I’m really looking forward to presenting at the NYSAIS Education & Information Technology Conference on November 10. I put a lot of time and effort into the topic I am speaking on and I am anxious to have the conversation that is planned afterward. We’ll be using the World Cafe protocol to organize the conversation. I am confident that Alex Ragone, Arvind Grover and Barbara Swanson are willing to help with such a large group.
- Seat four or five people at small Café-style tables or in conversation clusters.
- Set up progressive (usually three) rounds of conversation of approximately 20-30 minutes each.
- Questions or issues that genuinely matter to your life, work or community are engaged while other small groups explore similar questions at nearby tables.
- Encourage both table hosts and members to write, doodle and draw key ideas on their tablecloths or to note key ideas on large index cards or placemats in the center of the group.
- Upon completing the initial round of conversation, ask one person to remain at the table as the “host” while the others serve as travelers or “ambassadors of meaning.” The travelers carry key ideas, themes and questions into their new conversations.
- Ask the table host to welcome the new guests and briefly share the main ideas, themes and questions of the initial conversation. Encourage guests to link and connect ideas coming from their previous table conversations—listening carefully and building on each other’s contributions.
- By providing opportunities for people to move in several rounds of conversation, ideas, questions, and themes begin to link and connect. At the end of the second round, all of the tables or conversation clusters in the room will be cross-pollinated with insights from prior conversations.
- In the third round of conversation, people can return to their home (original) tables to synthesize their discoveries, or they may continue traveling to new tables, leaving the same or a new host at the table. Sometimes a new question that helps deepen the exploration is posed for the third round of conversation.
- After several rounds of conversation, initiate a period of sharing discoveries and insights in a whole group conversation. It is in these town meeting-style conversations.It is in these town meeting-style conversations that patterns can be identified,
collective knowledge grows, and possibilities for action emerge.