Ronin-IGDORE unconference?

Hello all!

At the Ronin Institute, we have been discussing the idea of having a public-facing conference around mid-year. We’d love to collaborate with IGDORE on this, if there is interest.

Our current thinking (but we are open to ideas!): The topic would be along similar lines as our last year’s unconference “Re-thinking the fundamentals of how we live and work”. It would be a multi-day unconference that would have some kind of specific topic each day, like “Education” or “Future of Work”, and then 1-2 plenary speakers on the topic. It would be open to the public (so charging some minimal registration). We could potentially do at least some of it on Remo that allows for break out groups. The daily sessions would be like 2-3 hours. Perhaps we could do our inbetween chatting on this platform (OS&A). Any thoughts on this? Interest? We’re hoping to have a chance to talk about this the next time we have an org meeting between IGDORE & Ronin (next month).


Comment from @brucecaron :

Concept: Flipping the Plenary: addressing the asymmetry of knowing in the room

20th Century meetings used plenary speakers to a) applaud an honor (prize winner gets to talk), b) broadcast new findings, and c) shape the conversation in the room. But the idea of one person talking and 299 (or 2999) people listening is no longer appropriate not optimal, not for virtual meetings, and also not for in-person meetings in the COVD aftertimes. We do not need to return to the old normal.
We can achieve all of the 20th Century plenary goals with a 21st Century strategy. Solution: Tap the knowledge in the room. Instead of giving a speaker 30-40 minutes to talk, followed by a Q&A mainly dominated by the same folks who like to speak….and speak…. and speak… …. we give the plenary speaker the following: An opportunity to upload their work as a paper before the meeting And/or any video they would like to audience to view. The opportunity to offer 3-5 important questions that their work generates (either pain points or new challenges for them going forward, etc. THE BEST questions they can think of [and we need to get better at asking questions]) 10 minutes LIVE to update their work and prime the room to respond to their questions. When the meeting is all remote, we then break the main room into 6-7 person (random) breakout rooms in 10 minute sprints to answer each question (using Google docs)… When the meeting is in-person, we use round tables in the plenary room as discussion groups, and Google docs (or whatever) to capture answers to the questions. There is a follow-up session (later in the day) with each plenary speaker to discuss the combined answers to their questions. Result: the speaker is rewarded by the attention and knowledge of the room, and the room is rewarded by engaging in real conversation, instead of silence. And with the opportunity to start new knowledge formation, and potential new collaborations.


ESIP did this once before, allowing some NASA/NOAA directors to ask questions. They were really happy with the range of answers they got back.

Using the wisdom of the room was one of the ideas that stuck with me from the OS Handbook, @brucecaron and I’d really enjoy joining a flipped-plenary session to see how it goes.

Otherwise, I’m very excited about another Unconference and would be happy to join the organising team on this. Personally, I expect more interest from IGDORE will come if a few sessions related to aspects of Open Science are included. This would probably depend on the specific topics addressed, but, for example, a session about Open Educational materials sounds like it would fit with the theme.

Related to the ‘Future of work’, maybe it would also be good to have some discussion about ‘alternate’ academic institute models. We’ve seen more interest in IGDORE from traditional academics who’ve faced career difficulties during the pandemic and a few other virtual institutes have also started recently (PiCompS and GIRES come to mind). What’s good practice? What models work well in different circumstances? What’s missing?

The future of work in the academy might open up some discussion on the amount of unpaid labor and asymmetries for emotional labor, etc. Also guaranteed incomes, and perhaps guaranteed housing (with hundreds of colleges shutting down, some of these could become housing/living spaces for independent scholars)… just a thought.

1 Like

You could also perhaps do this or a smaller version of this at AIMOS this year?


Ooooh, I like the idea!

To those who may be new to Aimos, here it is:

And Jason is the Aimos president.

IGDORE and the Ronin Institute have been working together to on the Unconference planning and we are happy to share the:

Scholarship Values Summit: Creating healthier and more equitable systems that support scholarship


Identifying the harmful scholarship-related systems that no longer work for us as scholars, and defining the values to help us create new systems that are healthier and more supportive of our goals as scholars. Specifically:

  1. Identify the scholarship-related systems and actions (education, research, mentorship, publishing, etc.) that scholars participate in that lead to exploitation and harm
  2. Define and propose a set of values for scholarship that can help scholars begin to extract themselves from exploitative and harmful systems, and engage in efforts to develop new systems for scholarship that align better with our values and our current socioeconomic and environmental context.
  3. Develop strategies for communicating and normalizing these stated values and suggested new systems.

Background & Approach

The context for scholarship has changed. The cultural norms and incentives for scholarship today were established during a now-outdated context for traditional academia. Such framing and assumptions no longer work in today’s mainstream academia, let alone among the growing numbers of independent scholars and researchers that operate under different incentives, motivations, and business models.

The Unconference is being co-organized by the Ronin Institute and IGDORE. The diverse backgrounds of scholars at IGDORE and the Ronin Institute and their broader communities can provide perspectives that are relevant to a wide range of scholarship scenarios, from those working independently to those at brick-and-mortar universities. As a community we can move towards better systems for scholarship by first defining the core values that underpin scholarship (the goal of this unconference).

The structure of the Unconference hasn’t yet been finalized, but it is likely to involve a series of small-group discussion stages, each focused on one of the objectives above. Either during those stages or during a final round of synthesis, groups will also focus on the creation of written or visual calls to action that participants can use to communicate their Unconference experience to their networks.

More details to be announced soon (the date will probably be late August). But until then please provide your feedback:

  • Would you be interested in attending this unconference?
  • What do you think of the theme?
  • Feel free to also share your reflections, ideas, and comments!
1 Like