How Does Unconference Work?
Every year, IdentityNORTH has split our annual conference program into two distinct days: conference and “unconference”. It is a new concept for many attendees, but one that often provides the most value.
We believe it’s important to apply new models to typical conferences, with a focus on maximizing collaboration and facilitating the sharing and cross-pollination of ideas – especially when our subject matter relies so heavily on innovation.
So what exactly is an unconference? How do participants benefit and why should you stick around for day 2 of IdentityNORTH? Find out below!
What is Unconference?
Unconference flips the traditional conference on its head and places the audience at the centre of the discussion. Instead of stage-driven content run from a set program, the unconference is organically created by audience members who become active participants by establishing the topics most important to them. The audience-run sessions bring together experts and enthusiasts from diverse sectors to share their ideas and tackle the toughest questions.
To start the day, the facilitator will invite participants to set the topics they want to explore within major themes. Topics may be broad questions, specific challenges, or opportunities that have been identified within the field. Everyone is invited to share their thoughts and contribute.
Once the topics have been collected, they are grouped into themes and organized so that participants can design their own path. Participants select sessions that are most relevant to them and have the opportunity to join or leave as they choose to gain the most value from the experience. This self-directed learning and discovery allows ad-hoc sessions to emerge and evolve throughout the day.
How do participants benefit?
Participants get to create the agenda and effectively set the standards for what they want to discuss, learn, and share. Whether it’s an industry breakthrough that happened overnight or a product release a team has been struggling with for months – no subject is too big or too small.
The IdentityNORTH audience is a community of leading executives from major organisations, small businesses, and the public sector. Tough questions are met with answers from a wide range of perspectives and take into account the unique concerns and considerations that each stakeholder in the digital identity ecosystem must face.
The unconference is a great opportunity to get feedback, explore ethical implications, learn about new trends, and offer insightful expertise. This cooperative approach means that Canadian digital identity professionals get a chance to build meaningful relationships and recognize the diversity of our community to create a more inclusive and collaborative digital economy.
How has unconference worked in the past?
Every unconference is different but the results have always been inspiring. One year, a blockchain 101 session attracted the majority of people, leading to an impromptu basics course on the emerging technology. On another occasion, a deep conversation about credential authentication emerged, leading to a new partnership between participants. The possibilities are limitless!
What if I’m new to the community and don’t have a lot to share?
All voices need to be heard to make meaningful progress toward digital identity. Experience levels do not necessarily directly align to value in unconference sessions. Asking the right questions and bringing a fresh perspective to those who are leading the community are extremely valuable! All you need to do to contribute is to be curious, be respectful, and be bold in exploring innovative approaches to digital identity.
How do I get the most value from unconference?
In order to get the most from the unconference day, we recommend coming prepared to share your most pressing questions, thorny challenges, and moonshot solutions. Keep a notebook handy on day 1 of the conference, or take notes in your phone as questions arise or you notice trends emerging. Highlight the areas you want to learn more about and branch out during the sessions – sometimes the less popular topics can lead to the most intimate discussions and actionable outcomes! Ultimately, it’s up to you: design your experience and set some personal goals for yourself. Whether it’s connecting with five new people or finally cracking your service delivery challenges, the unconference can help you expand your mindset and skill set.