How to run a workshop (OUP ELT Global)

Source: GIPHY

One of the aspects of my current role that I enjoy the most is that I get to run regular 15-minute workshops for my colleagues, chiefly on topics related to e-learning. While I am growing more confident the more I run these mini-PDs, I still have a lot of learning to do; so I was very happy to come across Martyn Clarke’s post (on OUP ELT Global) on what to consider when running a workshop. This may be summarised as follows, though I encourage you to read his post in full:

  1. Identify the purpose of your workshop.
  2. Have a clear structure to guide the learning process (he suggests Input – Task – Output).
  3. Think about logistical matters such as timing, schedule conflicts, teaching space, materials, etc.
  4. Prepare a follow-up task (“homework”) to help teachers make use of what they have learned.
  5. Have your colleagues evaluate your workshop, and consider what you will do with their feedback.

While I do tick most of these boxes in the way I deliver workshops, Clarke’s post has helped me to think about it a bit more systematically. I realise that most of my workshops hitherto would be classified as “awareness-raising”–introducing my colleagues to a new app or a new way to use Google Slides or Blackboard for blended learning, for instance–and I could probably explore other models (such as skills-development). As for process, I often include a hands-on task if I’m demo-ing an app using a set of iPads; otherwise I adopt the tried-and-true method of gathering participants’ ideas on a new concept (e.g. how they might apply what I’m teaching in their own lessons) before adding my own.

I also like to give participants a “takeaway”, such as a one or two-page set of instructions on how to use a particular app or tool. But I certainly need to be more pro-active in encouraging workshop participants to incorporate what they’ve learned into their own teaching. I imagine there’s a lot of great PD in language centres across the world that disappears down the memory hole as busy teachers, initially very enthusiastic about a new idea or approach they’ve encountered, struggle to find an immediate place for it in their programmes, and soon forget it.