If you're visiting my online space for the first time, before you read ahead - Are workshops really necessary to learn? Read this for some valuable insights.
Now that you understand the concept of "Inspired Learning", the next obvious hurdle is to choose the right workshop or learning path amongst the numerous available choices.
The kind of questions that often come to mind while making a decision go like:
- Is it possible to learn in just a session or two?
- What if I have doubts after the session?
- Will I be equipped to pursue the skills learnt all by myself?
- Is the trainer experienced or skilled enough?
- Will the content covered match my expectations?
- Should I look out for free workshops or what is the right price for paid ones?
These are just few of the common ones though I'm sure you can think of many more while going through these.
I've tried my best to address many of these and more in this blog. Let's start with one of the most common dilemmas in current times:
ONLINE OR IN-PERSON?
Although online workshops have been prevalent for some time now, they really caught up some momentum during the pandemic for obvious reasons.
Besides a handful of skills, most of the learnings can be done online today provided the required setup is in place and the process is made simple and hassle-free. However, these are the considerations:
- Are you comfortable using the video calling tools?
The Generation Z can safely ignore this but for some who are still getting used to online communications, it's best to ask well in advance about the tools that would be used, eg. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc. to conduct the session. This would help you with time to get used to the online tool used for the session.
- Do you have the required infrastructure at home?
Internet these days is common at most homes but it's not always stable, is it? So make sure you have a secondary connection handy, like a portable mobile hotspot maybe. Most workshops require you to show your work or yourself, so a laptop or a tablet device with a decent camera quality is highly recommended. A quiet space that can be reserved for you at home is always underestimated but so important to have a smooth experience.
The key differentiators:
Needs basic digital skills
No digital skills needed
Needs stable internet at both ends
No such dependency
Zero commute time
Additional time and money spent on commute
Safe from social contact
Social gatherings always add to the risk
Higher risk of fraud, being online
Having a physical address, risk of fraud is generally lower
Sessions Recordings usually provided for future reference
Sessions are not recorded usually
If specialised materials are required, arranging them could get challenging
All equipment required is usually arranged by the organiser
You have access to expert and preferred trainers across the globe and connect with audience with varied ideas
You would generally prefer to select learning closeby, despite your preference towards a specific trainer
Personally, Both as a learner and as a tutor, I've found the online format quite amazing and I could connect with people across the globe to share my experience and draw inspirations!
MAKING A SELECTION
Why is this so hard? It's just the sudden explosion of online options offering possibly anything you wish to learn. It's definitely great to have multiple choices, but it's so important to choose the most appropriate one for you.
A few important pointers to consider while you make that selection:
- Ask Questions
The best trainers or training institutes try to mention all the required info clearly and transparently. Be it on their website, in a social media post or in a newspaper ad. If you have doubts or questions regarding anything from the format of the course, the content covered, post-session assistance or anything that comes to mind, Just Ask!
Many of us shy away from asking questions, at times find it naive or simply intimidating. But those initial interactions can help you get a better idea of what you are signing up for.
If the trainer or institute is reluctant to answer questions that you feel are important, move on to other options.
2. Verify References
We all wish to add those required skills quickly and also look for the most value for our money. Put in that additional effort to check references by going through different sources which lead to the trainer or institute. Start from checking with people you know. Even if you find a distant connection who may have learnt from the specific trainer, direct references such as these are most often accurate.
Go ahead and make a google search and browse through their website (if available) or social media handles which show their work. Search for client feedback or reviews for a similar course that you intend to take. If you'd like to go that extra mile, cross-check a review or two by reaching out to the people mentioned in the reviews.
A common mistake is to rely solely on number of social media followers or posts made by the trainer or institute. The fact is that there are ways and means to add fake followers and many marketing apps can make those posts look beautiful.
3. Price Point
With the choice of options, you'll find similar workshops or courses offered with different pricing and fee structures. The above two pointers will definitely help you eliminate and narrow down to fewer selections. Take all aspects into consideration while making a choice - The content covered, the experience of the trainer or institute, the materials provided, duration of the session, etc.
Extremely low priced options often host a large number of participants or skip out on important content in order to upsell higher priced offerings.
However, assuming that higher priced options are always better isn't true either. Personally, I've come across learners who found the experience disheartening after attending popular, highly priced courses.
To sum up, trainers and institutes set their fee structures as per the effort they put in, the infrastructure they provide and the experience they possess. It is you who needs to weigh out all the aspects that suit your need, before making the decision.
- Check maximum number of participants. The globally accepted standard for student to teacher ratio is 20:1. Workshops are meant to be interactive and anything significantly higher than this ratio is bound to impact the quality of the course.
- Notice the responsiveness and transparency with which the trainer or institution is able to answer to your questions or doubts.
- Ask for a demo, trial or free-for-all short introduction video that can help you gauge the experience you can expect
Finally, don't limit your learnings to just workshops or courses. Get inspired by different sources, ignite your original thought, put in those hours towards practice and apply all that you learn in mastering those skills which you dreamt of!