Since 2000, the Institute of Museum and Library Studies’ (IMLS) WebWise conference has brought together representatives from museums, libraries, archives, systems science, education, and other fields who are interested in the future of high-quality online content for inquiry and learning.  An annual conference, WebWise highlights recent research and innovations in digital technology, explores their potential impacts on library and museum services, and promotes effective museum and library practices in a digital environment. It also provides recipients of technology-based grants from the Institute with an opportunity to showcase their exemplary projects. Learn more about past WebWise conferences.

New Format

This year, WebWise will steal a page from unconferences and THATCamps by featuring a participatory and interactive format.  The new format, which expands upon last year’s successful WiseCamp and responds to conference participants’ call for more “hands-on” and collaborative sessions, will feature workshops, project demonstrations, project incubation working groups, and lightning talks designed to foster opportunities for collaboration and learning among conference participants.  For example, workshop sessions will provide a chance to learn new digital tools.  Project demonstrations will highlight the scope and scale of current digital projects—particularly those that are collaborative and educational—in an effort to share ongoing work.  Small group, working sessions will foster new ideas, suggest potential partners for inter-institutional collaborations, and address particular challenges facing historical societies, public libraries, and other small and local organizations—particularly with regard to digital and online work.

Putting the Conference Theme into Practice

In keeping with the conference theme—“Putting the Learner at the Center”—this year’s conference will emphasize participant engagement, including more sharing, learning, and connecting with potential partners and collaborators.  Specifically, the conference format will feature new session types, such as:

Workshops: Want to learn a new digital skill? Workshop offerings will respond directly to the interests and ideas of participants. Through the use of an online tool called IdeaScale, participants will have an opportunity to help shape the conference agenda by submitting workshop topics, voting on existing topics, and adding comments. Workshops could include how to participate in the Digital Public Library of America or create online collections; the topics will be up to you!

Project Demonstrations: Learn from nine current and past IMLS exemplary grant teams in extended demonstration sessions with time for audience questions and in-depth discussions.  On Thursday morning, you will have the opportunity to sample from nine digital, collaborative, and interactive project demonstrations.  Project representatives will be on-hand to answer questions and to offer lessons-learned from their experiences.

Project/Partnership Incubator: Rather than attending plenary sessions this year, conference attendees will participate in small, facilitated working groups in order to connect with one another, to hatch new ideas, and to work with potential collaborators.  Led by experienced facilitators, the project/partnership incubator groups will be organized around opportunities and challenges that matter to you.  Our aim is to give each participant an opportunity to return to their home institutions with actionable goals, potential partners, and workable solutions to existing challenges.  Come with questions, challenges, and/or potential projects, and leave with feedback and potential partners.

Sharing:  Year after year, conference attendees return to WebWise because they value sharing ideas and learning from the experiences of peer and partner organizations.  This year’s WebWise will capitalize on peer-to-peer sharing.  For example, Thursday lunchtime “Lightning Rounds” where participants will have an opportunity to ask questions, describe successes, and present challenging questions for group feedback, and on Friday, project/partner working groups will offer feedback from their conversations.

All in all, WebWise 2013 promises to be an active, engaging opportunity to learn, to share, and to develop actionable to-dos to implement at your home institution.  We look forward to seeing you there.