Guide to Conducting Online Workshops & Other Trainings

Content Development
You may have already created your content and are simply looking to adapt it for an online experience. You may also be at the initial development stage and want to know what considerations to make. Here are some steps you may want to follow:

  • Clearly outline your objectives. This should be the first point of any type of workshop or training. Why are you holding this workshop? What do you hope the participants (and you or your team) will achieve out of it? Here’s a template that can help you write strong learning objectives.

  • Develop your course outline. If you are creating your content from scratch, then you want to begin by developing an outline. An outline helps you structure the content you want to teach by helping you identify what your topics are. You can use this template to help you do your outline.

  • Explore other avenues for online content. It is unlikely that you’re the first one to do an online workshop and in these times, it helps to seek out what others have done. You can use other sources to get tips on how to run the session and see what content for online training should look like. For this, you can use sites with online learning e.g. Lynda, Skillshare.

  • Establish a reasonable timeline for content creation. If you’re adapting existing content, then you’ll probably need less time than if you were developing content from scratch. Ensure you give yourself a realistic timeline for when you can reasonably have a complete training ready to be administered.

  • Level of participation. Determine what level of participation you’re looking for and how you will create opportunities for this. If you’re hosting a brainstorming session, you’ll likely want more participation than, say, if you were just doing a training. Either way, participation is always a good thing, especially in a remote learning environment. Here are some things you may want to try:

    • Give everyone a chance to speak at the beginning perhaps introducing themselves and what they hope to get out of the session in one word (if the group is a reasonable size)

    • Make use of the technology. Participants speaking doesn’t have to be synonymous with participation. Use the chat function to have people interact (To see if everyone is still following when you feel like you’ve spoken too long, tell them to drop a “eyes” emoji or something similar!).

    • To increase participation, may you want to build out quizzes or ice-breaking games onto a platform like Kahoot.

    • If a section of your content has information you think your audience already has (best practices etc), you can consider showing images of for e.g. wrong vs. right and having the group describe what they see and explain their answer

    • To see more information on hosting a webinar on Zoom, you can see that here. Zoom has a lot of functionality around this, even a Q&A function.

    • For those of you that need to run a brainstorm or ‘whiteboard’ sessions where participants need to contribute to idea generation sessions, consider using PADLET which is a virtual whiteboard tool.  On Padlet,  participants can ask questions, the facilitator can respond to these and it also acts as a repository for information. You can use this to facilitate your Q&A sections. Remember to deliberately set time in the course schedule to go back and review these questions.

    • If you ask people to share something they wrote down, maybe have them write it in the chat function if they feel they will want to share. That way, you as the facilitator are aware of exactly who wants to share without asking into a void of silence.

    • Consider having some pre-work or guiding questions for the participants before the workshop itself. This way, you know for sure they have something to share with everyone else and this often sparks an organic flow of idea-sharing.

    • To help get your participants into the right frame of mind for your content, consider sending some reflection questions beforehand (maybe a day before). You can think of two simple questions that help them reflect on:

      • The self – e.g. what kind of leader do you think you are?

      • The self in relation to others e.g. What qualities do the managers you have enjoyed working with possess?

    • Don’t be afraid to use a variety of audio-visual materials relevant to your workshop e.g. Youtube Videos , movie clips etc.

      • For e.g. if you want to demonstrate a role play for best practices during a feedback session, you can record a mock meeting on Zoom and share this with the group.

    • As much as possible, especially in instances where you know the audience has some knowledge of the material, use them to gain insights. As a facilitator, your role is to show them how all the information they have fits together more times than you are giving them brand new information.

Before the session starts

  • Familiarize yourself with the course delivery structure. Make sure you know your content well so in the event that you have a technical hitch, you can still proceed.

  • Get familiar with all your resources. Practice using the functionality of your calling platform (Skype, Zoom, Slack) especially if you’re planning to share your screen, documents, and others.

  • Send your participants a welcome email to the workshop or training and provide clear instructions such as the call link and course content material they should have.

  • Consider posting the call link in the calendar invite and emailing it to your participants beforehand. If you’re using a common instant messaging tool like Slack, consider posting the links there as well.

At the beginning of the session

  • Check that learners can log-in or join the call and provide support and troubleshoot as needed. Keep this in mind for time concerns and consider asking participants to join 10 minutes before to allow for this activity. Set up your screen sharing, if any, at this point as well.

  • Facilitate introductions and community-building activities at the beginning of the course e.g. have everyone introduce themselves in a chatroom style forum

  • Set clear expectations for the session, go over your objectives and set some norms and rituals around the learning time e.g. ask everyone to drop their questions in the group chat, ask them to mute their mics.

During the session

  • Remember to check for understanding every so often and if using the chat function, for e.g. respond to the questions posed

  • Relate to learner experiences and ask thought-provoking questions to encourage even more participation.

  • Be mindful of whether you are an instructor or facilitator recognizing that each have their own unique styles. As an instructor, you’re providing all the information much like teaching. As a facilitator, your audience, for the most part, has some of the knowledge and you’re encouraging knowledge sharing and for them to provide solutions/recommendations.

After the session

  • Wrap the session. A great way to end a session is to use this time to have people reflect or even share their commitments for changed or learned behavior. Give the participants 5 minutes to write down e.g. the most surprising thing they learned during the session, 1 thing they will begin doing differently after this session.

  • Distribute the learner-feedback and allow 10 minutes at the end of your session for them to fill it out. You’ll have a better chance of getting feedback while people are still on than if you ask them to do it later.

  • Review learner-feedback and make recommendations for improvement.

  • Thank learners for their participation.

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