In the last few weeks of the Call for Proposals for MozFest 2017, I wanted to share some great examples of sessions and their proposal text from previous festivals to encourage more people to submit an idea, and to help those still editing their proposals.
Mozilla Festival is a moment to connect and collaborate.
For Mozilla, the Festival is a special point in our yearly cycle where we welcome our network from across the globe to come together in a spirit of creative learning. MozFest is a unique opportunity for designers, developers, scientists, educators, policy makers, activists and artists to learn from one another and collaborate under one roof, all while collectively watching something special unfold.
Each year, there emerges a rich sense of comradeship, genuine excitement and real possibility. The agenda is designed to convey that anything can happen within a rich and diverse schedule that evolves dynamically across the three days. Participants flow through the program by moving through the open spaces at Ravensbourne, connecting with people they might not otherwise enjoy the chance to sit beside, chat with in a coffee queue, or collaborate with in a session. It is in the design of those sessions that the real essence of MozFest is propagated.
Over the years there are a few session submissions that have really stood out. The ingenuity of the proposal, the simplicity of the agenda and the focus on the outcome are noteworthy in these cases. Here are some of my favourites:
- Run the Gauntlet — applying crafting skills to skills of Web literacy
- Kitchen Detox Demo- 2016 — driving discussion of the positives and negatives of using the personal data in Internet of Things through cooking demo
- Beautiful Rising — fueling your movement with creative direct action- 2016- using a game to ignite discussion and drive contributions towards positive activism online
What you can observe in those proposals are several key design traits that one can bear in mind when developing session ideas for this year’s Festival…
- Participatory: You want to be engaging and activating your participants from the beginning and getting them making and doing, rather than listening and watching
- Purposeful: Working on meaningful activities toward meaningful outputs
- Productive: Well-scoped so that concrete outcomes are achieved in the allotted time, and participants feel time was well spent
Sessions can manifest in a diverse range of structures and purposes. Those designs might include a gallery wall, game, or hack challenge, and can be constructed in order to generate a manifesto, test a thesis or build a prototype.
Effective sessions at MozFest are not structured as pitches or one-direction information flows. There needs to be multi-directional exchange of sharing, learning, and making. Sessions should be fun and immersive for the facilitator and the participants.
Good sessions are those that maximize connections between the facilitator and the participants, and more importantly between the participants themselves. The facilitator establishes flexible structure that enables participants to interact, co-create and develop outputs, which can then often live on beyond the walls of the festival and the days of the event.
Great sessions include compelling storytelling that weave participants into the narrative. How the story plays out depends on how the participants interact, what they learn and what they contribute.
Sessions rarely play out exactly as facilitators envision, but that is often because with proper framing and guidance, participants can elevate session concepts to new levels. Challenges are welcomed, stakes are raised, much of it powered by post-it notes a-plenty and other creative contributions.
I encourage you to submit your idea for a session for 2017. Take the plunge if you are a first time facilitator, and we will provide plenty of support to help you succeed. Bring your ideas, your projects and your tech — we want to hear from young leaders, seasoned facilitators and those who love to come with an idea and leave with…1000 good reasons to return again.
Special shout out to Aspiration Tech who helped with this post.