Watch this video to see 'Purpose to Practice' in action...

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The purpose of 'Purpose to Practice Co-developing Community Guidelines with Purpose to Practice'

To co-develop a set of “community guidelines” for the class with students, using a structured approach called Purpose to Practice (a liberating structure) which reminds us all that while guidelines are often lists of practices/behaviors that are acceptable/unacceptable in a certain context, they should always be rooted in the purpose behind them.

Activity description

  • Useful for
  • Preparation
  • How to do it
  • Duration
  • Adaptations
  • Technical requirements

Creating a safe space collaboratively with students, promoting reflection. Can be done at the beginning of the semester, revised in the middle of the semester.

Encourage students to bring to class any “codes of conduct” or “community guidelines” they have seen before, and/or bring your own, so that students can have a starting point if they are unfamiliar with this notion.

Prepare slides with instructions.

Prepare a collaborative space for brainstorming. Best if it is a visual space that allows creating and moving sticky notes of different colors - like Jamboard or Mural.

Conduct the Purpose to Practice activity in small groups as described in the Liberating Structures website with 1-4-all embedded (i.e. give students time to think on their own before sharing with four others and working together before sharing with the full group). The process basically goes in rounds of agreeing on a purpose as a whole group, then in small groups, writing out principles, participants, structures and practices that would be needed to achieve the group’s purposes. In the video, we do the “purpose” part a bit too fast.

This can be done early in the semester but is likely to benefit from revision midway through the semester.

This could take an entire class session if you do it synchronously.

Here are some adaptations and alternative tools: 

  • You can ask students to work on this in pairs asynchronously (students can meet synchronously outside class time) or different students to work on different parts of it.
  • You can show students a sample community guidelines document and encourage them to annotate it, like the Annotated Syllabus (see Remi Kalir’s video in this collection).
  • You can ask students to vote on suggested edits to a starter list of guidelines.
  • Breakout rooms to divide students into smaller groups.
  • Some space for collaborative editing. It could simply be a Google doc for each group, but something more visual like Jamboard (from Google), Mural or Miro can help so people can move sticky notes around. The video uses Jamboard which is free. Mural and Miro have a small learning curve and more features.

Additional resources

Purpose to Practice Liberating Structures description

Slide deck used in the video 

Sample guidelines shared in the video (mostly not for classes):

Sample guidelines for online classes for students to remix:

Shades of Noir

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How do I use these resources?

We have created a welcome video and some introductory text that explains in detail how to use these resources. You can also find answers to some key questions below. 

Yes you can. We have included descriptive text and slides that you can reuse / adapt for this reason. We have suggested some variations for activities to help you make adaptations.

We show how much time an activity should take and what resources you need to help you make a decision.

As we include more resources over time you will have a greater choice of activities and more information about the different contexts within which they work best. 

Any technique can block some people out, make them feel unwelcomed, or be used in a way that privileges some and makes it harder on others.

All of these techniques should be used in conjunction with pedagogies of care and what we call Intentionally Equitable Hospitality

If you try an adaptation of this activity, or try it as is and have interesting results to share, please contribute your adaptation/reflection in the comments or get in touch through social media / email.

Coming soon: there will be room to discuss these activities in private discussion forums in OneHE’s.

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