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How to plan a workshop in 10 steps

I was helping someone plan a workshop today. While I was no expert in the content, it made me realise there’s a common structure I’ve come to use.

1. Briefly introduce the workshop leaders. You’ll demonstrate your expertise later, and presumably the attendees were impressed enough by your credentials to book a place.

2. Allow participants to say something. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but you could ask them to rank how they’re feeling out of 10, or finish the sentence, “if you really knew me, your know that…”

3. Get participants to do something. It doesn’t really matter what it is, but if you’re using a new tool later, this is a good, low-stakes opportunity to ensure everyone can access it. You could ask people to add a stick note to a physical wall or a Google Jamboard indicating what they’re hoping to get out of the workshop.

4. Go through the structure of the workshop. Explain what you’ll be covering, when the breaks are, etc. Ideally, link this back to the previous activity, outlining how the workshop will meet the participants’ requirements.

5. Provide some input. If you need to explain a concept, go through some theory, or otherwise lecture participants, do it now! Try to keep it to 15 mins, then stop for questions. If you’ve got two workshop leaders (always a good idea!) switch it you need to provide more input.

6. Stop for a 15 min break. Tailor the length of your breaks to the needs of your participants (accessibility, age, etc.) but give them at least 15 mins.

7. Practice. After asking for any further questions after the break* give participants a chance to practice what they’ve been taught. If there’s no immediately-obvious way to do this, break into pairs or small groups to discuss how they could apply what they’ve learned in their job/life.

8. Provide a space to park ideas and people. Deal with latecomers, off-topic ideas, and other miscellaneous things by having a ‘clinic’ breakout room and ‘Parking lot’ board.**

9. Check in after lunch. Ask people what they had to eat. Food is an easy way for a group to bond.

10. Ask participants to commit to next steps. If there’s a follow-up workshop, set homework. If there’s not, ask participants to commit to an action, and then follow up with them via email / social media / pigeon after a specified amount of time.


There’s plenty more workshop advice I could give, but I’ll stop there for now. Perhaps one more bit: although you should have dedicated Q&A time, there should never be a time when it’s not OK for participants to ask a question.


* always pause for longer than you think you need to (e.g. drink from a water bottle or coffee cup to prolong the pause)

** my friend Laura Hilliger calls this a ‘zombie garden’!


This post is Day 53 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com Posted in 100DaysToOffload

Weeknote 03/2020

I confess to almost forgetting to writing a weeknote this week. Thanks to Mike Cooke for the reminder! It’s funny how, when we’re nudged out of a routine, things can go sideways.


The main thing I did this week was go to Kuwait City to run a workshop for the AMICAL consortium on the strategic development of digital literacies. For a variety of reasons, I flew there on Tuesday, led the workshop on Wednesday, and flew back on Thursday.

Regular readers will know that, despite my efforts to eat well and keep fit, such stresses on my body don’t always end well. And so it was that on Thursday I succumbed to a cold, and then on Friday lunchtime, after a number of meetings for Moodle, I suffered from a migraine that knocked me sideways.

It’s my fault, of course. I should know better than to put myself through these things. It was the lack of sleep that got me, I think, but had I stuck around an extra day, my only option would have been to fly back at 3am local time. That wouldn’t have been ideal either.

The workshop went really well, and I was so pleased to meet such lovely people who were so receptive to the ideas I was sharing. I received some great feedback on everything from ambiguity to managing a workshop of around 25 people.

Kuwait City isn’t a place I’d hurry back to as a tourist, but I will say that the Lebanese food I had on Wednesday night was almost worth the trip in and of itself. Delightful.


I recorded a microcast for Thought Shrapnel about the workshop, as well as publishing an article about hierarchy, context, and ways we approach the question of how we should live. To this week’s roundup of links I added some comments, which I’ll continue to do if I can prioritise it.


Things are looking up for MoodleNet as the feeds (e.g. ‘My MoodleNet’) are now working. There’s still plenty to do, but I’ve worked closely with Martin Dougiamas, Moodle’s Founder and CEO, on the roadmap and resourcing.

We’ve always had the code on GitLab, but now we’ve moved the issues there too. You can view the issue board for the current milestone here. As Product Manager, it’s my job to walk a fine line between idealism and pragmatism when it comes to choosing tools. Everyone seems happier so far.


I’ve responded to a couple of requests for work through We Are Open Co-op this week, both of which sound really interesting. I’m going to start getting stuck into some existing work that my colleagues are doing this next week.

Other than that, it’s ensuring everyone has what they need for MoodleNet, and starting to scope out a new e-book. I was going to revise and expand The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies but, instead, I’m considering one with a similar title as my AMICAL workshop using Leanpub.

The week after next I’m in Barcelona for Moodle meetings and then off to London for a co-op meetup. And no, I won’t be at BETT.


Photo taken by Dimitris Tzouris and shared on Twitter

Join us in London on February 15th for BADGE BOOTCAMP!

Update: We’ve cancelled this workshop as we didn’t get enough sign-ups to make it viable. We’ll be launching something with the same name on the same day — stay tuned!


In yesterday’s webinar, my colleagues and I at We Are Open Co-op announced a live, in-person Open Badges workshop. We’re holding it in London on February 15th.

BOOK HERE

Early-bird tickets are now available and likely to sell pretty quickly, as we’re limiting them to ensure quality of interaction.

We’ll be covering:

  • What are Open Badges – and where did they come from?
  • How people are using badges in many different sectors
  • When it’s a good badges are a great idea – and
  • Why badges are the answer to lots of different problems
  • Who to connect to in the Open Badges community, and where

More details, including ticket prices, are on the Eventbrite page. I’d love to see you there! If you’ve got questions, ask them in the comments below, or tweet @dajbelshaw / @WeAreOpenCoop

Weeknote 15/2013

This week I’ve been:

  • Creating two new grids for Mozilla’s Web Literacy standard work with the community. The first one’s here and the second (updated) one is still just on Flickr at the moment.
  • Planning my PELeCON keynote presentation. You have no idea how long it takes to collate, choose and organise animated GIFs.
  • Hosting the weekly Web Literacy standard community call. You can catch up here.
  • Catching up with people like Laura Hilliger, Tim RichesLucy Neale and StJohn Smith.
  • Editing the Wikipedia article for Open Badges. Only a bit, though. Must revisit.
  • Moderating a Connected Learning TV webinar featuring Liz Lawley and her work around a ‘gaming layer’ for students and academics.
  • Travelling to Plymouth by train, plane and automobile (literally) for PELeCON.
  • Attending, keynoting and running a workshop at PELeCON. The animated GIFs from my keynote aren’t so animated on Slideshare, so you may want to try this Evernote notebook. Photos are here (when they’ve finished uploading)

Next week I’m in Sweden keynoting and running a workshop at the Swedish equivalent of BETT. Better get planning…

Weeknote 02/2013

Weeknotes are updates about what your business has been doing over the past seven days or so.

I used to write weeknotes (see here). I’m not entirely sure why I stopped, to be honest. All the cool kids do it: BERG London, the Helsinki Design Lab, the UK Government’s Digital Service and the BBC R&D – to name but a few.

As it’s supposedly a business-focused thing to do, weeknotes are usually counted from the birth of your business – regardless of when you start actually writing them. Given that I’m an individual and I’ve already written some in previous years, I’m going to do something slightly different. As you can see in the title of this post, I’ll give the week number (this is the second week of the year) and the year. Hopefully that’ll work.


Here’s what I’ve been up to this week:

  • Tidying up the Web Literacies white paper that I’ve been working on since joining Mozilla. It’s still not completely finished (nor is the framework) but it’s getting there. I’m quite pleased with the interest-based learning diagram that I inserted in there.
  • Turning down invitations to run workshops and speak at events. Much as I enjoy getting out there and meeting people and evangelising stuff around Mozilla’s mission, it both takes me away from my family and doing longer-term things. I don’t like saying ‘no’ (apart from BETT) so this is hard.
  • Booking travel to go to the few events that I am going to. I’m in Leicester next week spending time advising them on some digital literacy work that involves badges. More on that next week! Then, in a couple of weeks, I’m heading to California to meet up with my Mozilla colleagues and the winners of the DML competition to talk all things badges.
  • Recording videos. Given that I’m not going to be darting around the place running workshops, I felt it was important that those who do want to run Open Badges workshops had as many relevant resources as possible. To that end this week I recorded a couple of videos that hopefully will be of help.
  • Running an Open Badges workshop. Despite what I’ve said above, I couldn’t really turn down Stevie Flower’s invitation to Madlab in Manchester. We had a great time on Thursday designing badges. I issued participants this badge.
  • Writing an article on digital literacies for the inaugural issue of the ILTA’s journal. I keynoted their conference last year and they asked very nicely if I’d write a 2,000-word article. I’m basically plagiarising my own thesis, which I think (and people on Twitter seem to think) is OK.
  • Keeping an eye on developments around #ETMOOC, a new Massive Open Online Course about educational technology and media that starts next week.
  • Procrastinating over getting started with the Coursera Game Theory MOOC that I signed up for a while ago and began this week.
  • Messing about with my new phone – a Motorola Atrix 4G. It’s not ‘new’ as in just-come-out, but it met my criteria of being at least dual-core, having a user-replaceable battery, running Android, and accepting microSD cards. I don’t actually care that it doesn’t run the latest version of Android and love the fact that I can unlock my phone with a swipe of my fingerprint.

Next week I’m looking forward to talking to Audrey Watters about the Mozilla web literacies framework, recording some more Open Badges videos, finishing that ILTA article and heading to Leicester. The team formerly known as the Mozilla Learning Team will have re-assembled, Avengers-style by then, so I’ll have other things to think about as well. 🙂

How to find and download YouTube videos for use in the classroom

Our school network, like most in the UK, blocks the video-sharing site YouTube. Whilst this is understandable from an Internet safety point of view, there are many wonderful resources that educators could be missing out on.

There are many ways to download videos from YouTube, one of the easiest being to use a website such as Zamzar. The following screencast demonstrates how to do this. It is hosted at Edublogs.tv, so should remain unblocked by most school networks! 🙂

This text will be replaced

var so = new SWFObject(“http://www.edublogs.tv/flvplayer.swf”,”mpl”,”450″,”355″,”8″);so.addParam(“allowscriptaccess”,”always”);so.addParam(“allowfullscreen”,”true”);so.addVariable(“height”,”355″);so.addVariable(“width”,”450″);so.addVariable(“file”,”http://www.edublogs.tv/uploads/c0xqezbBMbZqGckHshmh.flv”);so.addVariable(“searchbar”,”false”);so.write(“player”);

Direct link to screencast

If, for some reason, Zamzar fails to work, the following websites do the job in a similar way:

Most of these converters support more than just YouTube – so try them with other video-sharing websites! 😀

***UPDATE*** A colleague suggested that a handout might make things easier than trying to follow an online video. I’ve put one together that you can download below:

How to find and download YouTube videos for use in the classroom (4.9MB)

 

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