INBETA updated

The one about Unconferences

Hi there

We're back with the In Beta newsletter (obviously), where we share 3 things you might find interesting or useful. We've taken a few months off, partly to prepare for the Unconference and partly to think about whether this particular experiment is worth continuing. In short, we think it is, so we're going to keep on going, albeit with a few changes.

One of these changes is that we're only going to include related items in each edition so that you can decide immediately if the newsletter is worth taking the time to open. It also helps to keep things interesting through creative constraints. So, considering that we recently wrapped up the 2020 In Beta Unconference we thought that we'd commit this first edition of the new batch to Unconferences.

If you enjoy these newsletters please share them with friends and colleagues, mention them on the interwebs, or print massive posters and put them up at work. And, it's always nice to know that they're not simply being destroyed by your spam filter, so let us know what you think.


Reflecting on the 2019 WCPT conference

Ellis, B., & Rowe, M. (n.d.). Reflections on WCPT and the Unposter (No. 13). In beta podcast.

In this episode, Ben and I talk about our experiences at WCPT 2019, as well as the massive success of the Unposter and what this means for the future of conferences. Not really. But this conversation certainly influenced how we think about conferences in general and, to be honest, it made us question whether or not the “international conference” is something that we’ll be planning around in the future. We think that there are other, cheaper, more effective, and less environmentally damaging ways to meet interesting people. This is also another example of how having an in-depth conversation about a topic has changed our thinking around it.


10 simple rules for organizing an unconference

Budd, A., et al. (2015). Ten Simple Rules for Organizing an Unconference. PLOS Computational Biology, 11(1), e1003905.

Unlike traditional conferences, an unconference is a participant-oriented meeting where the attendees decide on the agenda, discussion topics, workshops, and, often, even the time and venues. The informal and flexible program allows participants to suggest topics of their own interest and choose sessions accordingly. The format provides an excellent opportunity for researchers from diverse disciplines to work collaboratively on topics of common interest. The overarching goal for most unconferences is to prioritize conversation over presentation. In other words, the content for a session does not come from a select number of individuals at the front of the room, but is generated by all the attendees within the room, and, as such, every participant has an important role.

I especially liked this article because it was crowdsourced from people who had attended a variety of different unconferences. See the last page for a short description of how the authors did it.


Host your own Unconference

Seriously. It's dead simple. Here's a list of everything you need:
  1. A few people who are reasonably interested in physiotherapy education.
That's it. That's all you need. The website, mailing lists, Google Docs, video conferencing, etc. are all just supporting mechanisms that facilitate the coming together of a small community of people who like the idea of sitting around and chatting for a few hours.

Here are some basic principles to get you started:
  • Whoever shows up are the right people.
  • Whatever happens, is fine.
  • Whenever it starts is the right time.
  • It is over when it's over.
Let us know how your unconference goes. Good luck!
In far too much online learning, we over-architecture engagement, reducing it to a series of tasks with point values, rather than leaving enough breathing room for organic and intrinsically-motivated community to develop.
Jesse Stommel
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Enjoy the rest of your day,
Ben and Michael