How do I propose a session?

Once you register for your THATCamp and are approved, you will receive a user account on the THATCamp website. You should receive your login information by email. Before the THATCamp, you should log in to the THATCamp 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, all THATCamp participants will vote on those proposals (and probably come up with several new ones), and then all together will work out how best to put those sessions into a schedule.

Remember that you will be expected to facilitate the sessions you propose, so that 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 or find a teacher; 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 the discussion going, and end the discussion.

When do I propose a session?

You can propose a session as early as you like, but most people publish their session proposals to the THATCamp site during the week before the THATCamp begins. It’s a good idea to check the THATCamp site frequently in the week beforehand (perhaps by subscribing to its RSS feed with an RSS reader such as Google Reader) to see and comment on everyone’s session proposals. You can also come up with a last-minute idea and propose it to the THATCamp participants during the scheduling session, which is the first session of the THATCamp.

Why are sessions proposed this way?

Proposing sessions just before a THATCamp and building a schedule during the first session of a THATCamp ensures that sessions are honest and informal, that session topics are current, and that unconference participants will collaborate on a shared task. 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.

See the About page for more information on the philosophy of unconferences.

What do I propose?

There are roughly four things people do in THATCamp sessions: Talk, Make, Teach, and Play. Sometimes one session contains elements of all these, but it’s also a fair taxonomy for THATCamp sessions. In a Talk session proposal, you offer to lead a group discussion on a topic or question of interest to you. In a Make session proposal, you offer to lead a small group in a hands-on collaborative working session with the aim of producing a draft document or piece of software. In a Teach session, you offer to teach a skill, either a “hard” skill or a “soft” skill. In a Play session, anything goes — you suggest literally playing a game, or you suggest some quality group playtime with one or more technologies, or what you will.

Talk session examples

Make session examples

Teach session examples

Play session examples

17 Responses to Propose

  1. Libby Escobedo says:

    I’m a Medievalist Art Historian and in the Middle Ages, a class of students used the same book, annotating the common text in the margins. This meant not only did students have access to the original text, but also the questions, comments, and opinions of their classmates. What if we could recreate this in digital format, essentially a e-text with editable commentary from multiple uses, with the comments aligned with the text upon which they comment?

    • Libby. I am an art professor at Carroll University. I have also taught art history (prehistoric to 1500). I would love to discuss more with you the idea of making the student comments and questions digital.

      • Avatar of Alan Benson Alan Benson says:

        I’ve been talking with some other folks about tools that we could use to allow for commentary to be presented alongside a core text, and for comments to be commented upon in turn (our model is the Talmud). I’d be interested in talking with you about your project.

  2. John Garrison says:

    I’d be interested in a hands-on session around “making texts come alive using digital tools.” I’m thinking our session could all take a text (a speech, a sonnet, whatever) and find as many ways to explore it as possible (word clouds, using image archives, mapping etymologies, etc.). This would be helpful for both my teaching (coming up with possible assignments, classroom activities) or even my research.

    This would fall in either the MAKE or PLAY categories.

  3. Avatar of Alan Benson Alan Benson says:

    I direct a writing center, and we have recently introduced an online component to our consulting. Online writing centers are not new–some schools did email and gopher-based consulting in the ’90s–but as a field we are still figuring out the most effective ways of working. Email-based sessions are often one-sided and feel like grading, which text chat-based sessions are slow. Even sessions using webcams or audio feel a bit “off.” We have developed some strategies to increase the effectiveness of our online consultations by foregrounding the human connection and fostering a sense of intimacy and connection, but both writers and writing assistants have said they feel more distant and less comfortable in online sessions. I would be interested in talking about how we can foster feelings of presence and engagement in online spaces–how we can be “there” for another person even when we are physically separated. We do this in face-to-face sessions, where we may actually be very different in terms of beliefs and values, but it seems harder to foster closeness online. While this question obviously comes from a writing center-focused mindset, I think anyone working with online classes or online collaboration could find something to contribute.

  4. Extending the Liberal Arts with Digital Public Projects

    For this “make” session, colleagues from Alverno College (Jeff Desannoy, Jodi Eastberg & Jennifer Mikulay) invite collaborators to join in creating an online guide to student-centered liberal arts projects that leverage new media and create positive civic effects. The guide we will create will focus on three frameworks: 1) classroom-based activities that use social media, 2) community collaborations enhanced by new media, and 3) projects that extend liberal arts education to wider publics. We invite collaborators from a range of academic disciplines, institutional settings, community interests and professional arenas. We will use either Google Docs or a Wikispaces site to create and share the guide.

    We are experienced with designing and leading publicly-oriented digital projects in which students create video for Wikipedia, curate local history resources using blogs, and share work using Creative Commons licenses–we’d like to build on this and build a collaborative network.

  5. I would, like to explore technologies related to scenery, lighting and projections (specifically computer controlled auotmation systems and graphic programming environments), which result in more effective and efficient scene changes and lighting effects which will enhance rather than overwhelm the performance. Our spring 2014 bilingual production will communicate storyline and cultural nuances without dialogue. Digital technology—multi-media and projections—will be critical devices to convey the storyline within its cultural contexts.

    What are the latest computer software programs for Theatre productions?

    I have read about Creative Conners System, which moves scenic elements through computer control.

    And Isadora Interactiive Software, a dual-platform graphic programming environment that provides interactive control over digital media, with special emphasis on real-time manipulation of digital video.

    Are there other technologies?

    What are some cost-effective computer controlled automation systems for scenic projections?

    How can digital technology enhance audience engagement as an active audience as opposed to the passive audience of traditional theatre?

    What are the most prudent choices of using technological innovations to enhance the performance text rather than to detract (or distract) from it?

  6. I am interested in a TALK or MAKE session on how to create interactive projects based on primary sources. How can students research, analyze, and then teach that resource to fellow students? What is important for them to understand about a primary resource in order to truly value it as a knowledge artifact?

    • Jodi Eastberg says:

      I really like that you’ve framed this within a peer-to-peer learning model. There seem to be a lot of possibilities in how to approach this activity that would enhance students’ understandings of documents or artifacts. Thanks for suggesting!

  7. Nathaniel Ogden Kidd says:

    I’m interested in leading a TALK session on international relationships with educational or research institutions in the developing world for collaboration, research and/or teaching partnerships. I would like to hear about the extent and structure of such relationships at various institutions, and how technology is being used or might be used to mediate and enhance these relationships.

  8. Declan Boran-Ragotzy says:

    I am interested in discovering how technology is used by a wide variety of individuals to bully colleagues, staff, and students causing a negative, unsupportive and often times intolerable academic environment across all disciplines and community engagement programs.

    Primary questions include:

    What are common red flags that exist among all academic disciplines and programs that point toward cyber bullying?

    How and why are these bullying tactics untraceable/unverifiable?

    In what ways can colleagues, staff, and students use the same technology resources to foster a positive environment that promotes collaboration which enriches the academic as well as the general community?

    I hope to explore ways to establish a positive community relationship in the academic and community settings in a technology-savvy and efficient manner.

    By the end of this session, attendees will gain a better understanding of cultural sensitivity while mastering creative methods to practice inclusion in a technology friendly atmosphere.

  9. Avatar of Susan Nusser Susan Nusser says:

    Skills, tools and resources for multimedia storytelling:

    I’d like to propose a “play” session in which participants explore web tools and internet resources for creating multimedia stories. The goal of this session would be not only to create a directory of excellent, user-friendly resources, but also to identify and articulate how uses with a range of technological skills search and use those resources.

  10. I would like to propose a “talk” session about open data. The importance of open data was demonstrated dramatically in April, when PhD candidate Thomas Herndon discovered a spreadsheet error that undermined the influential 2010 findings of economists Reinhart and Rogoff, which had been used to justify austerity policies worldwide. As humanities researchers are increasingly making arguments based on large collections of data and algorithms used to analyze them, what principles should guide our decisions about whether and how to share our data and code? What are the risks of doing so, and how can we protect our own research while also making our results available for reproduction and/or critique?

  11. Jenna Villanova says:

    The Prezi Presentation

    I propose a “talk” session to explore the uses of Prezi, a more intuitive way to present information than PowerPoint. Prezi permits visualization of structure, collaboration, and incorporation of music + videos. Prezis can be saved and shared to a network for recycling and rethinking ideas. If interest exists, I would also like a part II “teach” session building on how to create music for a presentation.

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