MozFest is home to all kinds of sessions run by an amazing, diverse, global community of Facilitators like you. Be sure to check out the call for proposals (call for proposals) to review the kinds of sessions we’ll offer this year, and think about which type of session and space is the best fit for your proposal. 

Think carefully about what you want participants to get from your sessions. Also think about how your session can help you and your work! What can you learn from the amazing people gathered with you? What questions can they help you answer? What help can they offer?

Three people sit around a laptop during a session a MozFest

Because MozFest emphasizes participation so much, the sessions there are unlike any others at more traditional conferences. You should expect the unexpected - the happy accidents, challenges, and coincidences that lead you to discovering new people, new connections, and new approaches to your session. You and your participants will find a way forward together even if a different audience shows up than the one you expected or this or that piece if technology fails. People getting to be creative in sessions is what makes the MozFest flavor unique each year.

Be prepared to engage with your audience and to help them feel like active participants in the session.  Think past being a presenter to being a Facilitator and get creative with your ideas for activities discussions. In the past we’ve hosted sessions like these:

A group of four people sit in a circle during a session at MozFest

Learning Forums were sessions focused on teaching and learning through knowledge sharing, discussion, and reflection.

A laptop carved from wood displays the title of the artwork 'How has the internet and digital magazines affected the printed magazine in the last decade'

Galleries were sessions featuring interactive artwork and demos.

A young participant explaining a task on a laptop to another young participant in a workshop in the Youth Zone

Sheds sessions were workshop-style, rather than things like demos or discussions, for working on problems together.

Across all these formats and any emergent sessions that pop up during the festival, sessions at MozFest should be participatory, accessible, and inclusive. What do we mean by each of those things? How can you work these principles into your session design?

Participatory

Ask yourself:

5 tips for a participatory session

  1. Try to speak for fewer than 15 minutes in a 60 minute session if you can!
  2. Provide time for people to make something together or to learn from one another in small group activities and discussions.
  3. Use good time-keeping and remind people to switch activities, speakers, or topics to make sure everyone has time to participate in the activities you plan.
  4. Offer a few different ways people can participate in each activity or small-group discussion you plan to make participation as accessible and inclusive as possible.
  5. Make sure to end your session with a clear invitation or “call to action” that tells participants how to learn more about your work and contribute to it after the festival and point participants to where they can find online session notes and shared resources.

Accessible 

Ask yourself:

5 tips for an accessible session

  1. Give your session a short, clear title and write a short, clear description that shares a bit about what people will do there.
  2. Share materials online ahead of time in low bandwidth formats with high color contrast (like black and white) that are screen-readable (like GDocs or text files, not .pdfs). 
  3. Share your notes and other materials after your session, as well, so they remain accessible to people who could not attend your session or the festival.
  4. Ask yourself how many different people might participate in your session. How would an 8-year old participate in your session? An 80-year old? Someone who is blind or deaf? A disabled person who needs a different space set-up? Look online for guides to review your work for accessibility like these Accessibility Guidelines for Presentations from the Society for Disabilities Studies.
  5. Begin and end on time so that everyone attending your session (and the next one) can depend on the festival schedule and decide how they want to participate throughout the day without being delayed.

Inclusive

Ask yourself:

5 tips for an inclusive session

  1. Include a warm invitation in your description (like, “Everyone interested is welcome!”), welcome people to your session, and plan time for them to introduce themselves.
  2. If you include people in images or other resources you share, include a diversity of people to represent our global community.
  3. Provide time for introductions at the start of your session, as well as time for small-group discussions. Invite a diversity of people to contribute to large-group discussions so your audience learns from people with different backgrounds. Invite people to share their experiences and expertise with the group.
  4. Use comparisons and prompts that are universal or cross-cultural rather than those that are overly personal, specific, or privileged.
  5. Check your biases and language ahead of the festival and make a plan to be more inclusive (like, try to stop saying, “Guys,” when addressing a mixed gender group).

We know that if you keep these principles and questions in mind, your session will be a success!

Here are some additional resources to help you think about session design:

Remember that you can reach out on Slack at any time to ask for help in thinking through your design. We hope you’ll take advantage of the many AMAs, 1:1 office hours, and Facilitator support calls we have planned. We’re excited to learn more about you and your sessions!

anouk ruhaak.jpg

Anouk Ruhaak is a Mozilla Fellow working on new models of data governance for the public good. For Anouk, MozFest is a “chaotic conference made for and by the community.” She says to expect “tech organizers and digital rights organizers and anyone who cares about the internet to be there.” The most important part is to move around and “figure out where you want to plug in” to the festival. Anouk is especially struck by the connections she makes with other people at the festival and its strong connection to the arts. For example, she remembers that one year “there was this session in the privacy and security space where you could sell your data for candy to see how little it was worth in terms of what you get back from the people that collect it.” Anouk says to look for sessions that connect internet health and trustworthy AI with things you care about in your life. For example, she values the conversations and sessions that happen at MozFest because of the ways they amplifies her work: “My work is all about building alternative solutions to how we currently handle our data, and MozFest gathers the people who might work with me or be able to use the solutions we come up with together.”