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Workshop Methods

Workshops are a method of involving people who are directly affected by a technology or a technological problem. Such persons may be members of the public, users or people who assess technology.


The general aim of a workshop method is to prepare an action proposal and to enter into a dialogue with those people who are directly affected by the technology or the technological problem. It is these people who are to play a part in the technological assessment and the preparation of action proposals, and, with the help of these players, the workshop method seeks to carry out a closer study of reality and expose barriers.
A workshop comprises several phases. The number of phases and the content of each individual phase varies from workshop to workshop, but generally workshops start with a critical analysis phase based on people’s own experiences of the subject. Following this phase, participants are asked to be visionary in seeking possible solutions to the problems. The final phase involves the preparation of an action proposal.
All workshop models alternate between plenum sessions and group


work consisting of groups of 4 to 8 people. Following an introductory plenum session, people work in groups on the first phase. Each phase ends with a plenum session at which the latest group results are presented for the other groups. Then the process consultant presents the work of the next phase. It is also possible to include a work form whereby people can vote on what to continue working on.
The results of the workshop lead to a number of more or less concrete action proposals. It is the aim of some workshop models to equip participants to carry out the action proposals themselves but this is not a feature of all workshop models.
A workshop creates debate and dialogue, and this dialogue will often continue beyond the framework of the Board. New ties are forged and this can lead to further action on the part of participants through their respective networks.


In the following you can find a description of different workshop models, focusing on their individual characteristics. The workshop methods described are:
· The Future Workshop
· the Perspective Workshop
· the Future Search Conference

The Scenario Workshop and the European Awareness Scenario Workshop are described here.


The Future Workshop

The future workshop is the classic workshop model, and as such, the prototype for the other workshop models. The purpose of the future workshop method is to formulate concrete solutions and action proposals based on the participants’ own experiences so that they can put these into practice. These proposals will usually be in relation to a local issue or challenge or in connection with the planning of local action concerning a particular development.
A future workshop works best with 15-25 participants who are selected from among those directly affected by the problem and who are in a position to remedy it. The future workshop is a local initiative, arranged at local level with local participation.


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The Perspective Workshop

The perspective workshop has been developed by the Danish Board of Technology. The method focuses on strengths, weaknesses, possibilities and threats of a given technology or technological development. The perspective workshop is also a suitable tool for testing myths. Using the perspectives that emphasise both positive and negative aspects of a technology or technological development, technological myths are brought into focus and are discussed at the perspective workshop.
The perspective workshop is a kind of meeting where participants working in groups assess precise tasks and where group results are presented on wall newspapers and orally in plenum. The workshops works to a tight, 1˝-day schedule. This method comprises 36-48 participants, divided into 6 groups.

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The Future Search Conference

The aim of the conference is to find a common basis which all participants can endorse. By abdicating their usual rhetoric they shall open their minds to new ideas and action proposals. The purpose of the conference thus is to encourage the participants to think about a technological problem in
a new way. They are not supposed to solve their disagreements, rather setting those aside so that the time can be spent on constructive and insightful
debate.

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