Special Event Focus—Open Space Explained

October 01, 2015 9:05 PM | Deleted user
Research shows that engaging learners in the learning process can:
  • increase their attention and focus
  • motivate them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills
  • promote meaningful learning experiences

OPEN SPACE can help engage learners, but why would I use this method instead of another?


  • SAVES time and prep because a detailed, advanced agenda, plans and materials are not needed. Participants totally influence the direction, content and outcomes.   
  • IS EASY to get started with a very brief icebreaker or allow a few minutes for participants to catch-up with one another. Each participant might introduce themselves by sharing a short story about who they are.
  • ELIMINATES the need for tables or desks to be set-up. The environment, however, should be large enough to hold the entire group with space to move around. Participants usually sit in a large circle.
  • WORKS for any group size, but less than 20 people may limit a diverse exchange.
  • PROVIDES immediate response for the needs of each participant because they decide what they want to learn. Participants consider what burning questions or topics they want addressed.
  • GIVES participants control to go somewhere else if they find they aren't learning or contributing to an original group or topic.
  • ALLOWS participants to share knowledge with one another. How often have you asked your peers for information or suggestions on something you need? Everyone has some skill or knowledge they can share. Any participant who feels they can contribute to the discussion on the topic should do so. Participants consider what areas of expertise they can offer to others.
  • CAN be done in one day, but the most powerful sessions go on for two or three days. Participants gather together briefly to share experiences and announce topics. The rest of the day is spent in intense conversation.
  • CLOSES the session with participants sharing commitments, next steps, and observations about what the event. It’s best to conduct the wrap-up in a circle to allow anyone the opportunity to say what was of significance and what they propose to do.

Open Space is a combination of order and chaos that brings together people who are really interested in exploring something they care deeply about.  

Please join your peers for this special event to experience Open Space on October 29 – 30 from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm at the UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education downtown.  Register today!

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