Building a Good Idea Into a Great Workshop


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You've had a great idea for a program, presentation or workshop. Now what? Learn the elements of planning a great workshop and get some pro tips from a great trainer.

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  • You have a great idea – you play with a new tool, you learn a new hobby, you’re inspired by a program another library or other org is doing You see a need – people have been asking, you keep getting the same kind of questions about it, someone suggested it and you agreed
  • What is the goal? What should students be able to do by the end of your workshop?
  • List it out, make columns, mind map, whatever works For what you think you know, research a little – read a few articles or books. Are you right? Do others do it differently? Can you include (and credit) their ideas and your own? If you’ve sat down and been honest, and that dark green section is too big, don’t do the class. It’s frustrating for you, on top of the student experience. Note: If you decide you’re going to learn a thing in order to teach it – MAKE SURE YOU CAN DELIVER.
  • A single project might take multiple workshops if it’s complex enough, whereas an overview or demo-only might be a single session. A quick refresher, or update with new information, will take less time than a basic skills class.
  • I have one topic that I can do in as little as 15 minutes or as long as 3 hours – it’s all about how interactive and hands-on it gets. How well you know your topic is what gives you the ability to be flexible on all of these points.
  • Under 1 hour = no break Up to 2 hours = 10-15 minute break Up to 3 hours = 2 short breaks OR 1 long one (20 min) Up to 4 hours = 2 short breaks AND 1 long one A full day = morning, lunch, afternoon breaks
  • Always have a backup plan. Things *will* go wrong, and you’ll have to stall, improvise, change venues, change focus, etc. This is why you shouldn’t do a topic you don’t know well. Flexibility requires knowledge.
  • Much like developing a perfect recipe, creating a program takes iterative refinements. What was a struggle? What just didn’t flow well? What miracle inspiration did you have halfway through that you have to do from now on? What neat new thing has changed how you approach this topic? Target your presentations to your expected audience. One size and style does NOT fit all.
  • Building a Good Idea Into a Great Workshop

    1. 1. Building a Good Idea Into a Workshop Jennifer Koerber Web Services, BPL September 28, 2011
    2. 2. An Overview <ul><li>Have an idea / See a need </li></ul><ul><li>Do you have the skill to teach? </li></ul><ul><li>Choose the scope </li></ul><ul><li>Determine class format and duration </li></ul><ul><li>Choose visual presentation format </li></ul><ul><li>Flesh out the program – exercises, handouts, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Present! </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate, refine and specify </li></ul>
    3. 4. Yes, but can you teach it? <ul><li>You need to know more about a topic to teach it than to just do it </li></ul><ul><li>Can you answer the random questions? </li></ul><ul><li>Can you give additional details to the advanced students? </li></ul><ul><li>Can you suggest next steps after your workshop? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you have a goal for your students? </li></ul>
    4. 5. Yes? Great! Here we go….
    5. 6. Choose the Scope…Carefully <ul><li>Overview or detailed? </li></ul><ul><li>Best practices? </li></ul><ul><li>Tips & tricks? </li></ul><ul><li>Specific project </li></ul><ul><li>Recent updates? </li></ul><ul><li>Comparing a variety of tools? </li></ul>
    6. 7. <ul><li>The topic will shape the workshop </li></ul>
    7. 8. Now, start to plan <ul><li>Draft a rough outline </li></ul><ul><li>Choose your class format </li></ul><ul><li>Set a skill level </li></ul><ul><li>Choose a location preference </li></ul><ul><li>Determine class length </li></ul>
    8. 9. Coffee!
    9. 10. Polish it up <ul><li>Research your topic for currency </li></ul><ul><li>Choose presentation format </li></ul><ul><li>Make the topic relevant – how is it useful? </li></ul><ul><li>Give examples or have samples </li></ul><ul><li>Plan and practice projects or exercises </li></ul>
    10. 12. Pro Tips – Presentations & Handouts <ul><li>Short and simple </li></ul><ul><li>Bulleted or numbered lists </li></ul><ul><li>Short memory jogs, not full descriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Use images whenever appropriate – especially screenshots or step-by-step photos </li></ul><ul><li>Leave space for notes </li></ul><ul><li>Include your contact information </li></ul>
    11. 13. Don’t overwhelm your audience
    12. 14. Pro Tips - Presenting <ul><li>Longer sessions = more interactivity </li></ul><ul><li>Provide your own equipment when you can </li></ul><ul><li>Get every kind of adapter cable known to humanity </li></ul><ul><li>Change the environment to suit you </li></ul><ul><li>Coffee and snacks (include protein or nuts) </li></ul><ul><li>Always have a backup plan </li></ul>
    13. 15. Evaluate, Refine & Target
    14. 16. Resources <ul><li>Science & Education Center at Carlton College </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>“ How to Develop a Training Workshop” </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>“ Planning a Workshop” </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>… and many more to be found by searching online for “how to develop a workshop” </li></ul>
    15. 17. Thank you! Jennifer Koerber [email_address] 617-859-2391