Open Space Conference


Open Space Conference

Since the motto for the conference was interaction and participation the Open Space session was a very important part of the program.

It took place during two hours and was lead by Oleg Chikurov, President of Pskov Regional Adult education Association.
A few important instructions were given:
• Obey the law of two feet! If you are bored and not contributing - go somewhere else.
• Each group needs to have facilitator and a note taker.
• There can be bumble bees flying from group to group pollinating the discussion on their way.
• There can be butterflies – like bar hangers observing but maybe not contributing visibly.

After these quick words of orientation the audience started to move in the big conference hall. Some people wrote an important issue on a poster paper to attract others to join the proposed discussion.

Quickly six groups emerged:

1. Learning on the journey from hospital to community
2. As adult educators how can we connect to the learner’s voice eg Fredrik’s with the issues of equal opportunities raised earlier today?
3. The digital divide
4. Difficult decisions – How can we help politicians to prioritize?
5. How to lose weight when you are over 50 – and keep it down?
6. Adult education for solidarity and sustainability

Life outside the classrooms

After more than one and a half hour of vivid discussions with both butterflies and bumble bees moving around the groups made short summaries of their activities:
From group one a discussion based on Fredrik’s presentation was reported. Experiences from life outside the classrooms should be counted in the “exam” system was the recommendation.
Internet is everywhere and offers a lot of tools which help us cooperate over different kinds of borders. Group two reported a good and fruitful discussion in which it was concluded that the digital divide indeed is there and that this is a very important issue when talking about equality in education and training.
Group three wanted to use the statement from the conference to promote life experience as something that should be counted on in all qualification systems. The concept of equal opportunities should include and embrace life experiences as a strength.
We need to be visible as adult educators, was the message from group four. We need to get things done. Data and dialogue with politicians are important.

Weight is a life style question

The most enjoyable discussion seemed to take place in group five from which lots of laughs were heard. The group concluded that weight is a life style question and that this very much is a matter of adult learning. Don’t eat to balance your feelings. Eat when you are hungry!
Group six wanted to broaden the minds of adult educators and their organisations by bringing up many more issues for courses and educational programs inspired by the UN decade for Learning for a sustainable development.
As a result of a common language – Russian – one group was added to the other six. It was lead by Oleg himself. The discussion in the group dealt with the fact that for many educators in the Baltic states have Russian as their first foreign language meaning that their fluency in English, the language of the conference, in their own opinion was less good. The group also had a discussion on issues concerning rural development in Latvia.

Open Space Conference
Open Space Conference.
Oleg Chikurov, president of PRAEA, Russia.
Oleg Chikurov, president of PRAEA, Russia.
Introduction to Open Space Conference (pdf)

Britten Månsson-Wallin
It was an interesting session, we really worked like a study circle, states Britten Månsson-Wallin, The Swedish National Council of Adult Education.