Creating structured conversations

Also, I’ve been wondering about creating “structured conversation”, essentially creating a shared agenda or outline of discussion topics and presentations which guides conversation and keeps people on-track. Particularly in a peer-to-peer medium, there ought to be a way to collectively plan what you’re going to discuss, and perhaps also to make shared, time-stamped notes throughout the conversation.

I think that an effective system of structured conversation would help provide a level of structure that in regular classrooms is typically provided by the teacher. But how might you collectively create a plan or agenda for discussion? Two ways:

  • Some meetings are already partially structured from the course description (for example: week 3 includes presentations with rapid-fire writing sessions in-between)
  • Throughout the week(s) perhaps you can gather little highlights, questions, or ideas that you wish to bring up at future meetings

This is sort of an extension of one of the concepts from my Micro Learning Futures challenge:

Before ‘starting’ the meeting you sped a few minutes collectively rearranging these topics and blocks of time to plan out the next hour or two of discussion. This can also help to give everyone a voice in meetings, if everyone brings some ideas to the meeting, you can make sure from the beginning that everyone will have a chance to share ideas or questions with the group. It also gives the benefit of being able to look ahead and start thinking about how you might answer a question before it gets brought up!

Definitely wonder if there’s any research on creating these kinds of “shared outlines” of for structured discussion over video calls and how they affect group dynamics. I see a lot of potential in creating more structured conversations like this (and just because it’s structured doesn’t mean you can’t schedule time for less-structured discussion), but I’d definitely like to weigh the pros and cons in practice.

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Hmm I really like the idea of collaboratively setting an agenda. I think the hardest part will be striking the balance of having enough framework so that participants can easily hop in and start structuring and not too much as to make it feel like they don’t actually have any agency.

I also wonder how much can be domain specific to the things the group is learning. i.e the most simple (but still really valuable!) version of this is basically just scheduling, but how could it be more deeply intertwined with the subject matter?

Let’s try this out in one of the video calls in #meta-course:meta-course-0 (probably the middle one) and report back!

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Just thinking of ways to do some of this with Discourse :smiley:

One idea for this: have a topic where the OP is an outline for the discussion (say of a particular live call / workshop session). Then the procedure could be for each part (exercise, question, whatever), participants should quote that + post a reply w/ rough notes or thoughts on that thing. Then later could aggregate replies to the same items.

And for this, maybe a pre-call activity could be aggregating stuff in a wiki topic…either in services of creating an outline that feeds into the above, or for synthesizing artifacts later on…

Yeah seems like a good idea. I think it’d be important to reduce friction here and make things as simple as possible, so it could be fun to play around w/ a few different simple templates and see how they work in practice!

When I read " collaboratively setting an agenda" or finding one, I am reminded somehow of circling. Its a technique for in person dialogue where certain rules are applied such that the revelation of certain things prior unknown to both conversation parties becomes possible. I think Guy Sengstock refers to it as blending background into foreground. You circle around a certain topic and discover perspectives and perceptions from the other person and through trust a common shared understanding is (or can be) created. alethia? the moment something veiled becomes unveiled.

Here is a podcast with Guy the Inventor/Discoverer of Circling:

Since some time Guy is joined by John Verveake ( creator of - Awakening from the meaning crisis) and some others where they try to extend circling even further. They call these experiments “dialogos” If you are interested in tha tI can provide some example links or you can search on YouTube.

I hope in some sense this makes sense