Learning From Each Other: 10 Tips for Maximizing Hosting World Café: The Fundamentals

With a new WC Signature Learning Program at Fielding starting on Sept 30 (registration closes September 20), we thought you might enjoy these 10 Key Tips, gleaned from wisdom generated during the Spring World Café course at Fielding:

1) Complete the Reading Before the Course Starts
This is probably the most valuable advice we heard, and the one most often repeated. The course is fast-paced and once it starts you’ll want to immerse yourself fully in the assignments and peer conversation. Having done the required pre-reading will give you confidence, valuable knowledge, & a solid basis for fruitful participation.

2) Post Your Weekly Assignments Early in the Week
You’ll be doing the bulk of your coursework in rotating World Cafe “tables”; each week you’ll join a new table and get a new assignment. Each assignment has two parts: 1) responding to a question, and 2) building on each other’s responses.

This is a team process, so by posting your response right away on Monday you give not only yourself but your whole table the best chance of receiving maximum benefit from the week’s knowledge-building process.

3) Devote Regular Times to Your Coursework
This course has a regular rhythm and finding your own beat within it will help you keep up and get the most from the assignments and your World Cafe conversations. You’ll find your own pace, but most participants find that devoting an hour or so, three times a week, is a good rhythm.

4) Fill in Your Profile & Read Each Other’s
One of the challenges of working online is getting to know your fellow participants without being able to see each other or get visual cues. One of the simplest and most useful ways to learn about each other is by utilizing participant profiles.

Upload a photo of yourself and share personal details in your profile that will give others an idea of who you are beyond your role or position. Give links to websites that will reveal more about you if you have them. When you join a new table, start out by reading the profiles of the people you are with. Refer back to people’s profile often to get perspective on who you are working with and gain insight into their thinking.

5) Participate, Participate, Participate
Given the largely peer-learning format of this course, the key to receiving the most value and best quality of learning from it is, quite simply, participation. If ever there was a case to prove the old maxim “you get out what you put in”, this is it. What’s most interesting here is that in this course, as in life, you’re not in it alone. The quality of your participation automatically raises the bar for everyone else, as theirs does for you. Your active contribution can help stimulate a culture of learning and collaboration that yields exceptional results for everyone, not only during the course but also extending far beyond it. 

6) Attend the Optional Weekly Clinic
One of the most-requested improvements for this course was to extend opportunities for personal engagement. The two synchronous sessions required in the Spring course were highlights for many participants and they asked for more. So this course will offer optional hosted weekly clinics where the group can engage each other in synchronous conversation about weekly assignments, get support for anything they need help with, etc.

7) Frequent the Watercooler
While the ongoing discourse of the curriculum will be happening at the Café tables, we also have a “watercolor” or forum where informal or over-arching conversation can take place. Many participants in the Spring course said they wished they would have made more use of it, and asked that we put more focus on it when offering new courses. This is also the place where you can ask general questions of the group or request help from the presenters.

8) Take Advantage of the Senior World Cafe Hosts Presenting Your Course
This is a rare opportunity to be mentored by Bo Gyllenpalm, one of the early European contributors in the development of the World Cafe process and a pioneer in applying the World Café principles and method in an asynchronous environment. Bo was on the committee for Juanita Brown’s dissertation (which is one of the core reading texts for this course) and an extraordinary resource. We don’t know long Bo will be a presenter, so work with him while you can.

Bo’s co-presenter Amy Lenzo pioneered the World Café process in a synchronous online environment, and has been a key member of the World Cafe Community Foundation since 2005, guiding the development of the World Café Signature Learning Programs since its launch almost two years ago now. Working with her offers excellent opportunities for deepening your grasp of this work, understanding the new modalities for presenting it, and engaging the larger world of World Cafe practitioners.

9) Come Prepared for an Adventure
Although it is offered through an accredited graduate university and can be quite academically rigorous, this course is perhaps a little different than classes you may have encountered in the past. It calls for opening your mind to new possibilities and suspending reliance on old beliefs and assumptions that may be limiting you. It asks you to embrace the idea that the wisdom you seek may be standing right before you in the hearts & minds of people who were strangers before the course started. Embrace this spirit of adventure to really receive the treasure waiting for you on the journey.

10)  Claim your Credits
The course offers 6 CEUs (continuing education units) and 19 CCEUs (coaching continuing education units), which you can claim through  to support your ongoing professional requirements and/or extend your academic or professional credentials.

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