Thursday, February 19, 2009

Scheduling the Moot

The draft program schedules has been posted for the 2009 Canadian Moodle Moot. There's a really good mix of sessions -- about 68 in total. This is my first time working on a conference schedule. There are so many factors to consider! I'm sure I'm leaving something out but here are a few factors that some to mind:
  • perception of popularity of topic (to decide what to combine in a time slot)
  • similarities in topics
  • variety in concurrent sessions
  • presenter's suggestion for stream
  • presenter's willingness to partner
  • distribution across streams for each time slot
  • distribution of popular sessions across daily time slots and days
  • time zones
  • suggestions from forum (topics available to virtual delegates)
  • multiple presentations by an individual (to avoid time conflicts)
  • emerging streams (ones we didn't identify at the beginning, like research, and working with faculty)
We used the Moodle database tool for proposal submissions. This seemed to work quite well. It requires logging into the site to both view other proposals and to submit your own, and this has the added advantage of gathering names of people who are interested in updates about the conference.

As a committee we each reviewed the proposals and added an agreed upon set of tags to the database. This turned out to be a great way to manage some of the top level sorting -- like topics we thought would be popular and should be in a large room, and sessions that could be combined with others in a 75 minute time slot.

But mostly the process involved cut - paste - cut - paste as sessions were moved around the schedule in a big text file. This took a l o n g time. I keep thinking about how to make the process easier. Probably sticky notes and a huge wall would have made more sense! Maybe there's some software to handle this type of work?

In any case it will be a great event! I'm especially excited about the international participation, and of course the 'open mic' with Hot Cottage, an Edmonton blues band, along with Martin Dougiamas on drums.

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