THE FIRST RMLE MINI UNCONFERENCE: ASHEVILLE 2013

The first Research in Management Learning and Education (RMLE) Mini Unconference was held on 7th June 2013 at University of North Carolina - Asheville (UNC-Asheville) during the Organizational Behavior Teaching Conference (OBTC).

The mini unconference was free, scheduled during the larger conference, and more informal than the first 'full' unconference. We attracted 16 participants from the conference delegates, which was a excellent turn-out given how strong the competing sessions were. The mini unconference lasted three hours, over two conference sessions, on the Friday afternoon of OBTC.

We opted for a more traditional approach to the unconference this time around. Instead of asking participants to submit an abstract describing their interests, any conference delegate could just rock up and get involved. To find out what people wanted to talk about, we handed out post-it notes and asked everyone to write down three things they were interested in discussing. We gathered these together and George facilitated the process of clustering them (see left).

Seven topics emerged as ones that people wanted to discuss:

  • MOOCs and online management education
  • Student engagement
  • Corporate social responsibility issues in management education
  • Relations between B-schools and other entitites
  • Service learning
  • Self and professional development
  • Design thinking

Three of these topics were chosen and discussion groups formed. Unlike last time, groups were not allocated a facilitator and discussion was allowed to flow freely. After these discussions, there was a plenary discussion of themes that emerged, both of the discussions and of the process.

We want to thank Gary Stark (OBTC 2013 Program Chair) and Micheal Stratton (OBTC 2013 Site Coordinator) for making it possible for us to host this 'mini unconference' at OBTC, and especially for the doughnuts! The mini unconference was so positively received that discussion towards the end of the event suggested that it might be worth staging an unconference as a pre-conference activity at future OBTCs.

For those of you who've never been to Asheville, it is a stunning place to visit, as the following pictures of the beautiful campus and incredibly ugly grand hotel demonstrate!