Talk:How To Run A Jam

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Formerly under construction by Mel, now on the back burner because of a million other things to do... Please contribute and help clean up in the meantime - if I see activity happening here I'm much more likely to jump in and actually help to finish this! Mchua 16:31, 13 February 2008 (EST)

  • background reading
  • what is olpc
  • what is a jam?
  • finding a coordinator
  • locations
  • food
  • communicating with olpc - getting laptops etc
  • judging

Contents

What Jams need

(below is contentdump to parse into guide)

We need a couple things:

(a) Space. Do you know any schools, clubs/associations, or companies with buildings or offices they might be willing to let us use for the Curriculum Jam (first weekend of October)? We'll set up and clean up ourselves, will operate entirely outside of the normal workweek, and bring a good amount of positive publicity to them (see http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Game_Jam_Boston_June_2007/Press). We'd need 3-6 rooms with tables and chairs that we can move around, plus internet.

This is really important - we can't run the Jam without it! It's the most immediate need.

(b) Participants. If you know any teachers (or someone who would know teachers, or people interested in education) in Manila who'd like to come for the weekend and help us develop classroom activities, please let me know! No experience required (curious parents and interested high-school/college students are invited as well).

It's a great way to learn about and get involved in the OLPC project (http://www.laptop.org) and also to learn about open content, which is a great way to get free, high-quality learning resources for your students; textbooks, lesson plans, educational games, you name it, it's out there. If you're interested in coming or know someone who might be, just send me an email.

I would *love* to have this Jam be mostly in Tagalog. If you know a great teacher or older student who speaks both Tagalog and English who might want to step up and be the local coordinator for the Jam, let me know! (Cousins: would you like to learn how to run a conference? I'll help you, and it's a *great* learning experience, very helpful for college and jobs.)

(c) Judges. Is there some way to contact schools in the area (ICA/Xavier mailing lists perhaps)? We'll need about 40-50 kids ages 7-15 on the afternoon of October 7 to come and judge the event - test out the classes we've developed and give feedback on how well they work and what should be changed. Contact me for details.

(d) Food. We need some way of feeding ~40 people for 2.3 days (Friday dinner to Sunday lunch) and some way of providing snacks for about 100 people (mostly kids) on Sunday afternoon. Know any places that might donate food, or money for food?

(e) Publicity. Know any journalists or PR people who can help us reach them? I've got a press release I'd like to send out about this (it's in English, though - don't know if that's a problem).

(f) Crash space. Would any of you folks still in the Philippines mind if I slept on your couch for a week or so while I'm helping with the Jam? I'm not an entirely terrible cook, and would be happy to fix computers while I'm around, too. :)

Feel free to forward and spread the word to your coworkers, classmates, and friends. (Actually, /please/ forward and spread the word to your coworkers, classmates and friends). Let's make this happen!


The 4 principles of a Jam

1) Make Something Real. Teams are expected to go from start to finish on a deliverable in less than 3 days - no loose ends to tie up, no obligations after you leave. People are busy; Jams respect their time.

2) Instant Feedback. You're making real things for real people - so those people will be coming in at the end to test the things you've made for them. Watching users interact with your creations is a profoundly rewarding (and enlightening and humbling) experience - especially when the creations were just glimmers in your mind less than 72 hours before. Plus it's an opportunity for creators to become teachers and mentors as well, and a chance to empower younger children, who rarely find their advice and judgment being sought by adults.

3) Newbie-friendly. You don't have to be a prior contributor to the project to join a Jam. In fact, a crucial part of Jams are the mini-tutorials, roving mentors, and getting-started sessions designed specifically to get new developers involved in your projects.

4) Make It Yours. When Jam attendees see a need, they fill it - from bringing coffee to giving rides to holding impromptu tutorials in the hall. They don't so much attend the event as help to run it. This emphasizes opportunity-seeking, initiative-taking, and independence.

Proposal for tutorial

The below is the text of a proposal we've submitted for a talk at Linux.conf.au.

This tutorial is for everyone who's ever wanted to run a Free Culture event but never quite knew how to get started.

We believe in learning by doing, so during the course of this tutorial, you'll be planning and preparing for your own local Jam event, be it focused on Code, Content, or some other aspect of Free Culture entirely. There will be opportunities to collaborate with other Linux.conf attendees from your area, and you'll leave the session with a Jam of your own in motion.

Jams are intense 3-day creation events where teams converge among a common interest to Make Something Cool and Give It To People. They're a great way to jump-start local interest in a project and get new contributors involved. Aside from general conference logistics (how to schedule, publicize, find a location, recruit participants and volunteers, talk with sponsors...) we'll cover the Four Fundamental Principles of Jams in detail:

1) Make Something Real. Teams are expected to go from start to finish on a deliverable in less than 3 days - no loose ends to tie up, no obligations after you leave. People are busy; Jams respect their time. How do you make sure participants have the resources they need, that projects stay on track, that morale stays high, and that caffeine stays available? In short, how do you make sure Real Things actually get Done?

2) Instant Feedback. You're making real things for real people - so those people will be coming in at the end to test the things you've made for them. Watching users interact with your creations is a profoundly rewarding (and enlightening and humbling) experience - especially when the creations were just glimmers in your mind less than 72 hours before. How do you run a fruitful feedback session? How do you get participants and judges creating things together in a camaraderie-filled, productive way?

3) Newbie-friendly. You don't have to be a prior contributor to the project to join a Jam. In fact, a crucial part of Jams are the mini-tutorials, roving mentors, and getting-started sessions designed specifically to get new developers involved in your projects. How do you make sure your Jam is welcoming to newcomers?

4) Make It Yours. When Jam attendees see a need, they fill it - from bringing coffee to giving rides to holding impromptu tutorials in the hall. They don't so much attend the event as help to run it. How do you make all your attendees into participants, putting them in a "co-organizer" frame of mind... while still enabling them to concentrate on their work?

In addition, we'll cover issues such as internationalization, running Jams in parallel (collaboration between two simultaneous Jams in different locations - even different continents!), and any other questions participants may have. This tutorial is also relevant for unconferences, unclasses, and open space programs such as Barcamp.

There are no prerequisites. Attendance at a prior Free Culture event is helpful, but not required. (For those who want to get a firsthand taste, the OLPC Activity Jam Melbourne is the weekend immediately preceding Linux.conf.) We hope to see you there!

Test coordinator

Another thing to do is to coordinate the testing itself. Basically, we're going to have lots of kids coming in on the last day to test, but exactly how they're going to test hasn't yet been defined, and someone's got to figure that out and manage that (or rather, figure out how the testing will run and recruit some teachers or parents to help manage the kids at the actual event).

Even more importantly, someone's got to teach the participants how to teach, since not all the team members coming to the Jam are going to have teaching experience, or be familiar with working with kids. You might have a group of brilliant coders or ace photographers who create fantastic things - but if they aren't comfortable working with kids to test it on the last day, they (and their projects and the kids) won't get as much out of the Jam experience as they could.

Most of the work would be done at the Jam itself, with a little planning by email beforehand; basically, instead of working on a project for the laptop, your project for the Jam would be getting the teams and kids ready for testing and judging.

barcamp notes from rod begbie

BarCampBlock, Palo Alto, August 2007

===1. BarCamp scales. ===

Remember in March when we were worried about 250 people showing up for BCB2? BarCampBlock had over 900 signups, and around 600 people showed up on the first day. A straw poll showed that for most, it was their first BarCamp.

There were around 20 "spaces" available for sessions, ranging from a 70-capacity auditorium, to meeting rooms with space for seven or eight. The sessions got spread across the schedule fairly evenly, and the wide array of choices meant that, while sometimes there was more than one session you might want to attend, there was always at least one.

The overall feeling I got from the crowd was one of momentum. The organizers turned the key, but once they gave the crowd a little push, the energy carried the event forward. Yes, when they said "Go fill out the board!", there was a crush. But it was a polite crush that negotiated the schedule well.


2. Have a "Kids' Area"

There were a handful of kids at the event, and a small office was set-up with legos, pens, chalk, and random other toys to entertain them, with adults taking turns to monitor.

This allowed the parents to attend, gave the kids a chance to socialize, and brought a blast of energy to the other attendees.


3. Sponsorships: Small amounts, but many.

I remember Shimon at the BCB2 post-mortem dinner saying that he'd prefer more sponsors with lower cash amount, to one big sugar-daddy. BarCampBlock had a $300 limit on cash sponsorships, whether from corporations or individuals, and in the end had around 100 sponsors.

They did have some larger "in kind" donations: For example, Google ordered and paid for the pizza for Saturday's lunch. (They also had the pizza delivered on a rolling-basis, every 15 minutes for an hour, so there was always fresh hot pizza.)

In return for sponsorship, companies got their name listed on the wiki, and in the map handout. No green t-shirts  :)


4. Schwag

The name badges were band passes, from bandpasses.com.

Much better than "My Name Is..." stickers, they had the URLs for the wiki, backchannel and social networking site (http://barcampblock.crowdvine.com/), plus space for three "tags", so you could get a sense of people's interests and icebreak with ease. (Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/barcamp/tags/barcampattendee/) Lovely and collectible.

The first 500 attendees got a bandpass, a water bottle (http://www.flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/1184601899/) and a couple of BarCampBlock stickers and buttons. The water bottle was a nice touch, as it reduced the dependence on bottled-water, meaning less waste.

There was also a table set-aside for people to drop off their own schwag (pens, stickers, t-shirts etc.), which folks could rifle through.

Notes from Mike Fletcher

If you are intending to license the results, remember to get agreement up front on the licenses (which didn't turn out to be a problem here), but just as importantly (maybe more so), get full names and contact information for everyone! Having "Bob" listed in your copyright notice probably won't pass muster anywhere.

Space

Note that these rooms don't have to be separate - we're looking for a set of spaces that fulfil the following functionalities, however many spaces we need to do that.

  • A space or spaces for between 30-70 people to work collaboratively on various projects. This requires wifi, ready access to electrical outlets, desks and chairs that are moveable so that teams can cluster together - at least a few workbenches that hardware teams don't need to worry about accidentally scratching up. Having room for at least 20-30 people in each space is ideal, as is having some sort of whiteboard/blackboard where schedules and notes can be posted. This is the main area of the Jam.
  • A space where people can eat food.
  • A space where people can rest - separate from the work space described above. Somewhere quiet, with comfy seating.
  • Small breakout spaces where teams (of up to 5 people) can go and huddle. Hallway nooks with clusters of chairs work fine, or empty offices/classrooms.
  • Small breakout spaces where tutorials can be held. Electricity and wifi and some sort of are ideal, but not required.
  • Presentation space - somewhere with a projector (and electricity and wifi) where everyone at the Jam + audience (at least 100 people) can fit comfortably for kickoff and closing gatherings.
  • Demo space - somewhere attendees can set up their projects as demonstrations so that an audience of interested community members and the local kids judging the event can go through and try them out. Think "conference poster session," but much less formal.
  • Judging space - somewhere with blackboards/whiteboards/writing-surfaces where kid-judges can gather and deliberate after the demos, separate from the space with demos so that Jam participants can rest, but not hear what's going on.

Note that this sounds like a lot of rooms, but at the first Jam in Boston (summer 2007) the entire Jam consisted of two rooms: one large classroom with clusterable tables used for work and demos, and one auditorium-style room used for everything else except the breakout spaces, which were held in the hallways. Far over 100 people came through that Jam at some point.

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