Community Media/COL/Workshop Planning Guide

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Media & ICT Workshop Planning Guide

Commonwealth of Learning
Media and ICT Workshop Planning Guide, May 2009

Please PRINT the Relevant Sections


This Media & ICT Planning Guide was written to help you plan and run successful ICT / media workshops which deal with strategic issues such as capacity building; programming; community inclusion etc. It assumes that you have basic experience with ICT / media workshops. It guides you through a series of exercises which will help you to:

  • Define a clear workshop aim, which contributes to existing organisational strategy.
  • Set specific objectives, and design activities to achieve these objectives.
  • Measure the workshop’s impact, and its contribution to organisational strategy.

What this Planning Guide does NOT try to do

This Planning Guide is not a step-by-step guide that you must follow precisely. Rather, the Planning Guide is a workbook that will help you design the most appropriate format for you and your participants to achieve your workshop’s aim.

The Planning Guide does not provide information on basic workshop planning and administration. If you need some advice on this, refer to How to Run a Workshop by Moynihan et al (2004, Amsterdam) which provides some excellent online advice for planning NGO workshops. If you have web access, this manual should be available online:,cat_view/gid,42/

This Planning Guide was not written for technical or engineering workshops.

There are many workshop planning books available for purchase, which may also be available to you from a library. For example, this Planning Guide often refers to How to Run a Great Workshop by Nikki Highmore Sims (2006, Pearson Education).

Comments and feedback

We really welcome your feedback on this Planning Guide, and your own ideas and experiences of ICT / media workshops. Please feel free to contact:

Ian Pringle - Education Specialist, Media, Commonwealth of Learning,

Planning Guide written by Jerry Watkins, May 2009.


If you’re reading this Planning Guide, then you probably know already that you want to run a workshop. You may have some idea of who you’re going to invite; where you’re going to hold the workshop; and what you’re going to talk about. That’s a good start.

Now, take a moment to reflect upon what you’re trying to achieve. Remember that in many cultures, a ‘workshop’ is traditionally a place where something is made, created, repaired or even updated by people with special skills and tools, working individually or together.

Therefore the most successful professional or community workshops can be those at which participants work together to achieve a solid outcome; for example a program idea or a distribution plan.

A workshop is not a strategy meeting

You may have attended workshops whose primary aim was to bring together a group of people to create new networks; discuss ideas; or even ‘brainstorm’. At this kind of event, there might be a lot of group discussions, but no really solid outcome. This kind of event might be better described as a ‘meeting’ and so should be planned and run quite differently to a ‘workshop’.

A workshop is not a training seminar

Skills development and training sessions are also often described as ‘workshops’. For example, an expert presenter might be providing new information and knowledge to an audience of producers or technicians. This kind of event is usually more about a one-way exchange of information from the presenter to the audience; and therefore might be better described as a ‘seminar’ than a ‘workshop’. A seminar will usually require far more extensive written assessment of participants than a workshop.

So are you really planning a workshop? An event where a group of participants will work together to achieve a solid outcome? If so, then this Planning Guide should help you. If you’re actually planning a training seminar or a strategy meeting, then you should probably refer to one of the many available books on these subjects.

B1 - Task: workshop details

Create a short title for your workshop:

  • [type workshop title here.]

Add the name of the main facilitator:

  • [type facilitator name here.]

Add the main facilitator’s email address:

  • [type facilitator email here.]


The aim is what the whole workshop is trying to achieve.

Often, the aim of the workshop will contribute to a wider, longer-term program or strategy.

A successful workshop is one that achieves its aim.

To ensure success, the aim must be achieved within the duration of the workshop. So the facilitator must be very clear about the difference between the aim, objectives and strategies of a workshop. Sometimes the facilitator confuses aim, objectives and strategies; and if the aim of the workshop is unclear or undefined, then it can never succeed!

Let’s look at some examples.

C1 - Example: a clear workshop aim

To implement a community media programming and distribution plan in order to incorporate local content created by the target community within the regular community radio schedule”.


  • This is a very clear aim which identifies exactly what the participants are expected to achieve by the end of the workshop; and exactly why they’re trying to achieve it.
  • Using this aim, it will be straightforward for the facilitator to design objectives and appropriate activities.
  • The success and impact of the workshop will be measured by whether local content is incorporated within the regular schedule.

C2 - Example: mistaking a medium-term strategy for a workshop aim

To develop an action plan to document good practices; develop training curricula; and support learning programmes, organisational development and smart technology choices”.


  • This is not an aim, since it doesn’t tell participants why they’re attending.
  • This read more as a list of specific workshop objectives, around which participant activities will be designed.

C3 - Example: mistaking a mission statement for a workshop aim

To strengthen governance and management of community radio and its founding institutions, in order to run radio as a successful social enterprise that supports the mission of development.


  • This aim tells us what the participants are expected to do, and why.
  • But it is perhaps too ambitious; it reads like a mission statement rather than a clear statement of what will be achieved by the end of the workshop.
  • It may be difficult for the facilitator to design workshop activities to “strengthen governance” and “run radio as a successful social enterprise”.
  • How could you measure the short-term impact and success of such a workshop?

Making a strategic contribution

It’s not quite enough just to design a clear and achievable workshop aim. The facilitator should define how the workshop will contribute to the wider strategy of the organisation in a significant way.

For example, the aim of the workshop described in Example C1 (p.5) is:

To implement a community media programming and distribution plan in order to incorporate local content created by the target community within the regular schedule”.


Let’s assume that a health communication NGO is running the workshop and one of the NGO’s wider strategies is “to improve the health and quality of life of poor people by encouraging the sharing of better water sanitation techniques”.

Therefore this workshop will contribute to this wider strategy “by establishing and testing local content and programming formats which support top-down water sanitation messaging”.

By writing down a clear workshop aim and contribution to wider strategy, all stakeholders can see exactly what the workshop is trying to achieve. So now it’s time to confirm the aim of your workshop, and describe how it will contribute to the organisation’s strategy.

C4 - Task: define the workshop aim

Complete this statement: The aim of this workshop is:

[type the workshop aim here.]

C5 - Task: define wider organisational strategy

Complete this statement: The wider strategy to which this workshop will contribute is:

[type the wider strategy here.]

C6 - Task: define contribution to strategy

Complete this statement: By achieving its aim, this workshop will contribute directly to wider strategy...

[describe how the aim will contribute directly to wider strategy.]

(Comment.gif: It really helps your own workshop planning if you complete Exercises C4, C5 and C6 before you continue onto Section D.)



Objectives describe the major steps that participants must take in order to progress from the current situation at the beginning of the workshop to the desired situation at the end of the workshop. The desired situation is what the workshop is aiming towards. If all objectives are fulfilled, then the workshop’s aim has been achieved.

Your own experiences in ICT / media may suggest that difficult challenges can be overcome by teams of people who work together over a period of time to find a realistic solution. You may also know that it is unlikely that a roomful of strangers will find a solution to a difficult capacity building challenge in only a few days. Unfortunately, this is exactly what some standalone workshops expect from their participants, by setting too many unrealistic objectives.

Five (5) General Objectives

The facilitator’s job is to set specific objectives that will realise the workshop aim. These objectives will be different for every workshop and every aim. But to give you some idea, here are some general objectives which often appear in some form in many workshop plans: # Review of the current situation and comparable initiatives.

  1. Design of appropriate response.
  2. Creation of new process / tool / content.
  3. Testing or application of new process / tool / content.
  4. Measurement of success / impact; planning next steps.

Be disciplined

It’s possible to set too many objectives for the time available in one workshop. This might be due to your desire to provide as much information as possible while all your participants are together. Or perhaps your funding body tells you that it has certain objectives that must be achieved during the workshop. To avoid setting too many objectives:

  • Be disciplined.
  • Set the minimum number of objectives which fulfill the workshop aim.
  • Be guided by your workshop’s budget, duration, and what you can reasonably expect from your participants.

There is a good discussion about objectives in How to Run a Workshop by Moynihan et al. (2004, Amsterdam),cat_view/gid,42/

D1 – Example: setting objectives for an HIV/AIDS content creation workshop

A facilitator is planning a workshop on behalf of a Kenyan university radio station and – by following Exercises C4, C5 and C6 – has defined both the aim of the workshop and the wider strategy to which it will contribute:

  1. The aim of this workshop is to repurpose existing HIV/AIDS curriculum material for a university FM radio station.
  2. The wider strategy to which this workshop will contribute is to provide health information to university students.
  3. By achieving its aim, this workshop will contribute to wider strategy by creating local content for broadcast to students and young people via the university FM station; therefore promoting safer health practices.

(Comment.gif: Note that this is definitely a workshop, using our definition. The participants will be coming together to update something (in this case, HIV/AIDS content) that is intended to promote change in the target community of students and youth.)

Here is a set of specific objectives adapted from the Five (5) General Objectives:

Review of the current situation

  • Current HIV/AIDS education initiatives.
  • Recent and current station programming.
  • Health statistics about the target community.

Review of comparable communities / initiatives

  • What kind of health programming is available through other media?
  • What lessons can be learned from other initiatives?

Re-purposing existing HIV/AIDS material=

  • Who is the audience?
  • What programme ideas do the audience and material suggest?

Producing new content

  • Scripting, recording, editing.

New content evaluation

  • What do key stakeholders think about the new content, including: target audience (students and youth); station management; funding body.

Assessment and next steps

  • Who will be responsible for creating new content after the workshop?
  • How will this be assessed on an ongoing basis?
  • How can we broaden this approach beyond HIV/AIDS education?

D2 – Task: Setting Specific Objectives

  • Review your workshop aim and its contribution to organisational strategy.
  • Set three (3) specific objectives for the participants to fulfill, which will lead the group to successfully achieve the aim (you can add more later).
  • Feel free to adapt the Five (5) General Objectives.
  • Be disciplined!

Objective #1

[type objective 1.]

Objective #2

[type objective 2.]

Objective #3

[type objective 3.]

When you have finished Exercise D2, check your new objectives carefully and ask yourself exactly how the successful completion of these objectives by participants will achieve the workshop aim.

Don’t try to change behaviour

Some workshops try to change the behaviour of the participants or the community that they represent. Or perhaps the facilitator is trying to solve a problem or improve a relationship that has deteriorated over a long period of time. For example:

  • Making station managers respect community volunteers.
  • Encouraging marginalised villagers to use a telecentre.

Your single workshop may include activities that could help to improve these situations; but it’s very unlikely that you will be able to change behaviour in a few days. These kinds of problems are very difficult to solve, and a short workshop is probably not the correct tool to use.


After you have set your specific objectives, you can now select the right participants to achieve your workshop aim.

What to expect from participants

“Participation” is a culturally relative word. Some people think they have participated if they simply attend an event. Others think they’ve participated only if they’ve asked questions at every opportunity and won every debate in the workshop (perhaps you shouldn’t invite either of these types of participant to your workshop). It is reasonable to expect that each participant:

  • Has something valuable to offer to and learn from the workshop.
  • Will engage in all group activities in order to achieve the workshop aim.
  • Will respect the voice, skills and knowledge of other participants.

Make these expectations very clear when you invite participants; at the beginning of the workshop; and throughout its duration.


Community volunteers? Station managers? Social workers? Village elders? Funding body representatives? Young people? The list of who you could invite to participate in the workshop can be a very long one.

However, the participants you should invite will be the key stakeholders identified by your workshop aim. In other words, those people most involved with the outcomes of the workshop. All participants should have a clear and significant contribution to achieving the workshop’s aim and objectives. So invite those who have both the right skills to contribute; as well as skills in contributing.

How many?

The right number to achieve your aim and objectives. The final number of participants will usually depend on budget, venue and duration. A large group may well require multiple facilitators.

How long?

The duration of the workshop will be dictated by participant availability and your budget. In general, the more senior the participants, the shorter the workshop duration will be.

You can perhaps extend the duration of your workshop (or at least reduce your travel budget) by attaching it to an existing event such as a major conference or regional or national meeting which you expect some of your participants will attend. This means that some of your participants may already be traveling to the same place.

Task: selecting participants

Below, list the names of up to ten participants who should be invited to the workshop for the aim to be achieved. Add the name of their organisation. You can add more participants later as needed.

Participant #1

[type participant name, organisation here.]

Participant #2

[type participant name, organisation here.]

Participant #3

[type participant name, organisation here.]

Participant #4

[type participant name, organisation here.]

Participant #5

[type participant name, organisation here.]

Participant #6

[type participant name, organisation here.]

Participant #7

[type participant name, organisation here.]

Participant #8

[type participant name, organisation here.]

Participant #9

[type participant name, organisation here.]

Participant #10

[type participant name, organisation here.]

E2 – Task: describe expectations

[Describe briefly what you expect from participants here.]


In Section B, we described a ‘workshop’ as a place where something is made, created, repaired or even updated by people with special skills and tools, working together. So the facilitator must design a set of activities that will get the participants working together and using their skills and knowledge in order to realise the workshop’s objectives.

A good way to ‘break the ice’ and start your workshop is to begin activities immediately:

  • Don’t waste time with a formal ‘icebreaker’ exercise. The participants will get to know their new colleagues more effectively by working with them, rather than reciting their names.
  • Don’t waste time explaining the aim and objectives of the workshop in detail. If the participants don’t know why they’ve been invited, then they shouldn’t be there.
  • Don’t waste time explaining the workshop schedule in detail. Instead, display the schedule on a slide or a poster throughout the workshop.

The moment when a group of participants meets for the first time at the beginning of a workshop can be quite exciting. The participants are motivated and ready to participate in activities. Unfortunately, it’s quite common for a workshop to begin with a number of formal speeches and presentations by the host organisation, the funding agency, a local politician etc. This kind of formal introduction can take hours, during which the participants can quickly lose their motivation. If possible, try to keep the formal introduction as short as possible: 15 minutes should be enough. If you want to have formal presentations by politicians or funders, try holding these at the end of the workshop, to bring the event to a formal close.

Engagement – handing over workshop control

A quick way to engage participants is to hand over control of the workshop to them as soon as you can. Nominate individuals or teams according to their skills, knowledge and personality in order to:

  • Facilitate individual sessions and group activities.
  • Moderate feedback, or Question & Answer sessions.
  • Create content.
  • Organise and conduct measurement.

If possible, try to give every workshop participant responsibility for at least one task or activity. By handing over control in this way, you can achieve many important things:

  • The workshop becomes less ‘top-down’ and more ‘bottom-up’ as each participant takes on a responsibility.
  • Each participant becomes publicly accountable for this responsibility.

You reduce your own workload – instead of facilitating every session, you can step back and take a more strategic responsibility for the progress of the workshop (which is one of your most important jobs).

Example: designing and beginning activities

Every activity should be designed to fulfill one of the workshop’s specific objectives. Each activity should have a clear purpose; a set duration'; and a different and appropriate session chair. For example, see the following activities for the first morning of a community radio workshop:

Session 1

The main facilitator welcomes the group; outlines workshop expectations; and describes the venue and its facilities in five minutes.

Session 2

The main facilitator hands over to a local participant to chair a briefing on the local situation. The main facilitator has asked four participants to prepare some content before arriving at the workshop. The session chair finishes with a Question & Answer (Q&A) session.

Session 3

Similar to Session 2. The main facilitator has asked some external participants to prepare content before arriving at the workshop.

Session 4

Another local participant serves as session chair. The workshop breaks into pre-arranged groups for discussion.

By designing the workshop activities in this way, the main facilitator has made sure that a number of local and external participants have made an important contribution before lunchtime. Therefore the group is engaged and remains motivated from the beginning.

# Session name
Contributes to objective #

Session chair:

main facilitator

Set expectations.

Describe venue facilities.

0900 to




Briefing session

local situation

Session chair:

Fatima (local)

Brief external participants on the local current situation. # Participants A and B (local) play a short radio newspiece that they have prepared for the workshop. It includes interviews; vox pops and back story.
  1. Participants C and D (local) use role play to illustrate local attitudes and behaviour.
  2. Fatima (session chair) moderates Q&A.
Objective #1: Review of current situation and comparable initiatives. 0905 to




Briefing session:

comparable initiatives

Session chair:

Tony (external)

Brief local participants on best practice by other initiatives.
  1. Outline experiences each participant has which are relevant to the current situation & workshop aim.
Participant E presents a series of newspaper headline scans and TV news recordings to demonstrate a comparable situation.
  1. Participant F plays a recording of a radio chat show which illustrates external attitudes and behaviour.
  2. Tony (session chair) moderates Q&A.
Objective #1: Review of current situation and comparable initiatives. 0935 to




Small group work:

skills review

Session chair:

Evelyn (local)

Review participant skills and knowledge relevant to the workshop aim.

The workshop splits into small groups decided by the main facilitator.
  1. The groups relate the briefing sessions to their own skills and experience.
  2. Evelyn (session chair) moderates Q&A.
This activity replaces a formal icebreaker 1005 to




Morning tea 1035 to




Task: Designing & Beginning Activities

  • Begin your own planning by using the format shown below (i.e., in the blank chart).
  • You can plan the first full day of workshop activities.
  • Adjust the chart as required by adding or reducing the number of sessions.
  • Feel free to extend the chart so that you can plan more workshop days.

Session name
Contributes to objective #
Morning tea
Afternoon tea


Media / ICT professionals often have both access to and skills with both audiovisual and Internet technologies. These can be used as strategic tools not just for the delivery of the workshop itself, but also for the building and maintenance of the human networks that workshops allow. All the tools discussed here are free.

Venue selection and facilities

There can be a lot of value gained from conducting a residential workshop in a remote area, if this benefits the primary aim. However, media / ICT initiatives often revolve around some form of technology. Therefore venues in urban locations can offer better media / ICT infrastructure and make travel arrangements easier and cheaper. In particular, good Internet connection at the venue is becoming more and more useful (and none of the tools discussed in this section will work unless you have Internet connection). It’s assumed that you already know about audiovisual support for the workshop itself, such as laptops, data projectors, speakers, and use of a presentation application like Microsoft Powerpoint.

Sharing information

  • WikiEducator by COL and the International Centre for Open Education in NZ is a tool for publishing and distributing information. It’s especially useful for uploading post-workshop information such as the final schedule; group activities; major outcomes; participant bios etc. This information is really helpful to other facilitators around the world.
  • Google Docs permits a group to work on a single document at the same time. You can create a private group of contributors who can all work on the same online document or spreadsheet. It’s a very easy and useful tool. There is also a utility to export Google Docs in a variety of formats including Open Office and PDF.

Networking tools

Use professional and social networks to research potential participants; communicate with them before and after the workshop; and ‘keep the workshop alive’ by maintaining your new professional contacts.

  • LinkedIn is a professional tool which allows you to create a personal web profile. You can then introduce your other LinkedIn contacts to each other – it’s a bit like a formal introductory service where you only meet people who someone you know has recommended.
  • Facebook is a personal web page which can only be seen by people that you invite. You can upload photos; chat online; or send messages to multiple recipients. Facebook is designed for your social life but many people use it for work.
  • Ning is an excellent collaboration tool. An administrator creates a new Ning group with its own web address. This group can be public or private. Members can upload video, audio or image content; conduct discussion groups; and collaborate on documents.


Measuring success

In Section C, we said that a successful workshop is one that achieves its aim. We also said that the general aim of any workshop should be to make, create, repair or update something. So you can say that your workshop was successful if you make what you were aiming to make.

In Example C1, we talked about a workshop with an aim to implement a community media programming and distribution plan in order to incorporate local content created by the target community within the regular schedule. So this workshop would be successful if the programming and distribution plan was implemented, and did include local content created by the target community. This aim is easy to observe and to measure.

In Example C3 was to strengthen governance and management of community radio and its founding institutions, in order to run radio as a successful social enterprise that supports the mission of development. How could you know if this workshop was successful? You would have to measure the strength of governance and management of community radio before and after the workshop – which would be very difficult.

Measuring impact

Let’s look at Example D1 again. This workshop will be a success if it achieves its aim to create HIV/AIDS radio content. But to measure the impact of the workshop, you would have to measure HIV/AIDS rates before and after the new content was broadcast. You would also have to isolate any other factors which may be affecting HIV/AIDS rates during the same period. This kind of measurement is beyond the budget of most organisations.

It is difficult to measure the impact of a single HIV/AIDS content workshop in the short-term; but we can measure the impact of the host organisation’s strategy on HIV/AIDS rates over the long-term. This is one of the reasons for Exercise C6, in which we define how our workshop’s aim contributes to a wider organisational strategy.

So don’t try to measure the impact of an individual workshop, unless you’re skilled at this kind of evaluation. Instead, measure the impact of your organisation’s wider strategy, and explain how your workshop (or series of workshops) has contributed to this strategy.

Written participant feedback

Designing a participant survey or feedback form can be useful – if there is a good reason. For example, it may be that some kind of written assessment may be a requirement of your organisation or funding body. If so, perhaps you could include a workshop activity in which a small team designs and implements an evaluation form for the whole workshop.

But don’t waste time with a written feedback form if only one or two people will ever read it. Instead, ask participants to share their thoughts online so that anybody can read them – including future workshop facilitators and participants! COL’s WikiEducator can be used as a ‘bulletin board’ for feedback; so can network tools like Facebook or Ning (see Section G). You can include photographs of the workshop, or audio recordings of interviews with participants and/or the local community. But remember to ask permission before you make any recording.


It is essential to follow up a workshop by communicating with the participants, and if possible encouraging the participants to continue communicating with each other.

In many cases, it can be very easy to schedule a follow-up meeting of the workshop participants without additional travel requirements. Use a conference call service, Skype (, or a webcam to ask participants whether an agreed-upon action plan has been implemented; or if the workshop activities continue to be of use to them in their work. You may be able to include an activity during the original workshop in which a small group designs and administers the follow-up activity.


The purpose of this Planning Guide is NOT to plan your workshop for you, since every workshop is different.

Instead, using this Planning Guide will help you make sure that the aim and objectives of your workshop are clear and achievable. If you achieve this, then you have laid a firm foundation for a successful workshop.

When the Workshop Proposal sheet and your Activities sheet (Task F1) are ready, show them to experienced colleagues; funding body representatives; or other people whose opinion you value. Get their advice and feedback in order to make sure that:

  • Your workshop aim is clear and achievable.
  • The aim contributes to the organisation’s wider strategy.
  • You have three objectives that will achieve the aim.
  • You have suggested some appropriate participants and explained your expectations.

You should also review other ICT / media workshops online to give you ideas and build your professional network. Start with the Commonwealth of Learning’s online Community Media space, which lists a number of previous workshop schedules as well as other resources for planning and facilitation:

We wish you every success with your workshop! Once again, please don’t hesitate to contact the Commonwealth of Learning with any questions. Your feedback will help to improve workshop planning for everyone in the sector.

J. Workshop Proposal

Workshop title

...type workshop title here...

Chief facilitator

type facilitator name here...
Contact: type facilitator email here...

Aim and contribution to organisational strategy

The organisational strategy to which this workshop will contribute is to:
...type the wider strategy here.....

The aim of this workshop is to:

...type the workshop aim here...

By achieving this aim, the workshop will contribute directly to organisational strategy by:

...describe how the aim will contribute directly to wider strategy....


The major steps that participants will take in order to progress from the current situation at the beginning of the workshop to the desired situation at the end of the workshop are:

  1. ...type objective 1...
  2. ...type objective 2...
  3. ...type objective 3....


Suitable participants who should be invited in order for this workshop to achieve its aim include:

  1. ...type participant name, organisation here...
  2. ...type participant name, organisation here...
  3. ...type participant name, organisation here...
  4. ...type participant name, organisation here...
  5. ...type participant name, organisation here...
  6. ...type participant name, organisation here...
  7. ...type participant name, organisation here...
  8. ...type participant name, organisation here...
  9. ...type participant name, organisation here...
  10. ...type participant name, organisation here...


The following is expected from workshop participants:

...describe briefly what you expect from participants here...


# Session name Purpose Activities Contributes to objective # Duration
Morning Tea ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Lunch ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Afternoon Tea ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Dinner ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
______________ ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________