Workshop format

Discussions on Workshop format and how it affects lesson development

February 27, 2024 - Sabry Razick

Possible workshop-formats [V 1.0]

During the CodeRefinery writing retreat in Tromsø, we tried to formulate the best workshop format considering following factors.

  1. Best way to reach the audience.
  2. Best use of available resources to CR and foreseen challenges due to end of funding period.
  3. Best value for host institutes, of CR staff and CR workshop participants

We evaluated four possible formats.

  1. In-person workshops
  2. Small scale online workshop
  3. Large scale online workshops
  4. Large scale workshop with local in-person meetups


In-person workshops

the host institution invites participants and covers the costs associated with the workshop, including travel expenses for speakers. CodeRefinery workshops can add value to the competence of employees, and the training can be included as part of grant proposals. In-person workshops require high-quality courses and may involve training the trainers. In-person workshops have a maximum attendance limit of around 40 participants and offer benefits such as better feedback, increased learner commitment, improved evaluation of productivity, and individualized help.

Small scale online workshop

Sustainability of the program relies on effective publicity and promotional activities. Small scale online workshops can be initiated by the host or organization and offer flexibility in terms of spreading content, providing continuous feedback, and offering individualized help.

Large scale online workshops

Large scale online workshops initiated by the CodeRefinery require more organizational work and face challenges in receiving continuous feedback, learner commitment, and individualized help.

Large scale workshop with local in-person meetups

Large scale workshops with local in-person meetups offer better individualized help and continuous feedback but require logistical coordination. The cost per learner can be estimated, and the physical space should accommodate breaks and exercise sessions for collaboration. Local in-person meetups have shown benefits, particularly on day 3, while the impact decreases in later days.

Details of the discussions

  1. In-person workshops

    • Invited by host
    • Costs reimbursed by host (Travel money etc.), maybe speaker paid by host
      • Host institution facilitate employee competence
      • Make it easy for people to add this to their grant proposals (give them template text)
    • More obligations for CR (high-quality course)
      • We should train the trainers
      • We have co-teaching which gives added value
    • More work delegation to host
    • Needs some limit of attendance eg. Max 40 per class
      • Usually not everyone show up -> Tweak the maximum so that it is manageable but no-shows bring some added comfort
    • Benefits of in-person
      • Better continues feedback
      • Better commitment by learners
      • Better evaluation of productivity
      • Better individual help
      • Can do few days longer sessions
    • Sustainability in a long run comes down to publicity
      • This model is very localised -> we need to have the networks up in various places
        • Current staff is localised in nordics
      • Teasers of the workshop in conferences
      • Webpages should be rewritten to accomodate and advertise the new model
      • Other webinars and talks to advertise more
  2. Small scale online workshop

    • Initiated by host or CR
      • If initiated by a host as tailored workshop then should be possible to reimburse for the speaker
    • Less costs
      • No travel funding required
    • Benefits of small online
      • Can be spread across multiple days with shorter courses
      • Good continues feedback
      • Good commitment by learners
        • if active participation
      • Good evaluation of productivity
      • Good individual help
        • more helpers with expertise in using windows os, linux, and mac os
        • in-person helpers are more difficult to arrange anyway
    • Max 40 participants
      • effective interactions with participents
  3. Large scale online workshops

    • Initiated by CR
    • More organizational work for CR
    • Low level of obligation (by learners)
    • Can accommodate 100s of participants
    • Inadequate continues feedback
    • Hard to judge learner commitment
    • Harder to evaluate productivity
    • Harder and not scalable to provide individual help
    • All questions are documented and answers reusable
    • More prone to technical issues
    • Technical problems of learners become more visible as events get larger
    • Can be spread across multiple days with shorter courses
    • It became harder to motivate persons to join as instructors
    • Communicating pre-requisites becomes harder, pre-requisites less likely followed
    • More questions get asked and more answers get seen
  4. Large scale workshop with local in-person meetups

    • Better Individual help
    • Better continuous feed back issues
      • Continous quizzes after each exercise to gauge in real-time how the students understand the material. (must be anonymous)
    • More than one host needs to handle logistics
    • Disparate learner competence groups
    • Better commitment by hosts
    • Better commitment by learners
    • Possible distraction due to technical issues
    • Better to confine to few longer days
    • What has the highest cost, physical courses or online courses? Can we estimate cost per learner in different scenaria?
    • The room requires breaks and exercise session so that they have enough room/time to work together.
    • Based on personal experience, day 3 benefited from local in-person meetups, the remaining days (especially week 2) barely did.


CodeRefinery is a project within the Nordic e-Infrastructure Collaboration (NeIC). NeIC is an organisational unit under NordForsk.


Privacy policy

Follow us