Last Friday, March 19th, the World Cafe Community Foundation partnered with Public Decisions
, Learning Times
to produce the first ever World Cafe learning program in Second Life.
photo by Craig Paterson - click to see larger
I hosted the interactive session, which was about 6 hours - from 8am - 2pm PST. The topic of the learning program was Hosting World Cafe in an Online Environment
, although about 85% of the content we covered was as easily applicable to hosting face-to-face World Cafes. There were ten people who participated in the learning program and they came from all over - including one person from Australia who joined us even though it was 2am - 8am in her time zone! Now that's dedication. I was surprised to see that all but one or two of the participants were new to Second Life, and several were also new to hosting World Cafe. I couldn't help but be impressed by their courage and tenacity in learning so many new things at once, and also by how quickly everyone picked it up.
Five others from the World Cafe community joined us for a full World Cafe to provide the experiential ground for the day's learning program. Additional participants in the World Cafe included our wonderful volunteer graphic recorder Andrea Medina
who was calling in from Tepoztlan, Mexico; Adriano Pianesi
, Niela Miller from the World Cafe Second Life group, and Mark Lewis
The Cafe questions were about the powerful conversations that have made a lasting impact on us, in any area of our lives, and tracking what the qualities and circumstances of those conversations were. It was a lively World Cafe and Andrea's insightful graphic recordings were so efficiently done that we had them available as visuals in Second Life right away. Here are her images to give you a sense of the Cafe energy. (Click on them to see them larger):
The learning session was a rich exploration of each of the World Cafe design principles and how they are applied, supported by a video
narrated by Samantha Tan, and a PowerPoint presentation featuring Nancy Margulies
' fabulous World Cafe Principle Stamps. We also addressed what's different about hosting World Cafe in an online environment.
We tried something completely new in pairing two powerful technologies - Second Life
for its visual presence and MaestroConference
for its sophisticated audio controls that allow large and small breakout conversations. They both worked extremely well for us.
Here's the group trying out one of the perks of Second Life during a break (click for a larger photo):
And finally, one more by Craig Paterson showing us deep in conversation during the session (click to see it larger):
So, what did I learn myself as a host? I learned that 1) I should not pre-suppose that Second Life is too challenging for most people, that 2) next time I would break the day down into three 2 hour sessions (although amazingly no one seemed exhausted by the end of it but me, but maybe that was because I'd been up late the night before finishing my preparations), and 3) that people really do have the knowledge and wisdom they need to address any issue. This group certainly had plenty of both and it was enormous fun and a great honor to work with them. I also learned that 4) I am getting pretty comfortable with MaestroConference, and that it really does work like I need it to, and 5) I am always learning and refining and it will probably be like that forever. May it be so.
My heartfelt thanks to Andrea Medina for graciously lending her time and considerable talents to be the graphic facilitator for this event. You did an incredible job, and I would work with you again in a heartbeat.
Special Thanks to Nancy Margulies for her sound advice and extraordinary visuals, and to David Sibbet for his ongoing abundant generosity in gifting us with the World Cafe space in Second Life.
And a final special thank you to Brian Burt and the folks at MaestroConference
(thank you, Mark Lewis!), for building the exact tool that can support the World Cafe in expanding far beyond what we could ever have imagined before it existed.