Propose a session

How do I propose a session?

Once you register for THATCamp OSU and are approved, we’ll make you a user account on this site. You should receive your login information by email. Before the THATCamp, you should log in to the site, click on Posts –> Add New, then write and publish your session proposal. Your session proposal will appear on the front page of this site, and we’ll all be able to read and comment on it beforehand. (If you haven’t worked with WordPress before, see for help.) The morning of the event, we’ll vote on those proposals (and probably come up with several new ones), and then all together we’ll work out how best to put those sessions into a schedule.

What do I propose?

Session genres

  1. General discussion— Sometimes people just want to get together and talk informally, with no agenda, about something they’re all interested in. Nothing wrong with that; it’s certainly a much better way of meeting people than addressing them from behind a podium. Propose a session on a topic that interests you, and if other people are interested, they’ll show up to talk about it with you.
  2. Writing session — A group of people get together to start writing something. Writing can be collaborative or parallel: everyone can work together (probably in Google Docs) or by themselves (yet with a writing vibe filling the air) to write an article, a manifesto, a book, a blog post, a plan, or what you will.
  3. Working session — You’re working on something, and you suspect that some of the various people who come to THATCamp might be able to help you with it. You describe problems you want solved and questions you want answered, and strangers magically show up to hear about what you’re doing and to give you their perspective and advice. This is not an hour-long demo; you should come with specific questions or tasks you want to work on with others for most of the session.
  4. Workshop — A traditional workshop session with an instructor who leads students through a short introduction to and hands-on exercise in a particular skill. If you would like to organize a workshop on a particular topic, but don’t feel qualified to lead it yourself, contact the organizers for help identifying an instructor.
  5. Grab bag — Ah, miscellany. One of our favorite categories. Indefinable by definition. It’s astonishing how creative people can be when you give them permission; performances and games are welcome.

No papers, no presentations

An unconference, in Tom Scheinfeldt’s words, is fun, productive, and collegial, and at THATCamp, therefore, “[W]e’re not here to listen and be listened to. We’re here to work, to participate actively.[…] We’re here to get stuff done.” Listen further:

Everyone should feel equally free to participate and everyone should let everyone else feel equally free to participate. You are not students and professors, management and staff here at THATCamp. At most conferences, the game we play is one in which I, the speaker, try desperately to prove to you how smart I am, and you, the audience member, tries desperately in the question and answer period to show how stupid I am by comparison. Not here. At THATCamp we’re here to be supportive of one another as we all struggle with the challenges and opportunities of incorporating technology in our work, departments, disciplines, and humanist missions.

Session proposers are session facilitators

If you propose a session, you should be prepared to run it. If you propose a hacking session, you should have the germ of a project to work on; if you propose a workshop, you should be prepared to teach it; if you propose a discussion of the Digital Public Library of America, you should be prepared to summarize what that is, begin the discussion, keep it going, and end it. But don’t worry — with the possible exception of workshops you’ve offered to teach, THATCamp sessions don’t really need to be prepared for; in fact, we infinitely prefer that you don’t prepare.

At most, you should come with one or two questions, problems, or goals, and you should be prepared to spend the session working on and working out those one or two points informally with a group of people who (believe me) are not there to judge your performance. Even last-minute workshops can be terrifically useful for others if you know the tool or skill you’re teaching inside and out. As long as you take responsibility for running the session, that’s usually all that’s needed. See the book Open Space Technology for a longer discussion of why we don’t adopt or encourage more structured forms of facilitation.

3 Responses to Propose a session

  1. Pingback: Proposing sessions FAQ | THATCamp Ohio State University

  2. Pingback: Proposing Sessions FAQ – part two | THATCamp Ohio State University

  3. Dickie Selfe says:

    These are my sketchy notes from the National Digital Storytelling (NdstA) Archive session:

    I talked about the growing use of dst in pedagogy, oral history, community writing efforts across the nation. Joe Lambert’s (Director of Center for DST) efforts for over a decade to encourage dst. Tons of content is being created but there is no place to archive that is open access (like the Knowledge Bank here at OSU).

    [In a previous conversation with Louie Ulman, he suggested contacting the Library of Congress and talking with them about the StoryCorp archive. Still plan to.]

    The hope would be to create mechanisms with reasonably simple submission/archival [with a preservation plan]/and streaming-access. Johnathan Rush (Geography PhD student) is working on a mapping/spacialized interface for the Hilltop project, for instance that would pull media and metadata from the current KB archive and OSU streaming server).

    I used my Hilltop Stories from that Columbus neighborhood as an example. Some samples are on the Knowledge Bank (, search for “Hilltop Stories.”

    The system, once set up, could be duplicated for other archival purposes. An example of in-class videos for new and training teachers was described. But also for folklore and other narrative oriented disciplines.

    Questions to concern yourself with:
    What constitutes a dst will need to be hashed out with the principle people and submitters eventually. Who will review the content submitted?

    Certain to grow, what media might the NdstA contain? Any one project might contain images, textual material, video, audio, other artifacts?

    What are the essential metadata components that might you require/request?

    How can the materials be (1) easily found (2) assigned CR (3) made available for re-use & mashup? The NdstA might be the preservation area but the real use of the stories is in their accessibility through local web presence (online newspapers and school web sites), sophisticated mapping interfaces, online gaming systems, neighborhood orgs., etc.

    The Knowledge Bank (KB) representatives suggested that

    The KB is interested in talking about the project. They have a long list of requests to consider in addition.
    It’s more likely that one place hosting the whole thing that a consortia of archival sites might collaborate on something this ‘potentially’ big.
    Perhaps this should start with a series of neighborhood and Ohio archive portals and grow outward after a proof of concept is built.
    There is the challenge of pulling artifacts and metadata from multiple sites and multiple archival systems (not just dSpace) into our imagined mapping/spatialization site.
    In terms of intellectual property, the KB asks for non-exclusive rights to publish materials. They will embargo materials for up to 5 years (i.e. journals publishing current articles)
    Also talked about making stuff available to Google and Google scholar spiders

    I walked away promising that I (Dickie Selfe) would put together an program-level IRB so that the archive could be trusted and used for scholarship. After that I’ll pull the useful information from that and propose a project to the KB and set up some meetings.

    Dr. Richard (Dickie) Selfe
    Director, Center for the Study and Teaching of Writing
    125 S. Oval Dr.
    485 Mendenhall Labs
    tOhio State University
    Columbus, Ohio 43210
    614-546-6854 (primary, cell)

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