Watch this video to see 'Conversation cafe' in action...

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The purpose of 'Conversation cafe'

According to the Liberating Structures website, it “engages everyone in making sense of profound challenges. It can be used to address difficult or confusing topics, build trust and share perspectives.”

Activity description

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

Encouraging equitable conversations and perspective-taking. Encouraging constructive listening.

Prompt, instructions, and space for students to take notes.

This activity involves sending students into breakout rooms of 4-5 with timed rounds of conversation to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to participate. They will need one person to be the “host” and manage time and take notes (though you could split those roles).

Detailed Liberating Structures description: 

Virtual conversation cafe description here.

At a minimum: Around 16 minutes if you have 4 participants per group, or 20 minutes if you have 5 participants in the group. However, you can increase the time for the “open” round of conversation to 10 minutes instead of 4-5.

Students can meet outside class time to do the exercise and report back.

Breakout rooms and either asking students to record them, or take notes in a shared space like a Google slide or Google doc. 

Additional resources

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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.

Please join the OneHE mailing list to make sure you know when this community space has been launched.

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