Open Space – Self Organizing Conference Learning

By Ryan Mitchell on August 30, 2013 in Conference

A few years ago I was introduce to the concept of Open Space at training I went to and was blow away by its potential.  While many people haven’t heard of Open Space, once explained, they intuitively understand it.  The concept emerged when some people began to notice that most of the learning and real work at conferences, didn’t happen in sessions or keynotes, but in between sessions, afterwards and on coffee breaks.


From that they developed Open Space – A self organizing learning conference session.  We decided to incorporate this into the Tiny House Conference at the very end because people will have all these ideas swirling in their heads and some will want to talk about that one burning question they have yet to get answered.  That’s what Open Space is all about!

The process is simple:

  1. Participants take a sheet of paper, write down a suggested topic, question etc
  2. They place the sheet of paper on the wall to determine a place and time for the discussion
  3. They then share with the group what the topic is and where/when the conversation will take place
  4. After the wall is filled, people choose a topic, meet the others interested in that topic, and start talking


What this allows you to do is take control over your own learning, to get all those unanswered questions resolved and meet people who are interested in your interest.  Below is a video of how it looks in practice.


About the Author

Ryan MitchellView all posts by Ryan Mitchell
Ryan Mitchell lives in Charlotte, NC, where he has been leading the Tiny House movement for years now. In 2009 he decided to become a part of it by launching this website He is currently building his tiny house on 25 acres. He focuses on alternative housing options and sustainable local agriculture as key components to meet future needs. His expertise include tiny house construction, building systems, codes and zoning.


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