Organising a Workshop

Bluntly copied from github

Do you have a topic you’re passionate about? Do you have the skills and maybe even an idea how to help people learn about it? Can you imagine there will be a demand for your workshop? If so, let us help you organise it!


Before we can get started, there are a few things we need to ensure first. Those are:

  1. Make sure the workshop and its idea is in agreement with our values. In particular:
  • Even though your workshop may be targeting a certain group of people and could have some perquisites (like certain skills/hardware/software), it needs to be as open and inclusive as possible.
  • It needs to be hands-on.
  • You are responsible for creating a welcoming learning environment where learners are encouraged to ask questions and nothing is assumed to be “self-explanatory.”
  1. Show us there is a demand for your workshop (e.g. by posting it on our global discussion groups.)

  2. Have an idea of what you want your workshop/learning material to include – the clearer the idea, the easier it becomes to recruit coaches.

  3. Get in touch with OpenTechSchool members (which you might have already done via the mailinglist) and discuss your idea. Someone may already be working on something similar, so it makes sense to join forces.

In order to make the organization easier, once you’ve contacted the OpenTechSchool team, find someone who is passionate about helping you organise the workshop from within OpenTechSchool or who has at least done such a thing before. We call this person the co-host and you are referred to as the lead coach. As this co-host might not have access to everything, this document refers to OTS as the organisation team in general.

Starting to organize

Even if you already have a pretty clear idea of what you want to do and may even have some learning material ready, we strongly believe that more people working together yield better results. In any case, you want to have some other people helping you coach, so the next things OTS is going to do are:

  • Create a mailing list for this topic. Inquire with for that.
  • Promote that mailinglist via our social media channels, existing lists (global.discuss@), user groups and communities.
  • Make a public call for coaches on our blog – the more clearly your idea is described there, the better. team.communications@ can help you with that adventure.

But we also need to you to spread the word and convince people to join – after all, it is your cause!

Scheduling the first meeting

Once there are enough people in the mailing list (we usually wait until there are 15+), we try to set up a first meeting in order to get to know each other as well as to figure out how to actually get things done.

  • We create a Doodle poll with potential dates in the next 2-4 weeks.
  • The poll is sent to the coaches list, asking everyone to mark their availability.
  • The poll is also shared on social media channels to find more coaches.
  • Once there are enough coaches available for a date (8-10 at least), the meeting is set and a notice about it is sent to the mailinglist.

Note: We recommend meeting on a weekday evening after work hours. Monday to Thursday work best in our experience.

At the meeting

  • The meeting is moderated by the lead coach and the co-host. This means you make sure the conversation does not get off track or loses productivity. You can ask for suggestions for the agenda at the beginning of the meeting to give it structure. Asking participants to raise their hands and wait for you to call on them before talking will help with maintain order, too.
  • Start with a short introduction round to hear everyone’s name and interests/skills, as well as the motivation to be a coach. You will find the information about this last point useful when trying to hammer out the goal of the workshop.
  • Start discussing!

The usual targets for the first meeting are:

  • Getting to know the interests, motivation, goals, and availability of the coaches.
  • Creating a plan for the next steps – this could be anything from a second meeting to talk more, setting up plans for creating/assembling learning materials, to the date and time for the workshop to take place.