One of my core values is transparency. In my current role as a CCCC officer, that has been a guiding principle for me with the convention planning process (from making Stage 1 peer review feedback comments available to submitters to posting regular blog updates about the process as we’ve moved through from submission to final program content). Since the convention has moved to a virtual format, an additional layer of decisions has had to be made that wouldn’t typically be part of the process, reducing the total number of sessions that are able to be included on the program that have already been accepted through peer review. In this blog post, I’ll briefly describe the process used to make these difficult decisions, which included what amounts to a “Stage 3” review that used elements of the program review process that Stage 1 and 2 had required. At those stages, of the sessions accepted through peer review, we used a proportional acceptance, where the number of final acceptances in any given cluster is proportional to the number of submissions in that category. Likewise, proposals are reviewed and ranked according to the criteria established by the program chair.
To accommodate the new program capacity required for a virtual convention, I was asked to reduce the program from 562 to approximately 275 sessions (including TYCA). I started by asking presenters to confirm their continued interest in being on the program, and their preferred session types, as much as they could be accommodated. They survey was used only to determine whether presenters were interested in remaining on the program (to account for changes in personal or professional circumstances, and the shift to a virtual context which some presenters may find unsuitable for their original vision). Some presenters did choose to withdraw from the program.
To make the next more difficult phase of program reduction, I returned to the list of accepted sessions and recalculated the proportion of sessions that could be included relative to the total number in the program but reduced to the new target number. I returned to the reviewer notes and prioritized those sessions for inclusion that had received the highest ratings by reviewers. In the case of relatively equal evaluation feedback, I erred as much as possible on the side of including as many presenters as possible, and sought ways to reconfigure or combine sessions in order to allow for maximum participation.
Of course, program assembling is not just a quantitative exercise; I also sometimes made judgements about other issues like ensuring that there is a balanced and diverse set of sessions in each of the cluster areas for attendees within each of the session types (roundtables, panel presentations, workshops, etc). I also took into consideration some of the pressing needs members have now including work on anti-racist pedagogy and assessment, online writing instruction, and engaging students in virtual learning environments, for example.
In addition, the elements of the CCCC 2020 program, including the Engaged Learning Experience sessions, and the Documentarian role will continue. The ELEs revised acceptances were similarly made using the program criteria and the peer review feedback from Stage 1.
I balanced other factors when making decisions about the program structure, too, in aiming to keep with some of the usual features of the convention.
- Sponsored panels and roundtables (proposals that are reserved a spot because they are submitted by member groups like our caucuses, Special Interest Groups, and other standing groups) were retained whenever possible. These include established CCCC events like the Research Network Forum and the Teacher2Teacher Event held on the Saturday of the conference. This is because prior convention follow-up surveys show that events that are focused around specific interest groups and standing group subjects are of high interest and high satisfaction among convention-goers who responded to the survey form circulated after each annual meeting.
- Likewise, the sessions for our CCCC award winners were prioritized, and standing arrangements with partner professional organizations like the Modern Language Association, the Council of Writing Program Administrators, and the Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and COmposition.
- To retain space on the program for our peer-reviewed proposals, CCCC member groups were asked to hold their business meetings separate from the program. The CCCC site will have a central list of those meetings so that participants can attend those that are of interest to them.
Last, a note about session types and assignments. Around 110 of the included sessions could be offered in a live, or prerecorded with live Q and A scheduled format. The other accepted sessions were assigned to one of the approximately 170 ‘on-demand’ formats. In making session type assignments, I’ve prioritized creating a convention program that is as interactive, inclusive, and engaged as possible. Engaged Learning Experience sessions, workshops, and roundtables–because of their interactive nature–are more likely to appear in the program as live and prerecorded with Q and A. And because on-demand sessions can accommodate a greater number of presenters, I sometimes combined sessions or speakers to maximize the ability of as many people as possible on the program. On-demand session assignments were also more likely for those for sessions that had a more traditional delivery model.
Finally, in the continued commitment to accessibility, I note here that presenters should plan to make their materials accessible. Recorded videos must be accurately captioned and/or accompanied by a full transcript. If you have visual images/photos/graphics in your recording, they should be accompanied by textual or verbal description (an explanation of the image for individuals with vision impairment). The CCCC is committed to accessibility for all conference attendees, and the ADA requires by law that digital materials be shared in accessible formats.
This Session Types and FAQ Info: https://cccc.ncte.org/cccc/cccc-2021-presentation-info provides important information about how the virtual platform and session types will work.
If you have thoughts or questions, feel free to leave a “reply” to the comments, or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.