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Roundtable v0.03

Education needs to go beyond the lecture hall. 'Roundtable' is small groups of students, alumni and faculty who learn beyond the lecture.

Photo of James McBennett
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Innovation takes what is available to a few and provides it to everyone.

"The future is already here,  — it's just not very evenly distributed." William Gibson

The best educational institutions I know of stayed ahead in past decades through having the best libraries. The internet is changing that by opening up learning to everyone. They stay ahead through having the best networks, the internet is changing that too through new forms of social and professional networks. The other standout feature that is regularly overlooked of top institutions is how they learn in small groups beyond the class and lecture. At Cambridge and Oxford, students participate in weekly tutorials in addition to attending lectures and classes. At Harvard, they have the large lectures led by professors and then small groups with many TA's. They are usually one-on-one or in small groups no more than three.

"Student tutorials are generally more academically challenging and rigorous than standard lecture and test format courses, because during each session students are expected to orally communicate, defend, analyse, and critique the ideas of others as well as their own in conversations with the tutor and fellow-students. As a pedagogic model, the tutorial system has great value because it creates learning and assessment opportunities which are highly authentic and difficult to fake."

One of the world's leading high schools is Phillips Exeter Academy. There, they employ the Harkness teaching method, "a system based on a conference format of teacher and student interaction, similar to the Socratic method of learning through asking questions and creating discussions."

Other interesting roundtable stories are King Arthur, Starbucks and Pixar which I will share later. :)

Our idea is a small roundtable for everyone. Tiny online and on-campus forums where those with experience and knowledge mentor those who seek it on very specific topics. When I was in college, I couldn't speak to someone who graduated ten years before me easily and I didn't know anyone in my field, not did my parents. I desperately wanted to. Internet users today are not consumers of content as they were in internet 1.0, they have become participants and creators. At Roundtables, students are not there simply to listen as they do in lecture halls but to get involved. (via @Andrea Stadler)

There are a lot of questions still to be answered. Should this be 1 on 1 or limited to the amount of people that could share a pizza? When? How often? What is the agenda for the time spent at the roundtable? Should it be over food or on the internet in a discussion forum?


O N L I N E    V E R S I O N:

Alumni can be asked not only for their financial donations but for their time that workplaces can incentivize and reward those who participate. I've found that many people do not want to be full-time teachers but love doing it part-time on top of their busy careers. Clay Shirky talks about what people do in their spare time in his book 'Cognitive Surplus' detailing a generation of drinking gin followed by a generation of watching television to our current generation who built Wikipedia. At the Architectural Association in London, faculty are considered older students who are still learning, but are further ahead than the rest of the group. Recent alumni have a lot still to learn and might actively be interested in this kind of opportunity.


C A M P U S    V E R S I O N:

I believe content in the future will come from online lectures that expand the learning opportunity for students by allowing them to rewind and replay so they can truly grasp what are meant to learn. If they don't get it first time, just listen to it again and again. This opens up the conversation that if universities around the world are no longer focused on the lecture hall, what service will they provide? Small is the new big! Small conversations of talking to each other is how we will go forward.

Companies see recruiting as an expensive activity, this could be an alternative. Seth Godin speaks about in Purple Cow not simply promoting what you do, but showing what you do. Companies can do this by turning up at universities with their signage, but instead showing students how suitable they are through ongoing conversations throughout their education. (via @Kate Rushton)

Maybe the free model might not work. Instead clarity.fm provides an inspiring business model where people pay by minute for the mentors they want to get in touch with. While Clarity.fm is for startups, this service would be for students. (via @RINA)


T H E   A G E N D A

Without an agenda, this idea will likely be an awkward conversation with no purpose and lose traction. What will happen at these small groups is critical to their success. (via @MaxNoble)

Prototypes for types of Roundtables (needs more research!)

i) The Oxbridge Model (1 on 1 or 1 on 3)

ii) The Harkness Method (Group of 10)

iii) Center conversations around a student syllabus providing talking points. If a computer science class is about sorting and searching data, then a Roundtable agenda can be made on that topic to complement the lecture. 

iv) AMA - Ask Me Anything. One of of most popular formats on the internet to learn is currently absent from most university education.

W H A T   I S   N E E D E D ?

Opportunities to test this model out with real students/classes

More prototypes for types of roundtable. Who would participate? How would it be useful? How regular would it be? Where would it be? When would it be?

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

This is a potential solution to a problem I had while a student. It is for anyone who is seeking guidance and mentorship. Where Slack is about conversations between many people, Roundtable is for conversations at a smaller table.

This idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm
  • An individual

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Storyboarding examples

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

It would be great if we had some fellow OpenIDEO participants knew university students or schools to lead small groups. Possibly OpenIDEO chapters may play a role.

Tell us about your work experience:

I studied architecture at University College Dublin and later at the Architectural Association in London where I had the opportunity to learn from the world's best architectural thinkers. I trained at KPF, JDS, and OMA where I developed an interest in diagramming, prototyping, research, computational geometry, and storytelling. Leaving architecture, I participated in Startup Chile and ran a successul Kickstarter campaign. My dream now is beginning www.timbertail.com

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Photo of James McBennett
Team

Found this similar idea for entrepreneurs, but expanding to more topics.
www.circl.es

"Why Do So Many Business Leaders Have Peer Groups?
Over 100,000 CEOs and business owners spend more than a day each month with forums organized by Young President’s Organization, Entrepreneur’s Organization, Vistage and similar organizations. These groups cost $5,000 to $10,000 a year and up. Why?

Peer groups help members solve problems, save them from reinventing wheels, and amplify knowledge and networks. A peer group becomes something like workout buddies so you can overcome obstacles, stick with a program, and sustain change. Even though we are linked to more people than ever, we are increasingly isolated. Confiding in a group of peers is fulfilling even as it is worthwhile. It can connect friendship, learning, and earning.

We would carefully match you in a peer group of 7 other entrepreneurs who have similar goals and challenges as you. Over the course of 16 weeks you will meet in our video meeting room 8 times and work on those challenges with each other. Each circle has a guide who shows you how to run a meeting, set goals and learn from each other. Sixteen weeks later you emerge as a stronger founder, better learner, and possess a larger network of people from whom you can draw upon for support (or in your case, a place to crash).

We’ve been workshopping the product and process with other founders and have seen some awesome results so far. Our learning methodology has been developed in partnership with some real pioneers in the field and we’ve built an advisory board of CEOs and thought leaders from organizations like YPO, General Assembly, MIT Media Lab, The Aspen Institute, and The Center for Curriculum Re-design at Harvard University."

Photo of An Old Friend
Team

Hi James! I like your idea (and I'm also a furniture maker!).

As an alum, I can tell you that I'd be happy to get in touch with current students to talk about career paths. That's a good way of providing a service that students can rely on as an honest, not so affiliated, point of view/reality check.

Photo of Max Noble
Team

@DeletedUser , I love the name RoundTable. However we also need a shortened version. Any ideas ? RT?haha. How did "Meet-up" get started? the name is self explanatory.
So the core of each Roundtable is the "topic of interest" or better yet the "agenda". Makes people feel more prone to action as opposed to just talking.

Lucy Chen I've been to a TEDx local group...Roundtable is going to be much cooler, Everyone comes with a problem in the field of topic, and everyone goes home with "homework"(TmaxRnD strategy).

Photo of James McBennett
Team

the domain table.io is available for $10k, :)

I think you are right in your previous comment that the priority should be setting and conducting prototypes of various types of agenda, use-cases, problems solved, target audiences, age ranges, subjects this works best for early on and so on.

Photo of Max Noble
Team

That's $9980.05 too much.
Developing digital solutions on the fly is cool...like brain storming, but with a hyper fast feedback rate...it's a rush. It doesn't get anymore real time than that.

Photo of Lucy Chen
Team

Very interesting James McBennett 

Wonder if you have thought of what is the unique difference and similarities of Roundtable 2.0 compared to the local chapters like TEDx local groups, OpenIDEO local chapters, even more self-organized Meetups.

Couple questions I am thinking:
1 Do you intend to implement it in a more resourceful areas, like university, city? Or places with less resources? What might be the difference?

2 What are some design can be implemented to facilitate self-reflection and continuous learning after discussion. One thing I find great about symposiums is that it inspires. However, for the inspiration to have a lasting effect, new information needs to be fed to scaffold a person's learning?

My school goes around the world (Minerva School) and we heavly rely on leveraging local resources for our learning. Would be interested to see how Minerva students would be able to learn more using this format.

Photo of James McBennett
Team

I don't know much about OpenIDEO chapters, but have organised TEDx events in the past and attended events on Meetup.com. For the last two, the relationship is usually event based and doesn't last over a long period of time which is certainly and intended point of difference.

1. Available everywhere. Nevertheless it would need a focus to get started and be useful with a specific group type and specific problem solved or opportunity created. That question must be answered with prototypes and feedback.

2. I agree events can be too passive. Weekly or monthly meetups is a completely different experience.

For Minerva, would you be interested in organizing a group? Ten or so people for weekly or monthly projects to learn from with some alumni, some faculty and some students.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi. I find this idea and conversation inspiring!
I have a question - Are you proposing small groups of people learning together with a goal to solve a problem, or is the learning more open ended - such as gathering to study and learn about a particular topic?

I have participated in a few of the OpenIDEO Chapter meetings in NYC. The ones I attended have revolved around the challenges, and were geared to a particular phase of a challenge, Research phase or Ideation. Sometimes the facilitators have brought in speakers for short, <30 minute, talks related to the challenge topic to start the session. This has been interesting and inspiring. There have also been group prototyping sessions related to challenges. The meetings I have attended have been different from what you are describing here but as it is a meet up I think it could be different things at different times depending on whatever one might propose, and interest from the group.

Photo of Max Noble
Team

@DeletedUser I think that meeting with other people to learning is a great model and important for the future. The people who can collaborate will do better then those who can't. Networking and collaborating is not taught or practiced enough in school. So we are on the right track. We are moving from study groups to something more organized and hopefully more productive.

How do we make the round tables productive? We need to establish a model for people to follow.

Meet-up is a similar model. We could do beta testing on their platform and then specialize it into education.

Photo of James McBennett
Team

I agree that what happens at a roundtable makes or breaks this idea. Similar to a comment on this thread, i think this also needs to be prototyped with several cases measuring each for usefulness.

Photo of Khuyen Bui Gia
Team

Hi James McBennett I'm a student from Tufts university and I know our Career Center often hosts events that bring alumni for a chat with students, but they usually are in person. We are encouraged to reach out to alumni on our own though. Usually students are told to prepare on how to make the most of out these sessions.

Photo of James McBennett
Team

Yup, that sounds like the usual suspects. My experience of what you are describing is about introductions, not about learning. Making opportunities for learning is great for the people who come back to teach who dive deeper in their knowledge of the subject and great for the people who receive the tuition who gain an extra module from which they can learn from.

Photo of Max Noble
Team

@DeletedUser Great round-table idea. Amazing things can happen in small groups. Have you thought about how to maximize the experiences and learning?

Photo of James McBennett
Team

I guess you mean the specifics? Indeed, It might be worth storyboarding examples?

Photo of Max Noble
Team

James McBennett , from experience I find the best to maximize a small group is to pre-design it to match learning objective. ie, I've created rules to gamifiy and organize brain storming sessions. It makes the learning and collaborating fun and productive.

Photo of James McBennett
Team

You make a very good point. Small groups with ambiguous routines is certainly not enough to propose. We will need to add a lot to this section.

Photo of Andrea Zelenak
Team

Hello again!

First of all, I love the hierarchy and self-kerning.

I love this idea. I connect with this, not sure how your school was, but in my product design program discussion and conversation was probably 50% of our curriculum.

A few things to keep in mind,
1. Mediators: The role of a professor could be a mediator and facilitator in order to lead and sway conversation (almost like the governmental debates)
2. Groupthink: Have you ever heard of the Mandela Effect? When you're part of a group you can kind of conform and think a certain way. One thing that was cool in one of my classes was seeing how two separate groups within the same class thought and came up with entirely different results.
3. - All voices heard: Somehow think about how you can get everyone's voice heard. Naturally, some people are more dominant than others. Maybe giving each person a chance to lead or be a mediator would be beneficial to them and the group.

As for implementation of the idea: OpenIDEO Chapters!
Are you involved in a chapter at all? https://beta.openideo.com/chapters
If you came up with some type of plan or lesson for each group could try, you could blast it out to a few chapters and see if they'd be interested in giving you feedback!

Photo of James McBennett
Team

Hey Andrea! Very interesting. I didn't know about OpenIDEO chapters, been a while since I checked out what's going on on OpenIDEO and this wasn't there last time. It's a great initiative! Sadly I'm not in one of those cities, but not sure how long I'm staying in Nashville, TN, so we'll see. Are you part of the Detroit chapter? Could you organise something along these lines?

My education was very discussion orientated but design school with its studio environment tends to be that way inclined. Most other faculties are not that way.

1. Mediators are great. The Harkness method mentioned above has teachers at the table and sometimes PhD's, but the hierarchy is meant to be neutral-ish despite the teaching staff is most often far better prepared which is fine.

2. The Filter Bubble is also a great read on group think which Eli Pariser also did a TED Talk. It is great to be able to do a class twice to see evidence of group think first hand.

3. When I was at LSE for a short course, each week had a different student leader and presentation. Put so much effort into mine which many other students did the same.

Look forward to more of your contributions.

Photo of RINA
Team

Have a great business model for professionals to share knowledge, earn money and mentor the next generation. Professionalstalkshop!

Photo of James McBennett
Team

Indeed. Something like https://clarity.fm/ would be the paid option, switch startups for students. Will edit idea over weekend including your addition. Thank you!

Photo of RINA
Team

Clarity is not a bad model but I was thinking more along the lines of professionals within fields validating the knowledge and sharing insights. Producers and consumers and only highly rated producers could become mentors. Mentor relationships could take many forms and durations from novice to expert or expert to expert.

Photo of James McBennett
Team

I still believe this very similar to clarity.fm....
My experience of restricting things to 'highly rated' usually results in not getting the highly rated.

Photo of Andrea Stadler
Team

Hi James!

The part that really resonates with me is the "method of learning through asking questions and creating discussions" - I've always wondered about a school that does something to what openideo does. Ask driving questions, students choose the ones that they'd like to learn more about. The driving questions could come from students themselves, which they would post and see who joins to help solve them. With you roundtable discussion, they can ask more questions and find more answers.

Photo of James McBennett
Team

Web 1.0 was an internet that lectured to its audience. Web 2.0 asked the audience to be participants. Maybe education needs to get with the times and realise that technology can push education from 1.0 to 2.0 through allowing conversations over lectures. Good point! Thank you.

Photo of Andrea Stadler
Team

This is my role as a tech coach... going from 1.0 to 3.0, from audience, to participants, to creators.

Photo of Andrea Stadler
Team

We should create a team with Personal Learning Coach, Project/Passion finding/solution based projects that are created through internships, and moved forward through roundtables... thoughts?

Photo of James McBennett
Team

Internships are very different but also essential. I think they should be just called career prototypes, but that's another story.

I think who is at the table will vary depending on who its for. I am reminded me of a design thinking team asking a client of consumer goods what ideas they liked. They constantly pointed to one person's ideas who wasn't part of the original team but was a homeless addict who was invited to contribute ideas. Turned out they knew a thing or two about how to get people hooked on a product and delivered these insights in great detail. Proposing who would be at each table might be an interesting sub-project! :)

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi James,

This is interesting!

I like the use of alumni in this way.

When I worked for a consultancy I had to right targets that were relevant to my day job and targets that were more ‘lose’, including mentoring, communication, raising the profile of the company, etc. This could be useful in helping alumni have a portfolio of non-work related activities for their appraisals.

It also raises the profile of the company in the eyes of graduates in a different and cheaper way to graduate recruitment fairs.

I am sure many alumni would enjoy this for the pleasure and human connections. For the reasons above, businesses might be interested to.

It is focused on careers advice but it is an interesting way of doing things.

I am sure you probably read these posts but if you haven’t, they might give you a few ideas:

http://www.startupdaily.net/2015/06/sydney-startup-meetisan-wants-help-uni-students-find-study-buddies-project-collaborators/

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

These ones:

Networking Apps & Sites 
(Professional) Life stories inspire for professional career paths 

Photo of James McBennett
Team

Very interesting links! Thanks Kate! Learning about whatchado from TEDx talk, super cool! I'll rewrite above text based on your input.