IWC Baltimore 2018 – Session Planning Planning

This piece is part of a series of after-action thoughts about the first IndieWebCamp Baltimore.

When planning IWC Baltimore, one of the things I wanted to prioritize was having high-quality discussion sessions on Saturday, to take on issues that attendees have on their minds, and to get their creative juice's going for the Sunday project hack day.

Since sessions are proposed, chosen, and facilitated by attendees, it's not possible to prepare facilitators ahead of time although there are some great guidelines for making a session good-to-excellent.

Aaron, Tantek, and I sat down after IWC Austin to do some (re-)planning of the typical IWC Saturday schedule based on lessons learned in 2017. We had some things in mind:

We mapped out several combinations of time for lunch, session length, break length, expected end-of-day, and even decoy time ("we'll tell them they have 5 minutes when actually they have 10").

Secret schedules in the HTML!

With the constraints that we wanted to break for lunch at noon, and end the day before 6pm, we settled on a schedule of 5 sessions:

To encourage more consistent facilitation, I created a "Running an IndieWebCamp Session" card that we handed out to facilitators encouraging them to assign at least one note taker a time keeper with checks at 10, 5, and 1 minute. The card also included tips on how to kick off the discussion.

SVG facilitation cards, suitable for pen plotting!

Overall I think our planning really paid off. We were able to stick almost entirely to the schedule (very few sessions went over time, and none started late), the day ended on time, and informal feedback suggests that the discussions weren't hampered by the format.

Of course, there were some changes:

I hope these notes are useful for planning future events! Meanwhile, please enjoy the videos and notes from the IWC Baltimore 2018 sessions!


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gRegor Morrill gRegor Morrill at said:

Great job! I think this worked quite well. Session-switching definitely seemed less hurried this way.

Marty McGuire Marty McGuire at said:

For future reference, here’s the SVG used to plot the IWC Baltimore 2018 poster! I also made a smaller version intended to go on the back of the IWC Baltimore session facilitator cards that I described in my session-planning wrap-up.

Marty McGuire Marty McGuire at said:

Baltimore's second Homebrew Website Club of January met at the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center on January 23rd. Here are some notes from the "broadcast" portion of the meetup: martymcgui.re — Been catching up on things since IndieWebCamp! Spent tonight writing the first of several wrap-up posts. Also finally got the weekend's episode of This Week in the IndieWeb Audio Edition up this morning, ~3 days late. Planning to write more specific wrap-ups, open up some old Micropub and IndieAuth...