I previously posted about Contingency plans for disasters when organising an event. On a less drastic scale, what approaches can event organisers take when a facilitator becomes unavailable at the last minute?

I tried to cater for this at the IWMW 2007 event by preparing an “unconference” session (although the term “unworkshop” is probably more appropriate) based on various ideas developed my myself, Graham Atwell and Steven Warburton for an unconference session at a recent JISC Emerge event.

The details of the session are available. In brief they suggest the following possibilities:

  • The ten minute slot: Ten minute presentations of work and ideas in progress – possibility followed by discussions
  • Critical enquiry: Present an idea for a project, a software tool, etc. and be prepared for a critique from an expert panel (made up of other participants)
  • Poster time: Another ten minute slot for you to explain ideas provided on a poster
  • Ask an expert: Request that someone else introduces on a topic you wish to learn something about.
  • The rant: A controversial view expressed, leading to discussions which might not normally take place.
  • ‘Gong show’: Participants may introduce and discuss own ideas for a short, specified period of time. A gong is rung when the time is over.

I think for future events I organise I’ll have something along these lines prepared in case of difficulties (such as workshop facilitators being unable to travel due to floods) .

Do any readers have any suggestions on other approaches which could be used?