Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

On Organizing Events Differently 

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​So while working on organizing an event, some colleagues and I came across this v useful document from the Rockefeller Foundation that gives some great ideas on how to think about and organize events that are more oriented towards active learning and producing actionable outputs (vs just listening to people talk). They call this type of event a “convening”.

I think it also offers great ideas for shorter events like workshops and symposia. My colleagues and I already do some of this stuff, but it’s cool how it’s organized to help you focus activities depending on your purpose/goal.

Btw that thing I do with people moving around the room depending on opinion on a sepctrum (which i call kinesthetic sociogram) is apparently supposed to be called human spectogram. Who knew?

I really like the concept of “asset mapping”. When you have a group of people in a room with similar interests but different backgrounds, it can help a lot to ask people to make explicit their areas of strength and experience which they are willing to contribute to the discussion. I always try to do that, in some way, but just learning that term helps me think about it in more intentional ways and reminds me to spend a good amount of time on it. Not just use it by the way. Can be really useful for pedagogical purposes – help students in group work identify who has what to contribute. 

I also really like how the document gives ideas of how to develop an agenda for an event that is participant-centric and has uncertain outcomes – by offering suggestions on processes that are conducive to nurturing good discussion and action. So even though an event would not have particular topics for each time slot, there can be particular activities, like World Café or Fishbowl (these two are familiar to some people, but it’s still good seeing all the ideas organized with recommendations on which processes promote what kind of work).

Near the end of this doc, it offers sample outlines showing activities one could do with purposes like divergence, setting shared language, co-creation, connection, and commitment – and how these “steps” are more or less important depending on whether your purpose us, say, to influence or to innovate or to develop foresight or to align&act.

I think those could be useful steps for open online courses as well. Reminds me a little of Dave Cormier’s step of “declare” for example. But i think this doc gives suggestions for how to make these different things more intentional and to include participants more fully.

Anyway – check it out if you are organizing something soon

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