Menu of Interactive Session Formats

“Menu” of virtual session formats for CEC21

Standard Presentation Session (Possible in Zoom Webinar mode)

The session should be focused on an innovative, challenging theme or question. One to four presenters are given approximately 15 minutes each to present material related to the theme of the session. Following the presentations the session convener then facilitates a question and answer session between speakers and the audience using the Q&A function on Zoom. Variations could include pre-recording the presentations, and/or using a more interactive discussion format instead of a Q&A – i.e. using the Whiteboard function in Zoom or Miro board or Google Jamboard to gather inputs from the participants on a set of questions.

7-14-28 Presentation Session (Possible in Zoom Webinar mode)

7-14-28 presentation is a rapid-fire showcase of ideas, innovations, and theories. Speakers have a 7-minute time limit for their talk utilizing a deck of no more than 14 slides that have a minimum 28-point font size for any text. 7-14-28 allows speakers to focus on the essentials of their subject, while offering an audience the chance to enjoy multiple presentations in one sitting. Following the presentations the session convener should then facilitate a question and answer session between speakers and the audience using the Q&A function on Zoom. Variations could include pre-recording the presentations, and/or using a more interactive discussion format instead of a Q&A – i.e. using the Whiteboard function in Zoom or Google Jamboard to gather inputs from the participants on a set of questions.

Panel Session (Possible in Zoom Webinar mode)

Panel sessions are a great way to get more than one expert opinion on a topic in a short amount of time. Panels consist of three-to-five people with preferably contradictory opinions discussing a specific topic in a conversation moderated by a session chair. The session should be framed around a clear question, which is introduced by the chair. Each panel member then has 3 – 5 minutes to give a position statement introducing their opinions. The chair should then facilitate a question and answer session among the panel members (max 1/3 of the session time) before inviting questions from the audience using the Q&A function on Zoom.  

Fishbowl Session (Possible in Zoom Webinar mode)

Four to five participants are pre-selected to be the first active participants of the ‘inner circle’. This is the fishbowl. They will have their cameras active during the best part of the session. The remaining session participants will have their cameras turned off – they are ‘outside the fishbowl’ The moderator introduces the topic and the participants inside the fishbowl start discussing the topic. The audience outside the fishbowl listens in on the discussion. Any member of the audience can, at any time, request to join the fishbowl, replacing one of the existing members. Those who want to join send a request to the moderator including a comment who they want to replace. The moderator has to smoothly transition this shift, with the exiting member turning off their camera, and the incoming member turning theirs on. The discussion continues with participants entering and leaving the fishbowl. Depending on how large the audience is you can have many audience members spend some time in the fishbowl and take part in the discussion. When time runs out, the fishbowl is closed and the moderator summarizes the discussion. The challenge for the speakers is to speak in a way that leaves space for non-speakers to join in. During the majority of the discussions, there are many others in the circle who are not visible. It is therefore helpful to make everyone aware of who is present, i.e. spend a few minutes in the beginning asking everyone to turn their cameras on, having a brief check in to just see all the people who are in the session.

Campfire Session (Possible in Zoom normal mode with minor changes)

Campfire Sessions begin a lot like a traditional presentation, with a speaker (or multiple speakers) at the presenting an idea to a group of people. After 15 or 20 minutes, however, the focus shifts from the presenter to the audience. The goal is the creation of an open forum in which the attendees generate the majority of the discussion and knowledge sharing. For the remainder of the session, the presenter becomes a facilitator, inviting responses to comments and questions from those around the room and letting the audience dictate the ultimate direction of the conversation. Campfire sessions allow attendees to drive their own learning, listen to multiple perspectives on the same issue, and share experiences with individuals throughout the room. Campfire sessions also lend themselves to networking. In order to create the space for this kind of conversation online it is helpful to start the session with a few minutes of breakout groups and also insert some breakout elements in between – sending small groups of 3 – 5 people off for 5 – 10 minutes to discuss a specific issue, then brining their ideas back to the plenary - depending on how many people are participating.

World Café Session (Possible in Zoom normal mode combined with a Miro board or similar for harvesting notes from the breakout ‘tables’ or ‘rooms’ )

The World Café is a format designed to encourage a flow of conversation between participants, facilitate broad audience participation, and enable a more sustained discussion. Attendees are assigned to online ‘tables’ or breakout ‘rooms’ with four-to-six participants. The process begins with a brief introduction and a “big” question, which attendees are asked to discuss (generally for about 15 minutes). Participants use Miro board or a similar whiteboard function to capture their discussions. Once time is up, all-but-one of the participants from each ‘room’ move to a different group and repeat the process. The person who stays functions as a "table/room host" and reviews what was discussed during the previous rounds. Following two to three rounds of discussions, key points from each ‘room’ are presented (i.e. while sharing Miro board) to the whole group for a final collective discussion.

Speed Geeking Session (Possible with Zoom or wonder-me. The former is more structured, the latter more free-flowing)

A set of ‘active experts’ is pre-selected, and a brief of their ‘expertise’ shared in advance of the session. The remaining members of the session are geeks who want to learn from these experts. Ideally there are about 6-7 participants to each ‘active expert’. One person acts as the facilitator.

In Zoom, the session proceeds as follows: The audience is split up into breakout groups and each group is assigned to one of the ‘active experts’. The experts have 5 minutes to introduce their work and answer questions. At the end of the five minutes, the facilitator shifts the breakout group members into a room with the next ‘expert’. The session ends when every group has visited each ‘expert’. With Wonder-Me, each expert sets up a ‘circle’ and the participants of the session can ‘wonder’ from circle to circle freely.

Open Space Session (Possible with wonder-me / also possible with Zoom normal mode, involves some more prep effort, sign-up sheets)

The approach is most distinctive for its initial lack of an agenda, which sets the stage for the session’s participants to create the agenda for themselves. Typically, an "open space" session will begin with short introductions by a single facilitator of the general theme of the session and the "self-organizing" process called "open space." Then the group creates the working agenda, as individuals post their topics on an electronic bulletin board/whiteboard (i.e. Miro, Zoom whiteboard, Google Jamboard). Each individual "convener" of a breakout group takes responsibility for naming the topic, posting it on the board, setting up a ‘circle’ in wonder-me (or facilitating a breakout groom in Zoom), kicking off the conversation, and taking notes. These notes are usually presented back to the group in a final plenary, and/or complied into a proceedings document/joint Miro board that is distributed electronically to all participants.

Dialogue Session (new option, possible in Zoom normal mode)

This session is meant to provide a space to talk about presentations that were pre-recorded and watched by the participants before the conference. The idea is here to combine a) time for participants to exchange about the content and b) discuss questions and comments with the presenter. The session is opened by a brief framing by the session chair. Then the participants are moved into online breakout groups (3 people for 15min) in which they can discuss about their impressions and understanding from the presentation(s). The breakout groups are followed by 10min of hearing briefly from the groups which key issues they discussed and which questions they were talking about, including questions they would like to raise to the presenters. Important: The presenters do not respond immediately to the questions that were raised. First, several groups are heard (and those who may not have the chance to speak write their comments in the chat), only then the session moves into the next phase. In the next phase, the presenter(s) get the time to address the comments and questions raised by the groups. This phase is moderated by the session chair, including comments from the chat and also inviting direct questions from the participants, if feasible. After this phase the participants are sent into breakout groups again to discuss what they have heard and make draw implications from it. Upon return from the breakout groups the session is concluded by some final comments (feedback, take-away) from a few participants and closing remarks by the session chair.

In overview, the agenda would be:

Framing (3min)

Breakout Groups (15min)

Feed Forward (10min)

Dialogue with presenter(s) (30-40min)

Breakout Groups (15min)

Last comments from participants (5min)

Closing (2min)