Working Seminar framework

Detail from ATypI 73 book cover

Working Seminars are initiated and driven by local groups, with educators and education institutions at the centre of this initiative. The intention is to have each Working Seminar focus on a topic that relates to education and its interfacing with professional/technological/business aspects. This will underline the engagement of educators with other agents in the wider visual communication sphere, and develop opportunities for collaboration and growth. 

The location of each Working Seminar can vary, but attention should be given to the location and time of the main annual event, so that there is no obvious conflict. Additionally, Working Seminars should be arranged with sensitivity to local conditions (seasonality of work or study patterns, weather, and so on). 

Partners and organisation

The Board expects each Working Seminar to be hosted by an educational institution, which will provide space and technical facilities for the event, such as projection equipment, WiFi access, and so on. The local team will take the initiative and primary role in shaping the content of the event, and will take a leading role in the realisation and delivery of the Working Seminar. (For this reason it is expected that the local team will include some ATypI members with experience of event organisation.) To all intents and purposes, local partners should be seen as leading curators of the programme, with relevant Board members providing feedback and advise. 

We envisage a two-day format for up to 60 people, as an ideal balance between a good opportunity for interaction and learning, economy of resources to host the event, and the time commitment required to attend. A two-day event can be delivered with a modest time away from work, especially if its timing during the week allows a return journey to be absorbed by a non-working day, according to regional trends and customs. Whether the event is timed during weekdays, or straddles one weekday and one weekend day, depends on the local conditions, and should be decided by the local team. 

As a rule, any expenditure that can be avoided, should be. Any sponsorship should go towards covering documentation primarily, then accommodation. Expenses such as catering, merchandising, etc., should be strictly controlled. Participants would be expected to fund their own way to the event. Registration fees should be free or as low as possible, on these assumptions: that facilities are provided by the partner institution, that no fees or expenses are paid to speakers, and no differentiation is made between facilitators, speakers, and participants in terms of any registration fee. The modest format and limit on the size of the event is designed to make it easy and affordable to run, and allow a good balance between variety of content and opportunities to participate, meet, and network.

Knowledge generation

At the heart of the concept for the Working Seminars is the assumption that each participant contributes to the proceedings with some prior knowledge, relevant experience, or reflective practice. The aim is therefore to bring together people with informed views on a theme, and facilitate knowledge generation within that group immediately, and the wider community indirectly. 

This objective can be best served with a format that promotes discussion, which relies on keeping the total number of participants low enough to allow most people to meet all others at some point during the two days. Additionally, the proposed scheduling provides for a small number of lecture-type presentations, allows ample time for Q&A, and integrates “workshop sessions” during which participants engage in active learning or collaboration towards a specific objective. (For example, a presentation on course planning best practice can be followed by Q&A to clarify and expand on regional standards and practices, which then feed into a group exercise for developing a new course. The presentation, Q&A, and results of the group activity all constitute a single resource for other educators.)    

We expect every Working Seminar to produce a record of proceedings, and material that can be useful to educators, practitioners, or professionals outside the geographical or institutional boundaries of the partner institution. Given the global audience of the Association, we expect an online record of presentations, in addition to any material that is uploaded as notes or edited documents. An effort should be made to capture the contribution of participants, through recording or any of the many tools that allow real-time documentation. This material will be uploaded to the Association’s Working Seminars sub-site, and our video channel.

Here is a sample schedule for two days. Each section starts with an opening / position talk, that sets an agenda, followed by generous time for Q&A. Each of these is followed by a workshop session during which participants collaborate on an aspect of the themes in the talk. (for example, a talk on planning a new programme can be followed by a workshop brainstorming units and learning outcomes for that programme.) The presenter of the talk would be expected to facilitate the workshop.

Opening talk (30 mins)Opening talk (30 mins)
Q&A (60 mins)Q&A (60 mins)
Coffee break (30 mins)Coffee break (30 mins)
Workshop session (60 mins)Workshop session (60 mins)
Lunch break (90 mins)Lunch break (90 mins)
Position talk (30 mins)Position talk (30 mins)
Q&A (60 mins)Q&A (60 mins)
Coffee break (30 mins)Coffee break (30 mins)
Workshop session (60 mins)Workshop session (60 mins)
Recap statements (15 mins)Recap statements (15 mins)
(Evening event) (Evening event)