Some have referred to the OTJ Summer Sessions as a conference. However, the coordinators feel that this is not quite accurate, as it differs from traditional conferences in several ways. So what is this event?
Well, it’s a M.O.O.Se!
Q: What is a MOOSe?
A: Normally an overgrown deer commonly found in Canada, of course! But in this context it refers to Massively Open Online Sessions.
Q: What makes a MOOSe different from a conference?
A: Well there are several differences, but the biggest one would have to be the Distributed Organisation. Where a conference has organisers who set the session types, make a call for submissions, vet the submissions, populate the schedule, send out acceptance notifications etcetera, in a MOOSe, this organisation is distributed to the community. The coordinators’ main role is to help all the different members of the community coordinate their contributions.
Q: What are the core values of a MOOSe?
- Openness – Open to anyone to lead a session and/or participate
- Distributed Organisation – The community chooses what sessions are held, what format the sessions take, and who leads them.
- Mutual Respect and Acceptance – Nobody’s experience is invalid. Everyone’s own story is their unique perspective on our world. Hence, all sessions are accepted.
- That the social experience is not a side benefit of these sessions; instead the social experience is an integral part of the sessions. The interactivity between the audience and the leaders is not like that between the vetted instructor at a conference and his passive listeners. In a MOOSe the audience is often invited to be part of the live knowledge creation experience. There are no tablets to be handed down from the mountain. All opinions and experiences are valid. All have a voice, no one is THE expert. All participate to create solutions.
Q: What about vetting presentations?
A: There is none. One aspect of a MOOSe is that it’s completely Open. This means that the only vetting that is done, is done by the community when they choose sessions to attend. If you wish to have a session on obscure comic books from the 1970s at 2AM on Thursday morning, let us know and we’ll schedule it! It may not have many attendees, but you’re free to run a session however you choose.
Q: What session types are there?
A: The only limit to this is your imagination. If you wish to hold a roundtable discussion, awesome. If you want to show slides and talk about your experiences, also cool. If you want to hold an unconference where you probe the community for ideas, fantastic. Nobody’s going to tell you how to lead your session, so feel free to get creative.
Q: How long are sessions?
A: I’m sure the pattern is becoming apparent, but as long or short as you like.
Q: I missed that comic book session, oh no…
A: Well, that’s not technically a question, but we’re hoping to use Zoom for the OTJ Summer Sessions and record sessions so that they can at least be viewed afterwards if not joined in real-time.
Q: How do you ensure diversity amongst your session leaders?
A: We (i.e. the coordinators) don’t. This aspect of the OTJ Summer Sessions has attracted some criticism, but ultimately this is up to the community. The MOOSe is completely Open for anyone to participate and nobody will be rejected. So, it’s up to the community to pass the word around and encourage people from a diverse range of backgrounds to lead sessions.
Q: Is that enough?
A: Well, which is better; having one or two conference organisers deciding what constitutes the meaning of “diversity issues”, or a whole community considering these issues and being empowered and encouraged to take action to improve things? For the OTJ Summer Sessions, the community did speak up and diversity improved. I’d call that a win.
Q: I’d like to see a session about X or by <someone>, can I request one?
A: Even better, you can lead one. Or you can invite someone you know to lead one. This is what we mean by “open.”
Q: MOOSe sounds like MOOC, is there a connection?
A: Yes there is. MOOCs are Massively Open Online Courses and share the same principles of openness and also reap the benefits of the online platform. In trying to describe this event format, it seemed fitting to have a similar sounding name. Also, one of the coordinators of the OTJ Summer Sessions, José is a Canadian and so he has a soft spot for meese, eh.
Q: The plural for moose is “moose,” not “meese” you hoser!
A: Also not a question, but I stand corrected; one moose, two moose, red moose, blue moose.
Q: Sounds great, I want to participate. When is the deadline for submissions?
A: There isn’t one. However, given that we don’t possess time travel technology, it is currently difficult for us to schedule sessions for time slots in the past. The sooner your session gets scheduled, the more we can publicize it before the session.
Q: When will the final schedule be published?
A: After the event. Anything until then is subject to change.
Q: I want to do a session for Thursday night, but there’s already a session scheduled there, what should I do?
A: Talk with the coordinators and we’ll try our best to get you a slot. We’re hoping to avoid having concurrent presentations, but if it comes down to it, we value openness over the lack of concurrent sessions.
Q: I’m tempted, but feel underqualified to present.
A: Nonsense! You’re alive aren’t you? And you, like the rest of us experienced the past 6 months from your unique perspective didn’t you? Your story is just as valid as anyone else’s.
Q: Will room coordinators (RCs) be provided for my session?
A: Not by the coordinators, but our community is full of people happy to help. As part of the distributed organisation of the sessions, if you wish to have an RC, please invite someone to be the RC for your team’s session. Alternatively, you can simply be the RC of your own session, or take turns with the other members of your team. If all else fails, the coordinators will help set something up.
Q: Can I volunteer to be an RC?
A: Sure, just contact the session leaders directly and offer your services. I’m sure some will be only too happy to receive such an offer.
Q: Who is running this event?
A: We ALL are, you included. Welcome to the team and thanks for helping make it a success.
AJ & JDC
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