Posted in Blog News

11 things I learned …

… while planning and during #vcsscamp

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1. Starting with a good team with a blend of skills and a gender balance is important. Pauline, Paul and I found it easy to work together, even though we had some quite complicated things to think and talk through. This was probably mainly down to our shared vision and the different things we had to bring to the planning and organising, making it simple to allocate tasks as there were natural takers. Pauline insisted on a majority female organising group, for good reason.
 
This blog view stats at 25 June 2013
This blog view stats at 25 June 2013

2. Having an event blog (this thing you are reading now) is really worth it. Despite my concerns that people don’t engage much on blogs, we generated 19 comments from 7 people (including me and Pauline), 12 people followed the blog, our main page had 657 hits and overall the site had 1292 views by the end of the day of the unconference.

3. It is helpful to involve participants in a very active way in the pre-conference discussion. Over a few tweets on a Friday afternoon I invited my colleague Eileen (@EileenFielding2) to contribute a guest post and it was by far the most popular post on this site with 73 views, 3 likes and a good conversation in the replies.

4. I want to learn more about WordPress Multisites and will probably use them! Thanks Duncan (@TawdryMe)

5. Much as I am averse to chalk and talk style instruction, showing a group of 8 or so people around Storify was actually a lot of fun. Hopefully it was a teacher-student / student-teacher interaction thanks to use of Google searches to find answers to questions about whether Storify could reverse the chronology of content (yes) or have more than one curator per account (we concluded no). And thanks to @francisclarke happily sharing both his story and his use of Storify in a most engaging way.

6. It really works having people who are new to social media in a room with people who are more familiar with it and wanting to push their organisations on to the next thing. The discussion topics were great and varied (see below) and I think everyone got something useful from the day.

 
VCSS timetable
 
7. Unconferences are surprisingly liberating for those who haven’t experienced open space before. The majority at VCSS Camp hadn’t attended an unconference before and their feedback on the process was fantastic. For example:
 

“I liked the process for setting the agenda”
“The un-agenda let to some really interesting discussions”
“I liked the relaxed way the day has worked”
“The format was very enabling”
“The format has been fab, very open and laid back atmosphere”
“I liked the ‘free form’ of the event – informality really breeds free discussion”

 
8. There are lots of people out there in organisations like mine who I hadn’t yet/haven’t yet connected to on twitter. I’ve started following at least 15 more people on twitter as a result of VCSS Camp, and no doubt there will be more connections yet to come.
 
9. Organising this in my own time made it more fun and more relaxing than if I’d done it as part of my job. (Though I am very fortunate that my job is also great fun most of the time.)
 
10. Tweetwally is a nice alternative to Visible Tweets, partly because it supports some images and partly because it’s a bit easier for people who don’t use twitter and might find the onslaught of @’s and #’s a bit overwhelming and like something written in Klingon. Tweetwally felt much calmer and simpler to take in.
 
11. Writing a numbered list of things is a useful and simple way of gathering a few thoughts together and sharing them after something like an unconference. I’ve learned this from reading blogs posts by the amazing and encouraging @danslee  (e.g. GOAL! @9 good things and a poor football anecdote from #localgovcamp 2012) and the creative and wonderful @lloyddavis (e.g. 10 (OK 11) things about #bigpix #bigpictureday)
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Author:

Using design to make magic through @colabdudley @aplaceto_ | Curator @dofestdudley | Dudley CVS officer | RSA Public Services & Communities Fellowship Cllr

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