CW14 Discussion sessions

Discussion sessions allow a group of people discuss a topic of their particular interest. They are a fundamental part of the Collaborations Workshop and  help people learn about new ideas and work on solving shared problems.

Schedule and topics 

The break out topics schedule is available as a Google spreadsheet.

You can also see the topics that are up for discussion.

How does it work?

We present a list of the break out topics and everyone votes for the topic that they want to discuss. Based on the vote, we split into groups, and move to one of the break out rooms for the discussion.

Each discussion session lasts an hour. That's not enough time to discuss the subject in depth, but we find it's about the right amount of time to determine the main points.

What to do

In the first five minutes, you should choose a Chair and a Scribe/Reporter. The Chair makes sure that everyone's voice is heard, and keeps everyone on topic (not easy). The Scribe notes down the pertinent points from the discussion and will then Report back (it's important that the Scribe also Reports back for the sake of efficiency and accuracy).

A good way to start is to ask people what they want from the discussion. Are people looking to solve a problem, wanting to promote a solution, or do they simply want to more about the topic? If you can get a handle on what people want from the discussion, it's much easier to keep everyone on topic.

Focus on what can be changed! It's easy with some topics to focus on a discussion of the problems and overlook the process of finding a solution.

In the last ten minutes the Scribe should be able to distil the discussion and answer the questions in the reporting back template, namely (it's worth reviewing the report back with the rest of the discussion team prior to e-mailing to allow any amendments):

Email template for reporting back

Name of Chair:

Name of Scribe:

What are the five most important things learnt during this discussion:

What are the problems, and are there solutions?

What further work could be done, and who should do it (make a pledge)?

Are there any useful resources that people should know about?

Email the filled-in template

The filled-in template will be recorded by the Scribe in an email. To make it easy to find the recorded information, the email's subject line should say which discussion session it was (eg. Session 1) and the Question of the discussion topic. At the end of the session the Scribe should send the filled-in template to the mailing list.

Reporting back  

The reporting back session allows each of the discussion groups to report on their discussions; to make things easier and more accurate this year we are stating that the Scribe should present the group report back.

Each reporting back presentation should:

  • Last about five minutes.
  • Have three minutes of presentation.
  • End with two minutes of questions.

The presentation should cover the particular problems, solutions and pledges - people will have the mailing list to refer back to for followup and longer discussions.

Rather than using Powerpoint, the emailed template from the discussion group will be projected on a screen and used during the reporting back session.

The final product

Even reporting back to the workshop isn't enough. It's important that the conclusions from the workshop are made available to people who could not attend the workshop, so we will make all notes available on the Software Sustainability Institute's website soon after CW14.