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Making the best use of the conference

IRE executive director Mark Horvit and training directors Jaimi Dowdell and Megan Luther offered advice this morning for how to make the best use of the conference. For first-time attendees, here are a few basic things to keep in mind:

There are three types of sessions: panels, demos and hands-on rooms.

Panels follow a fairly traditional conference format. A speaker or a group of speakers discusses a topic and perhaps field some questions. This morning's panels include "Information design and crossing the digital divide," "Getting Started: Digging deep with data journalism", and "Exploratory Data Analysis". There are three panel rooms happening throughout the conference.

Demos are a variation on panels that offer a more detailed look at a topic or demonstration of a tool or technique. They offer more opportunity for questions and offer a closer, more narrow look than panels. This morning's demo is of the FOIA Machine tool, developed at the Center for Investigative Reporting. There is one demo room with rotating sessions throughout the conference.

Hands-on rooms offer an opportunity to get in front of a computer and get your hands dirty. Laptops are set up in these rooms (or in some occasions you can bring your own), and instructors walk you through how to use, for examples, a piece of software, a programming language or a data cleaning technique.

Our CAR Guides series also offers tips from journalists of all skill levels about what they're looking forward to.

Be sure to check out the panel discussions, which can be found on the app or on our website. Session descriptions often include an explanation of prerequisites or what skill level you should have to get value out of the session.

If you need help determining if a session is a good fit for you and you can't tell from the description, ask an IRE staff member. We've got red "staff" badges underneath our name tags.

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