to your particular challenge or problem.

While there is not a pre-determined agenda, there is a structure and a theme. At the EYC unConference, on Saturday 22 February at Massey University’s Wellington campus, we’re splitting the day into five sessions, each 50 minutes long. There’s difference spaces available for each session.

Our theme is: finding and using the best of what the web has to offer for people working to make the world a better place.

It’s a crazily broad topic which could touch on everything from resizing images, creating mobile apps, database selection through to high level social media engagement strategy.

Ahead of the event, people registering will have chances to share ideas of the specific topics they want to cover.

Ideas are already bubbling away. One of our co-organisers wants to run a speed geeking session: he envisages people rotating around 3-4 rapid fire presentations on essential web tools and skills. As we’ve access to a theatrette at Massey University, we could open the doors for people to share a favourite #nptech video.

Feeling a little uncertain about participating? Here are some ideas from Scott Berkun in 2006 about “How to run a great unconference session”.

Presented with a blank agenda, along with gentle encouragement, people don’t actually run a mile. They dive in. I’m sure it’ll be the same again next month. Come along.

Register now!!!

Engage Your Community (EYC) unconference, Saturday 22 February 2014

Details at: http://eyc-unconference.wikispaces.com/
Registration just $30 per person: http://engage-your-community-unconference.lilregie.com/

Organised by Wellington ICT in partnership with NetSquared Wellington and Massey University.

EYC unConference – waiting is over

Partially fill agenda maxtrix from the EYC  unConferenceWaiting for the first guests to arrive at a party is always agonising. Nervous glances at the clock as nibbles sit untouched. Glasses empty. Silence. Will anyone come?

At the EYC unConference, held on a glorious spring Saturday, the worry wasn’t so much would people come. But would participants dive into the process of setting the agenda for the day together. Or would people be stand-offish, shuffle awkwardly, avoid eye contact.

I didn’t have to worry. The empty agenda board was almost filled by 10.15 am, with five minutes to go until the first session. The first nine slots were taken, dismissing the rumour that kiwis can be shy about sitting in the first row.

The recipe worked: throw people together, with some priming, then turn it over to the participants. During the day I picked up on several comments about how people were effectively self-moderating the sessions. People were genuinely able to raise questions, queries and concerns.

When we held a casual wrap-up session at 3.50pm, energy levels were still high. The conversation flowed, and there was lots of good natured banter.

EYC unConference Wordle - a jumble of words from the closing session Our impromptu Wordle – co-created during the closing session to reflect what people had got out of the day – really demonstrated in my mind the good match between community, voluntary people and the unConference format. We’d achieved both a lot of sharing and participation.

It was obvious during the day that people also rose to our scene setting speaker Alexandra Lutyens’ challenge to have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously she urged.

As the day closed, although weary from facilitating (and being a horn honking shepherd) I was already talking about organising a future event and more networking. Whatever the pre-event nerves, I’ve no qualms about being involved in another unConference.

EYC unConference: growing before our eyes

There’s something really addictive about being involved in an event that grows before your eyes. As the organiser for the Engage your community (EYC) unConference I can’t help myself from looking at the list of potential topics to see if anyone has added anything new.

Today a new topic suggestion arrived on the wiki: a question about whether Google Apps will help a residents association consolidate its large list of online tools. Amongst the other topics suggested, some of them are equally as big.

We’re envisaging that whoever turns up on the day will shine some light on the topics people are suggesting.

The format is classic barcamp (which I first wrote excitedly about in May 2007, see “Fogged in after the Govis 2007 conference”): everyone attending generates the programme on the day, filling available sessions with topics that are important to them.

However, we’ve changed the name. We don’t think barcamp (or it’s siblings cloudcamp, wordcamp, etc) means anything amongst the volunteer webmasters and others working in community and voluntary organisations using the web we’re aiming to attract.

As well as half a dozen topics, 25 have people signed up. We’ve got room for 100 more so feel free to register now.

As I’ve subscribed to get updates in my RSS reader from the unConference wikispace, I’ll be the first to know if a new topics is listed. Time to go now to feed my addiction.

EYC unConference details: Saturday 21 August 2010, Wellington Whanganui-a-tara. Hosted by Wellinton ICT, charitable trust.

Our cup runneth over – social media barcamp

Get 40 communicators in a room and try and stop them talking. At the ideasshop social media barcamp yesterday things ran over time because the conversation did overfloweth.

The format was simple: 16 slots for people to run impromptu 20 minute sessions about something they’ve learnt about social media or to raise burning questions. After a slow start the board was full of a range of topics. Participants included communications people from government agencies, businesses and NGOs, a few Massey University students, plus freelancers like me. There was a firm rule that nobody use the afternoon for solicitation.

I talked about a dilemma that CommunityCentral faces – we want people to come to our platform, but there is heaps of competition (from things like Google Groups, Yahoo groups, etc) which is much slicker.

The response was very clear:  the uniqueness of CommunityCentral being a local platform, aimed at a very distinct audience is its real strength. People who sign up are not dealing with a huge multinational corporate who are completely disinterested in what each organisation is actually doing (unless of course it’s illicit or objectionable). Instead people are coming to a platform aimed at everyone involved in tangata whenua, community and voluntary organisations in Aotearoa. It’s localness could mean you’ll actually come across people you know.

This perspective from communications people entirely removed from the project underlines a key promotional angle. We’re local, we’re friendly, we’re just like you. It’s good timing to hear this. We’re on the final stretch preparing two additional features for public release, namely private workspaces and discussion networks. The countdown is on.

I picked up on efforts by a few ngos to use social media:

  • two Massey University students helped create a video for Parkinsons NZ and upload it to YouTube
  • Wellington SPCA have included a blog on their visually attractive website – just for news at this stage, but turning on comments is being considered
  • Living Every Moment is an online campaign run by Hospice NZ to encourage people to create and send a “moment” to a special person.

The willingness to share between communicators was neat. I’m hoping Emma will organise another camp out.

On a parting note, I’ll rise to Emma’s challenge that we embody being good communicators and unashamedly plug the companies that gave away some promotional stuff for a ‘goody bag’ each participant received. Hat’s off to teza juiced teas, wagamama, service printers, trilogy and dusted and delicious catering.