World Café is an interactive group session that is centered on conversation. It allows the participants to engage in a creative process whereby they can share knowledge in a somewhat informal fun setting. The learning environment is set up like a café (hence the name) where the participants sit in tables of approximately four people and they hold a series of ‘rounds of conversation’ related to a topic/issue relevant to their course (details of the set-up are outlined below). This method can be modified to meet a variety of needs making it an ideal teaching method. When preparing for a World Café the instructor must be cognisant of the importance of framing questions that get the participants engaging from the outset. It can be a series of questions or maybe even just one. It is important to encourage participants in to engage in a meaningful way and to also follow the key guidelines set out by the instructor.
Café set up adapted from:
• Seat a small group (4-5 max) around a table
• Set up rounds of conversation (these can vary from 5-20 minutes depending on the time available). There should be a minimum of three rounds and each round must be equal in length
• Questions related to a topic or issue are engaged while other small groups explore similar questions at nearby tables
• All participants must be encouraged to write and draw key ideas on their chart [;aced in the centre of the table
• After the first round of conversation, ask one person to remain at the table as the ‘host’. Everybody else rotates to an alternative table.
• The table host welcomed the new guests and briefly shares the main ideas, themes and questions from the previous group. The host should encourage guests to link and connect ideas coming from their previous table conversations
• In the final round of conversation, people can return to their home (original) tables to synthesise their discoveries.
• A whole group discussion should follow this in which the information should be collated
Why does World Café work?
This inquiry based process allows people to listen to each other and to share their ideas and when the participants move to a new table they become ‘ambassadors’ of their previous shared conversation which allows them to then build on from this. The process maximises the generation of new ideas allows the participants to have a productive experience by thinking as a group and interacting with one another. This process can allow for stakeholder involvement in a highly engaging yet informal setting.