The Centre for Teaching Innovation and the Leadership and Organisational Development Team organised and facilitated an event to launch the Westminster Learning Communities. Open Space Technology was the approach chosen as a way to bring together academic and corporate service colleagues. The purpose of the event was to provide an opportunity for staff to collaboratively explore ideas, topics and themes around which learning communities could form, and how they could be developed into a learning communities funding application. The application process opened immediately after the event.
Colleagues were invited to generate topics and questions in response to the question ‘how can we develop practices that are recognisably and distinctively Westminster that all our staff and students can be excited and inspired by?’
Open space is a methodology whereby attendees create their own agenda in response to the question posed. Everyone sits in a circle as there is no hierarchy in the group, everyone has an equal say irrespective of their role or status.
People are invited to select topics or questions they would like to explore in the groups and post them on the agenda wall. The flags represented the group stations.
After all the topics were posted, people could join groups of their choice. They could also use the law of two feet and move around to wherever they felt they could make a valuable contribution, without feeling constrained to stay in one place.
There are four principles for open space technology which are cited below;
Whenever it starts is the right time;
Whoever comes are the right people;
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have;
When it is over it is over.
After the discussions people were asked to use the five dots they had been allocated and to prioritise their recommendations against the summaries from each of the flagged groups. A full copy of the report is available here
Colleagues who attended the event are now encouraged to develop their ideas into proposals for Learning Communities. Those who have a firm proposal can register their community and apply for funding via the Learning Communities pages on the Centre for Teaching Innovation website. Those who would like to develop their ideas further by engaging with colleagues from across the university can do so by using the Marketplace on the CTI website. Here you can float ideas for others to comment on, and you can make contact with colleagues who may be interested in forming a community with you.
All the information and guidance about starting a community can be found here: http://cti.westminster.ac.uk/starting-a-community/