2.5 How to organize a workshop
Most activities proposed in the scenarios are based on the Kolb’s experiential learning cycle. In this approach the starting point is the concrete experience, followed by a reflective observation on the new experience, which leads to the creation of abstract conceptualization, resulting from what the person has learnt. The last stage is active experimentation, during which the learner applies the newly acquired knowledge. The classes offered take place in the form of workshops with the use of active methods. The workshop scenarios are based on non-formal learning principles however all scenarios can be also used by educators in formal educational settings. Scenarios can be used as a whole or in selected parts. If you are an experienced youth worker, we encourage you to combine, shorten and adapt the scenarios to your needs. If you are new to working with young people, we recommend that you conduct a workshop based on the whole scenario.
When organizing a workshop, you have to choose what methods to use in involving your participants, basically what method you choose for helping participants to learn. There are different methods, and some of them are used also in the scenarios we prepared in this training toolkit, such as mini-lecture, individual/group work, open discussion, reflection, games, role-playing, etc. These methods should be chosen and designed based on the learning objectives of your workshop but also based on your experience of working with groups. Be aware that some methods are more risky than others, and might cause you problems, like losing control of the group, losing the workshop focus, taking more time than planned or generating conflicts among participants. From our experience in working with groups, mostly with young people and young adults, If we are to put the methods on a scale, from the less risky ones to the most risky ones, this would be our list: lectures, interactive presentations, directed discussions, open discussions, group work, games, role playing and experiments. If you are a beginner in conducting workshops, we recommend you to use less role playing or experiments, until you have more confidence in your experience and your knowledge of the particular group you are working with.
If you work with a group of young people who do not yet know each other, it will be important to add exercises to get to know each other at the beginning of the activity. If you see that the group’s energy is decreasing, add an energizer. If the energy is high and it makes it difficult to conduct a workshop, do a concentration exercise. Adapt the scenarios to your needs and the needs of the group.
Conducting workshops based on the proposed scenarios requires good preparation. First of all, you need to get acquainted with the chosen methodology or approach, e.g. Design Thinking, in order to be able to guide the participants through the whole process. Secondly, the workshops have been prepared in English. If you are not working with an international group, it will be important to search for appropriate materials in the participants’ mother tongue or to make sure that the language does not hinder full participation in the activities and does not adversely affect the learning process. Thirdly, you should take the time to get acquainted with the proposed digital tools, get familiar with how they work, test them on yourself and prepare them for work before the workshop. Sometimes it will require setting up an account in the suggested portal, sometimes downloading a programme or application.
Each workshop is designed to enhance a specific competence among young people and at the same time to use various digital tools for this purpose. When introducing a new digital tool to young people there are different ways to do so. You can either let them experiment with a tool and learn how to use it in an intuitive way or you can give them instructions and guide them through all functionalities. This choice should be made taking into consideration the learning objectives, the time you spend discovering a tool, and your target group.
The scenarios have been developed for young people aged 16-24, but the ideas and methods they contain can also be used in working with other age groups.