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10 Ways to Get the Most Out of an Online Workshop

Guest Blog by Umes Shrestha, Learning Experience Designer

First published on Medium: https://medium.com/@vidushis/hows-our-student-doing-ptms-in-times-of-a-pandemic-8caec28806bb

Have you registered yet? Six months into this year of a pandemic, and this question hasn’t left our inbox, Whatsapp or our minds. Webinars & workshops everywhere with an information overload and zero time to synthesise or apply; definitely difficult for educators.

You must have taken part in endless virtual events during this new normal. Here’s a 10-points checklist that can help you avoid the overload, and make use of the learnings in your classrooms and beyond:

BEFORE THE WORKSHOP

#1: Check if it’s really a workshop. This is important. In a well-designed workshop, you will get involved in learning activities and will be able to produce & showcase your creation. It’s literally “work” and “shop”. Otherwise, it’s not a workshop! It could be a webinar, a presentation, a talk-show, a panel discussion. So, check the description and the structure.

#2: Check your needs and goals. If your needs/goals don’t align with the workshop outcome, it’s a waste. For instance, the workshop could be about academic writing while you simply wanted to improve your literary writing. Go through the details again.

#3: Get organized. If you do register for an online workshop, you should be getting an event calendar on your email. Or, create one yourself with notifications 30 mins before the sessions. Also, create a separate folder (preferably on a google drive) where you’ll save all the information, event links, workshop materials, handouts, pdfs, and so on.

#4: Do your own prep work and find articles or videos related to the workshop’s theme and title. Join the sessions with some sort of prior knowledge and preparation; otherwise, the content could be obscure and abstract.

DURING

#5: Check your devices. And, the technical stuff you will need. You will have to switch in and out between browsers and online platforms. So, try joining in from a laptop/desktop rather than from a mobile phone only. A good webcam and a headphone also help elevate the experience. (Also, don’t forget about Murphy’s Law: what can go wrong will go wrong.)

#6: Bring in positivity and an open mindset. These will shape your perception and the actual experience of the workshop. Workshops are usually meant to be challenging and effortful. They also question your prior beliefs and behaviours. Don’t feel personal. And don’t bring in resentment. It’s as contagious as the Coronavirus. If you feel you were forced to be there (by your school leader, boss, or colleagues), don’t spoil it for the others, and for the facilitators.

#7: Do not multitask. Participate. Interact. Get involved. Share. Take notes. Ask. Suggest. Work. Get feedback. Give feedback. Most importantly, focus on learning. If there are post-session activities or offline readings, find some time for them as well. It’s easy to be invisible in online workshops. And, it’s easy to not participate too. Fight that feeling. Otherwise, it’s not going to be very productive for you.

AFTER THE WORKSHOP

#8: Reflect on the experience. Find a quiet moment to recall, or better, write down new things you learnt, self-evaluation on your participation, and actions you will implement in your own work. Sounds like a cliche, but if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. So, implement those ideas right away.

#9: Give feedback to the facilitators and organizers. Not just right after the workshop, but also after you implement the learnings in your work. Share a story of how the workshop helped (or didn’t help) you become better at what you do. Share your insights on the positive and negative aspects of the workshop.

#10: Stay in touch with the participants/facilitators. Usually, the organizers/facilitators create private groups on social media, online discussion forums, or mailing lists for the participants so that they can keep communicating and sharing. Stay active, post/comment regularly and contribute to building a community.

Use these points and you stand to gain most out of any online workshops.

Did I miss anything else? How can you, as a participant, make your workshop experience valuable? Write to us and share what works best for you.

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