We have recently added a set of index cards to each Edcamp-in-a-Box that we send out. They are to help build the session board. The index cards are used to collect session topics. Everyone is encouraged to write down the topics and questions that they want to talk about during the day. Using the index cards makes the process more democratic and true to the edcamp model. It gives an easy means for everyone to make a suggestion and gently avoids empowering the people who have come with plans to “lead” a session. They also take some of the pressure away from those new to edcamp. When a newcomer signs in or during breakfast, index cards can be made available. There is no need to fight your way through to a crowded board. The card can also be anonymous, so that there is no pressure to feel like the “expert” on a topic that you suggest. If you want to talk about it, you simply turn in a card to the organizers.
The organizers collect all of the index cards and collate them into different topic areas, then choosing the ones to go on the board. Sessions are chosen based on what people are interested in talking about; sessions are not chosen simply because someone got to the session board first. Depending on the number of people and the number of rooms available, the organizers fill the board with the topics suggested. One benefit of using index cards to identify topics for the conversations is that then the session doesn’t belong to anyone. It is the responsibility of everyone in the room, who have come together to tackle the same issue.