Innovation: Blended World Cafe Faculty Event

Last week, the CTET crew put on a unique faculty event.  The intention was to support dialogue and learning among colleagues around the topic of supporting Teaching in an Intercultural Context.  At RRU, many (most) of our faculty aren’t on campus day-to-day, and so we are always seeking ways to include colleagues at a distance in conversations and faculty development opportunities.  Often, the easiest thing is to host sessions online (folks often prefer the convenience of this, even if they are on campus).  But since most of our programs are blended, we have quite a bit of experience in designing “blends” of various types. And so we challenged ourselves to do a more “robust” blend for this event.

We began with the traditional World Cafe format (this is a GREAT site/resource for anyone interested in doing f2f world cafes). And we added a twist: we essentially ran an online World Cafe (in Collaborate, using breakout rooms for “tables”) parallel to the on campus World Cafe, and brought everyone together at the beginning (for introductions and instructions) and the end (for reporting out/sharing) via livestream.

In an hour and a half, we had 16 conversations, on 4 themes, at 8 tables (4 online, 4 on campus).  We generated a lot of great ideas in that time, and added to the important dialogue around this issue at RRU.

The secret to our success was definitely support – all hands were on deck, and online, with “table hosts” at every table, “recorder/supporters” circulating to encourage people to make their mark on the Collaborate whiteboard, flip charts, and table cloths, and a few of us floating and monitoring the flurry of activity. Not to mention quite a bit of planning ahead of time.

To bridge the gap between the online and on campus tables (who were working and reporting out on the same themes), we had the online table hosts planted on campus, and join us at the end for reporting out (to represent their online tables).  So people online saw their host on the final report out livestream.

Our next challenge will be to blend this further, so there is a two-way connection between online and on campus, and the people online can be seen and talk directly to the room.

This very positive experience led me to thinking we should “package” this as an OER, much like the World Cafe site does.  And perhaps build a section to our current RRU OER offerings around the theme of innovative/blended workshop formats.

1 thought on “Innovation: Blended World Cafe Faculty Event

  1. Clint Lalonde (@clintlalonde)

    Great idea packaging it as an OER and sticking it on the OER server, especially after seeing the great wrap-up report that was delivered by your team today. Very useful stuff. And I know there are many who would benefit from seeing how we technically pulled off facilitating a truly blended event.


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