Planning and Running A Workshop
Planning a workshop with Bare Conductive products? Whether you are teaching the basics of circuits, creating interactive projects, these tips will help you plan and run a session from start to finish. We will explain the things you need to consider, what you should do to ensure it running smoothly and even give you an example of a workshop agenda we’ve used ourselves. Let’s start, shall we?
Consider your Participants
Factors such as the age and ability of workshop attendees will determine the complexity of your activity and to what degree you will need to prepare materials – knowing your audience helps you plan better workshops and become a better facilitator.
Younger or less dexterous participants often benefit from having pre-made, simple templates to paint over, whereas university students may just require some inspiration or a brief to generate ideas and design a project.
It can be useful to prepare differentiated templates, which range from easy to difficult to suit a group with unknown or mixed abilities.
Set Clear Objectives
Start off by introducing the aims and objectives of the workshop, provide context for the activity and explore what participants already know. Be clear about what everyone should achieve from the task, what they will learn and what a successful end project should look like.
If attendees are of unknown or mixed ability, then objectives can also be differentiated, with a basic, intermediate and advanced outcome, so that everyone achieves at least one of the workshop goals.
Often, it is also useful to tell people what not to do, or how to avoid common mistakes. A simple tip at the start can save a lot of troubleshooting down the line.
Don’t be Afraid to Demonstrate
It always helps to have ‘one you made earlier’ on display, or even an image of what the final product should look like for reference.
Demonstrating a key step or certain techniques, for example, how to use the Electric Paint tube, will help participants achieve good results. It will show them the correct application angle and ideal paint thickness (which will mean that all projects dry at a similar rate too).
Creating a small practice template, consisting of a few lines (straight and curved) to trace over with the paint will help participants gain confidence and hone their skills before tackling the real thing.
While it is good to circulate throughout the group, problem-solving, assisting and acting as a facilitator, it can also be beneficial to carry out part of the exercise alongside a less confident individual or group. This will allow them to visualise the task and copy your approach.
A digital presentation is a good, visual way to support a workshop. There you can outline the objectives and instructions for reference.
For more complex projects, try using step-by-step photographs to illustrate techniques and equipment set up – a picture can paint a thousand words and prevent a lot of confusion.
‘Orchestrate’ the Activity
The key to delivering a smooth workshop is careful preparation and people coordination. Thinking through and planning out the logistics of the activity means you will minimise chaos and risks.
Ahead of time, consider allocating participants into small groups (three is probably the maximum for optimal involvement and learning), arranging seating and laying out the required equipment on each group’s work surface. This will reduce traffic as well as save time and confusion that comes with choosing groups and collecting equipment from various locations around the room.
If you are using Bare Conductive Electric Paint in your workshop, be sure to allow for drying time in the workshop agenda, usually around 15-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the paint. Plan a related, short exercise for this time to maintain focus and momentum.
Wrap up the session by linking the objectives with the outcomes, so that progress and achievements are clear. Provide an opportunity to celebrate each other’s work, create space for discussion about the experience and give attendees the option to take photographs of their completed projects and share them on social media. If it’s a workshop you will run again in the future, consider creating a custom hashtag or account for participants to use. It’s a valuable way to get the word out and neat way to collate images for your records.
Think about Timing
A good way to estimate the time a task will take is to do it yourself beforehand and then double the time for the session. This will help account for conversation, reading instructions and asking questions.
If timing looks tight, do as much preparation as possible ahead of the session so that participants stand a good chance of completing the task and can focus on the fun bits; cut out stencils, remove equipment from packaging, untangle cables etc.
If required, remember to include any tidying, cleaning up or packing away time in the workshop agenda. Keep reading below for an example of a workshop agenda we’ve used in the past.
Prep the Space
Make sure that bags, coats and other personal belongings are stored away from the activity area as these can get in the way, become dirty and become a tripping hazard.
If using Electric Paint, provide access to hand cleaning facilities with soap, towels and a bin. If there is no sink in the vicinity then wet wipes, or washing up bowls of clean water will work, placed on opposite sides of the room to prevent crowding or bottlenecks). Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint is non-toxic, water soluble and very easy to clean up with a wipe or soap and water, but because it is made from carbon, can be a little messy.
If your project needs scissors, glue or specific stationery, be sure to plan for this and put them in a prominent place, or better still, distribute them with the equipment bundles on work surfaces. If the workshop has a sound/audio component or outcome, be sure to include headphones. A room full of mixed sounds can be hard to manage!
If possible, check and test the equipment in advance. Ideally, try to have one or more spare components to tackle any technical difficulties that might prevent someone from achieving their outcomes.
Example Workshop Agenda:
The below agenda is set against the goal of conducting a quick workshop. If your planned activity is more complex, the timings will likely change, but the general run would remain similar. You can also download an example of a longer workshop agenda here – Workshop_4HR Agenda.
(15 mins) Introduction:
- Discuss the purpose, goals and learning objectives of the session
- Explain the plan for the session
- Find out what participants already know
(10 mins) Outline Activity:
- Explain the task
- Briefly describe the key steps
- Outline the success criteria – what should the finished project look like/do?
- Demonstrate any aspects that could cause confusion
(25 mins) Activity:
- Quick practice session
- Participants carry out the activity
- Facilitator circulates and supports
- Presentation with instructions or visuals displayed for reference.
- Downtime (i.e. drying time). Minimised by short, relevant activities during this time.
- Packing away and cleaning up time, if applicable
(10 mins) Review and Share:
- Review learning objectives.
- Engage with participants and check understanding – what did everyone achieve or learn in the session?
- Exploration of finished projects and discussion around different approaches
- Photos to document or for social media
If you are looking to buy multiple products for a workshop, check out the Touch Board Workshop Pack. It’s made for group activities and you get a better deal when you buy the components as a bundle!
Have a particular outcome in mind for your workshop? Click below to see which one of our kits (all Electric Paint based) will best suit your desired outcome:
- Sound: Touch Board Starter Kit
- Light: Electric Paint Lamp Kit
- Circuits: Electric Paint Circuit Kit
- Prototyping: Touch Board Pro Kit
Still stuck for ideas? Here is an example of a music-based workshop we held at the Apple store.
Lastly, if you have a workshop you’ve facilitated and want to share, we’d love to see it! Share your images and a brief explanation of it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.