An Open Space Meeting starts with an agenda setting phase which can last up to one hour. In the meeting only topics should be discussed that are important to the participants. Everybody can provide topics and if there are enough people interested in it, it will be on the agenda. The agenda will then be placed on the so called bulletin board which will be placed at a central spot – the marketplace.
The working groups will cease to exist once the issues have been solved or if there are no more people willing to invest time in the discussions. The results will be posted on an information board which is also placed in the marketplace. For the students, this entails that they can contribute to any working group they wish and also leave at any time. The Law of Two Feet turns this possibility into an obligation when it states that anyone must leave a group when he/she doesn’t contribute or learn something.
At the end of the meeting, experiences can be exchanged in the plenary; the concrete outcomes of the working groups will be made available electronically.
Didactical description of the method
Students sit in a circle (or in more concentric circles) at the beginning of the OST. The facilitator introduces the overall theme of the meeting (e.g. mobility) and encourages the students to form working groups. In order to found a working group, the person initiating it comes into the centre of the circle and presents his topic (e.g. introduction of city bikes for Graz). The topics are collected on the bulletin board which later will be the agenda and should also indicate where and when the working group meets. The bulletin board is centrally located in the marketplace, where also an information board will be put. On the information board the outcomes of the different working groups will be announced.
The working groups are self-organised and hence decide when they want to work and break and can also be dissolved at any time. If a new issue comes up, all that needs to be done is to put up the venue and time of the meeting and it can start working already. At the end of each working group, its founder is responsible that the results will be published on the information board. If the seminar lasts for several days, it is advisable to have the plenary convene at the end and beginning of each day.
Once the OST is completed, everybody assembles in the initial circle and students get the chance to speak about their experiences and feelings – this time can also be used to decide on follow-up activities. The outcomes of the meetings will be sent electronically to everyone.
Enough rooms for break-out sessions, poster walls and posters for the bulletin board and information board, markers, paper and flipcharts for the groups.