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Training workshop

Training workshop

A training workshop is a form of interactive training in which participants typically learn through activities in addition to presentationss. Typically, training workshops are 1-2 days in length, with relatively short bursts of instruction alternating with practical sessions or interactive activities. The ratio of trainers to trainees is typically high - 1:5 – 1:10.


workshop, boot camp, bootcamp, winter school, course, summer school

You will need


  • A structured plan, including briefing notes and materials for any activities
  • A room that comfortably seats your delegates and provides enough space for them to participate in interactive activities
  • Provision for breaks, including catering

Optional but good to have

  • Depending on the size and complexity of your workshop, you might want to have access to additional helpers/demonstrators to support participants during any practical sessions or breakout activities
  • Materials to support interactive discussions, such as flipcharts, sticky notes and coloured pens or their electronic equivalents
  • Print-outs (or electronic copies) of any teaching materials, with space for taking notes

What do I actually do as an instructor/facilitator?

Preparation / before class

  • Identify the training needs of your participants or potential participants
  • Plan for how you will address diversity in your audience - in terms of background knowledge, learning styles and differences in learning speed
  • If you will be training in an unfamiliar environment, try to find out as much as possible about it in advance: the format of the room; the format of keyboards and language on computers if you are using a computer-training facility...
  • Set learning objectives for your workshop and ensure that you match them as closely as possible to the needs of your participants. Sending them a brief questionnaire beforehand to ask them about their expecations for the training can be immensely helpful
  • If there's a selection procedure in place for your workshop, get involved in it if possible so that you can learn more about your trainees' prior knowledge and expectations
  • If you are working with other instructors to deliver the workshop, meet with them beforehand to share what each of you intends to deliver, improve continuity between sessions, and avoid unecessary repetition (some repetition may be useful but this is always better if planned!)
  • Create a training plan, including different activities, their timings, and any provision for diversity in your audience
  • Create, update or gather together any materials needed
  • Check that you're clear on your responsibilities versus those of others involved in planning and delivering the training. This is especially important if you are training in an unfamiliar environment, perhaps working with a host whom you have not met in person. Find out how much of the logistics and housekeeping you'll need to deal with during the training, and what support will be available if you have any technical issues (e.g. projectors not working)

Implementation / during class

  • Ensure that your participants know broadly what they'll be doing.
  • Encourage input from them and stimulate a collegial atmosphere; an icebreaking activity can help, especially if the participants don't know each other. If they do know each other, you might substitute this for a 'brain dump' activity: ask them to write down what they're worried about and then throw away the piece of paper so that they can focus on the workshop.
  • Seek feedback from your participants during the workshop, and address their feedback if possible.
  • In a multi-day workshop, include a summary of yesterday's activities at the beginning of each day and a wrap-up at the end of each day.
  • At the end of the workshop, provide any materials for reflective learning and let them know the extent to which you can be available if they need any further support, and/or whether they'll be contacted for feedback afterwards. It might be appropriate to propose that they form a community of practice to follow-up on their learning. If they do this spontaneously you can be sure that your training has been effective! 

Similar Methods

Peer learning

Peer learning

Peer learning is an educational practice in which trainees interact with each other to attain educational goals. It may be self organised (see, for example, the peerogogy handbook and also the related method - community of practice), or it may be incorporated into formal learning (see Eric Mazur's peer instruction website). There is evidence that peer learning can enhance conceptual understanding compared with classical lectures.

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Project-based learning

Trainees work on scientific problems with collaborating scientists. They learn by doing and are mentored by a senior scientist.

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Community of practice

Community of practice

A community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a profession (or craft). The group can evolve naturally because of the members' common interest in a particular domain or area, or it can be created specifically with the goal of gaining knowledge related to the field of common interest. Through sharing information and experiences with the group, members learn from each other and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally. CoPs can exist online, such as within discussion boards and newsgroups, or in real life, such as in a lunch group at work. This type of learning practice has existed for as long as people have been learning and sharing their experiences through storytelling.

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