With our Program Co-chairs in place, and our Program Committee filled, work on MCN 2018 has begun in earnest. In fact, one of our first steps began soon after MCN 2017 concluded in Pittsburgh: we took stock of the previous year’s conference by talking to the staff and community members who made it happen and reviewing the post-conference survey that more than 200 of you so generously and thoughtfully completed.
From that, we’ve tried to distill some key takeaways. This year, taking a page out of the design thinking playbook, we’ve expressed them as How Might We questions that the program staff, co-chairs, committee, volunteers and conference participants will be able to come back to and answer anew throughout the next nine months. The phrasing of How Might We questions is designed to elicit creative thinking and open responses and move us toward actionable steps. The MCN leadership team has discussed some possible answers which we’ll roll out over the next few months as the conference starts to take shape.
Of course, reviewing the previous conference is only one of the many aspects of the work involved in putting together the conference program every year. The Program Committee—a group of about 40 professionals representing disciplines and institutions across the sector—is already working on a theme and will shortly begin to identify possible keynote speakers. Program co-chairs and conference planners will soon visit the Denver conference site, and meetings and calls and Basecamp messages are flying at a furious rate. We’re also going to be taking a fresh look at some MCN staples like Ignite and workshops, as well as evaluating some recent additions like innovative “other format” sessions and pop-ups. And we’ll continue to evolve the call for proposals, which will open in April.
There’s a lot to look forward to this year, and a lot to do to make it happen. In the end, there’s really one question that drives it all: How might we make it your MCN?
Our Key Questions for MCN 2018:
- How might we make the most of the spaces at the conference and turn challenging physical limitations into networking and learning opportunities?
- How might we help speakers become better teachers and also partners in the success of the conference?
- How might we make each session unique?
- How might we ensure new ideas don’t crowd out important fundamentals and big thinking doesn’t replace hands-on skills?
- How might we make space for the introverted and the newcomer, for reflection and rejuvenation?
- How might we manage the deluge of communications in the months before the conference?
- How might we help speakers share their presentations beyond the session walls?
We encourage the MCN community to discuss, comment, and expand upon these questions and answers, to make this part of a conversation that will lead to a constantly learning and improving conference this and every year. We can’t do it without you—it’s your MCN!
Greg Albers, MCN board member and program liaison
Robert Weisberg, Catherine Devine, and Adrienne Lalli Hills, Program co-chairs