Liberating Structures are a set of facilitation techniques that you can use to help make your teaching and learning (and meetings and other collaborations) more engaging and inclusive. There is a website, a book and an app all available as resources and, at press time, there were 33 ‘liberating structures’ available to either replace or add value to conventional practices.

For educators, they can help you build in tiny participatory shifts in how you and your learners interact, negotiate and relate to one another.  A bonus is they are simple and easy to use, but pack a punch in unleashing contributions.

Try it out! Go to the Liberating Structures website or download the iOS or Android app and explore the different techniques (you might want to drill down to the Education section with the Topics available). The website contains great examples, but you might want to dig into these goodies from:

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  • It's Liberating (Helen DeWaard, @hj_dewaard)

    This blog post describes some of the connections made from two liberating structures used in a recent conference session at the Creative Commons Global Summit and teaching strategies already being used in the classroom.

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This work by Joanne Kehoe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

2 Responses to “Liberate an engaging and inclusive atmosphere”

  1. Darren Stanley

    I’ve used a number of these approaches in my classes as well as in some conference sessions in my past life. Most recently, I tried what I (and others) have called the “Mad Hatters Tea Party”! It was like speed dating! All the same, the activity unleashed the class in a full-on engagement of deep questions, posed by me, about teaching and learning in different learning contexts. The class will active, boisterous, and thoroughly engaged. It was a surprised to most who had never thought they could engage as such in an undergraduate class! Complex questions are key…great for variable entry into a conversation where all can participate and contribute!

    I attribute these techniques to Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless. Two wonderful, playful collaborators in engaging others in meaningful conversation and action! Think-Pair-Share, Troika Consulting methods, fish bowls conversations were always a regular part of my work with them in our conference engagements!

    More info can be learned by going to:

  2. Darren Stanley

    Another related term comes to mind: “liberating constraints”. I can appreciate the notion that liberating structures is intended to bring more people into conversations and such. All the same, freedom to create cannot happen without some kind of constraint. Not in the sense of following some set of rules. In other words, prescribed rules will not do much to “liberate” people and their thinking. It’s more in line with what Maturana and Varela might call “proscribed” rules…rules that say, “So long as you don’t do [X], [Y], and [Z]…you can do anything!”


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