Organizing a workshop

Creative Commons License: CC-BY Questions:
  • What should we think about when we organize a workshop?

  • Have we done everything necessary for organising a great workshop?

Time estimation: 3 hours
Supporting Materials:
Published: Nov 15, 2018
Last modification: Nov 9, 2023
License: Tutorial Content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The GTN Framework is licensed under MIT
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These recommendations are highly inspired from the one by The Carpentries


In this tutorial, we will cover:

  1. Groundwork
  2. Before the workshop
  3. During the workshop
  4. After the workshop
  5. Conclusion


  1. Decide on a general topic for the workshop
  2. Identify possible dates for the workshop
  3. Identify possible instructors, and contact them for their availability

Before the workshop

  1. Discuss with the instructors to decide on the curriculum
  2. Set dates for the workshop
  3. Find a good venue

    A good venue is crucial to establishing a positive learning environment. Some things to consider include:

    • Tables arranged so participants can watch the instructor, use their laptops, and talk with their peers

      Fold up desks are usually not a good choice.

      If a computer pool or computer room is available, these are usually a good choice since they come equipped with desktops and large monitors. If you allow students to bring their own laptops, they will sometimes bring very tiny ones and then struggle to read tutorials at the same time as following along.

    • Tables arranged so helpers and instructors can easily walk around the room and talk with individual participants
    • A room with a projector and screen that everyone can see, with HDMI, VGA, and Mac adapters to allow anyone to plug in their laptop
    • Hi speed internet access (WiFi if not in a computer room) that can support everyone using it simultaneously
    • High table or podium that instructor can stand behind while teaching

      A flat podium is important; it’s difficult to use a laptop on a slanted podium

    • Black/white boards can be useful for drawing diagrams. These work best in smaller rooms, in larger rooms people sometimes cannot see from the back, and slides can be better here
  4. Ensure your location is accessible for those with different needs

    It’s important to make sure the workshop space is accessible to all individuals. The registration form should ask whether instructors, helpers, or learners need any advance arrangements to ensure they can participate in the event. This may include considering whether or not:

    • Building and room are accessible to those who can not use stairs (ramps, elevators, etc.)
    • Restrooms are accessible
    • There is a microphone for instructors
    • The screen is large enough and bright enough to be easily read
    • The building and room can accommodate service animals
    • Lactation space is provided

    Here is an additional (US-centric) guide book covering all aspects of event accessibility required under the ADA in the US. Inspiration can be taken for other non-US countries, as the list is quite extensive.

  5. Create a registration form
    1. Decide if there will be a workshop fee

    Even a small fee can greatly reduce the no-show rate.

    1. Registration form: Google Forms or Eventbrite if fee

    Example of regular questions

    1. If there are social events planned, ask if students will participate in them
  6. Create a small webpage with all the information about the workshop

    Ideally, such a page should include:

    1. General presentation
    2. Registration information
    3. Schedule with topics, presenters and helpers, start / end, links to material (latter) for each day
    4. Location of the venue with extra information
    5. Map
    6. Lunch options around
    7. Accomodation options around
    8. Organizers

    It can be easily done on the Galaxy Community Hub or European Galaxy website, depending on the audience

  7. Advertise your workshop on the Galaxy Hub and usegalaxy.*

    PR / Issue template for training events?

  8. Prepare for visiting instructors
    • Make travel arrangements for them or communicate the reimbursement process
    • Make accommodation arrangements for them or maybe point out some common choices using your local knowledge
    • If you will give instructors a thank-you gift, find something that is inclusive regardless of their background (so wine / chocolate / food are bad choices.)
  9. Collect emergency contact information for instructors in case of last minute changes
  10. Arrange required materials and equipment
    • Power outlets for all participants

      This may include setting up extension cords or power strips

    • Sticky notes in two contrasting colors
    • Name tags to help people get to know each other
    • Extra pens and paper in case people want to take notes by hand
    • Sign in sheets
    • Pens for black/white board
  11. Arrange for beverages, snacks, and meals
    • We all learn better with fuel!
    • Catering can be expensive. If you choose to have participants find their own lunch, then you should add nearby lunch location ideas to the workshop webpage
    • If your workshop is a multi-day workshop, you should include dinner options on the workshop webpage
  12. Test the projector with a different computers
  13. Contact participants to remind them of workshop webpage where you have written location/directions, start/end times, and contact information
  14. Contact instructors and help to remind them of workshop webpage
  15. Make a reservation for a social dinner
  16. Prepare the participation certificates
  17. Test the training materials that will be taught from the perspective of a student in the room you have booked

    In one case the training material was taught in English, but the computers were in German. Some participants could not find the “Copy link location” that was mentioned in the tutorial. If you have sections that instruct users to do things like this, make sure to check how they will see it!

  18. Name badges for the instructors, usually with a different colour border so attendees can identify people who can help them with any issues they encounter.
  19. Name badges for attendees are important for participants as well. At busy venues it can help attendees to find each other and remember each others’ names.
  20. Ensure that your catering service will label the food for contents (e.g. for vegetarian/vegan/allergens like gluten, etc.) This is extremely important for attendees to be able to enjoy themselves and find food that will not hurt them.
  21. Identify places you can promote your event Galaxy Hub is the primary place to do this. You should do this 3-6 months in advance of your event (if you can)

During the workshop

Before the participants arrive

  1. Ensure that the room is set up with all necessary materials and equipment
  2. Make coffee/tea

After it begins

  1. Introduce the workshop
    1. Explain the emergency plan
    2. Explain the schedule
    3. Organize a icebreaker (bingo sheet, for example) and ask for the data needs

      Everything is about networking!

  2. Remind them of the resources on the webpage
    1. The schedule
    2. Point out the lunch options
  3. Periodically check in on the class to be sure things are running smoothly

In the mornings

  1. Remind the participants what they have learned on the previous day. Show a quick slideshow covering the major themes
  2. Organise an ice breaker to help them make new friends they didn’t meet last time

In the evenings

  1. Before they leave in the evening, recap what was learned that day, just the highlights
  2. Sometime later in the evening, contact the participants to remind them:
    • it’s happening
    • what the schedule is
    • what’s going on the next day
  3. Prepare the recap slides for the next morning, if they do not exist already
  4. Update the workshop webpage with links to each training material that was presented that day

Before they leave

  1. Hand out participation certificates

After the workshop

  1. Collect workshop attendance
  2. Reimburse the instructors, thank them for their participation
  3. Collect feedback form and discuss the results with the instructors
    • Ask what went right? What went wrong?
    • This is a good opportunity to identify things that are missing from this list
  4. Contact the participants with the links to the materials