Workshop Activities to Increase Learning and Retention: Part 1

We had amazing engagement from everyone involved in our webinar today, Designing and Delivering Technology Workshops. Some participants asked if we'd share more about our favorite activities to increase learning and rentention. We are going to do a couple of blog posts around this topic, since we have a lot of ideas! Share yours in the comments and we will incorporate them into our next blog post.  

  • Pair Share or Learning Partners
    This activity involves participants sharing information with a partner. They can brainstorm on a question about the topic, share the most important thing they learned with each other, practice a skill, or tell each other how they are going to apply what they learned. They can also do activities together, such as creating a blog, a PowerPoint, or a letter. You can group people by skill level (pair a more advanced leaner with a beginner) or you can have them count off to pair up, which also helps to break up groups that are sitting with people they already know (helpful if networking is a goal).
  • Action Plans
    Participants make an action plan for themselves on what steps they will take to use the information learned in the workshop. These action plans can either be kept to themselves, such as writing down two or three ways they will use the information learned or they can share these plans with another participant or a small group.
  • Snowball Fight
    The participants write down a question they have about the content (or a statement about what they’ve learned as a review activity), and then crumple the paper into a ball. The trainer gives them a signal and they stand and throw their “snowball.” All snowballs should be kept in movement for a few minutes. When one falls, participants pick it and throw it again. Stop the action and ask everyone to pick up a “snowball.” Give them 3 minutes to read the question and find the answer using anyone or anything in the room as a resource. Then have participants read the question and answer aloud or share with a small group. This gets people up and moving, and lets people ask questions anonymously (plus it is always good for a laugh!).
  • World Café
    This is an interactive group activity that is great for creating conversation on an important issue, centered on a single discussion question. All instructions are included in Café To Go, a free six-page guide available online ( Some libraries have used this one exercise as an entire program to host community conversations or to generate staff dialogue.
  • Polling
    This is really fun during an online training and can be used in person as well. Use polling to quickly assess participants’ skills, interest, or experience. You can also use a poll to start a discussion. For example, ask participants to raise their hand if they’ve used Excel before, and then follow-up by asking them to share how they’ve used it.
  • Quotations
    Create a simple PowerPoint presentation with quotations or cartoons that relate to your training. Ask each person to pick a favorite and tell another participant or the group why it is their favorite. This can even be running on kiosk mode before the workshop begins.
  • Chocolate Hugs and Kisses
    Give a Hershey’s Kiss to a learner that asks a question or makes a good point. Give a Hershey’s Hug to someone who is having trouble with an exercise, gets discouraged, or crashes the computer.

I hope you'll enjoy using these activities! There are more listed in my book, The Accidental Technology Trainer as well.