Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ten Steps to Workshop Design & Development

This strategic planning model, from educational consultant Dr. Elsa Kessler, has for many years helped me tailor training and team workshops to the needs of specific audiences:

Define the general purpose and/or need.

Analyze participants and their needs as they perceive them, get more data if necessary (age, experience, representation, previous experience with similar workshops or responding to similar problems, personality/ learning style, expectations).

Review your resources and barriers (time constraints, logistics of the planned location, your own/others' capabilities, the minimum amount of rehearsal necessary, your level of authority to make decisions.)

Create a theme. This can then manifest in a logo, handouts, and/or brochures; but also serves as a focus of meaning and energy, in the same way a good book title captures the book's intent.

Define the general objectives and sequence, including general ideas to mix and match topics, methods, and media for interest and variety.

Develop segments. The emphasis here is on first draft -- especially if you're part of a team of designers -- because you want to sketch out enough to make sure the segments work together and support the overall theme, without wasting effort on details that may need to be changed. Necessary changes will become apparent during the dry run:
Specific objectives (for both content and process) and sequence for the segments.
First draft of detailed content, including tie-ins to other segments and to overall theme.
First draft of detailed design. (Lecture? Question and answer session? Group discussion? Fish-bowl demo? Subgroups with large group debrief? Experiential? Case Study?)  
First draft of media. (Slides? Handouts? PowerPoint? Flip chart?)

Evaluation criteria. Most people make the mistake of waiting until after this stage to develop/conduct an evaluation. If the specific objectives are clear, you can also decide at this point how you will know if you met your objectives. This becomes self-fulfilling when you build in a process by which the desired results are observable. For example, if you want participants to be able to name four key leadership qualities, you could either design an activity where they give a summary out loud or solicit their written responses; then you can reinforce or fine-tune their understanding as appropriate.
Dry Run or "walk through." This allows testing of content and process, how long the segments actually take, how the material looks/sounds to others, how well the logistics work, whether or not the objectives appear to be met. A dry run is particularly vital if a team is contributing to the design, because all participants can check out how their parts fit with the rest and adjust where necessary.

Completion of final materials and quality check.

Dress rehearsal (not always necessary, depending upon the critical nature of the event and/or the quality of the dry run).

Conduct session/evaluate/adjust for future events.