Training community workers and leaders
Creating and delivering a legal information workshop
So, you want to prepare and conduct legal information training for community workers and leaders. Even if you routinely conduct legal information training as part of your work, it’s always a good idea to check in on your training strategy and refresh it if needed.
Here are some tips on how to plan a legal information workshop.
Identify and learn more about your participants and their training needs
The adult learning principles discussed in Step 1 of this module, “Using adult education principles”, highlight the importance of knowing your audience. It can be tempting to design a more “generic” training for delivery to a number of groups. However, if the training you develop doesn’t fit your audience’s specific goals and need for information, this might be wasted time for both you and them.
If possible, take a quick survey of the people who will be taking your workshop to find out what they know, and what they need to learn. This can be done by email or by using a survey tool such as SurveyMonkey. You can start by asking:
- Are your learners already familiar with the legal topic or topics in question? Do they just need to learn what has changed, or do you need to start from scratch?
- What types of legal issues affect the communities that your participants work with?
You may also want an open-ended question or two to find out if there are any specific scenarios or problems they come across in their work. This can help you provide case studies if you wish to use them. For example, if your learners are helping people deal with social housing issues, they probably don’t need to learn about the housing law rules that relate only to private market housing.
Develop the learning objectives for your workshop
Every workshop or training program you develop should have a short summary of objectives – what will the participants know or be able to do as a result of completing the training?
When you develop your learning objectives, consider the audience for the training. It’s important to make sure your content reflects what the people taking the workshop need to know.
The learning objectives do not have to be lengthy. For example, if your training program focuses on specific content such as new law or policies, and on educating community workers on where they can refer people for legal help, your learning objectives might say something like this:
As a result of attending this workshop, participants will be able to:
- describe the new law in language that clients can understand easily
- identify whether a particular client has a legal problem that is affected by the new legislation
- refer clients to the appropriate sources for legal and social help with the issues
Decide on teaching methods and format
You will first have to decide whether your training will be delivered in-person or online. You can find more information about in person training in Step 3 of this module, “Dealing with logistics for your training”. You can find more information about online training in Step 4 of this module, “Planning effective online training”.
Here are some basic tips for picking between in person and online training.
In-person training: This method tends to be more effective in terms of engaging participants. However, in person training is not always possible to arrange, especially if the participants are not in the same city or part of the province. If you’ve opted for in-person training, you will need to decide on venue and room set-up. Here are some tips:
- if in a city, try to pick a venue that will be easiest for most participants to access, whether by public transit or by car
- try to avoid lecture hall seating as this makes it harder for learners to participate
- if you must use a lecture hall, consider adapting it for group work by:
- adding tables and chairs
- using flip charts
- providing space for small group work or role plays
Online training: Although in-person trainings are usually optimal, live webinars are far cheaper and easier to arrange than in-person trainings, especially if the participants come from a wide geographical area.
Online training can be most effective when:
- the topic is focused, and information can be delivered in an hour or less
- the topic is urgent and needs to be touched on before the next opportunity for in-person training
- the topic is one that might be of relevance to a wider audience or to similar participants in different parts of the province who could access the information later through a web archive
- people continually have a need for it as a way of responding to clients
Develop supporting materials
When you design and deliver a training program, think carefully about the materials and resources you need. Here are some examples:
- PowerPoint slides: these can be helpful as a prompt for presenters and the audience. See Step 4 of this module, “Planning effective online training”, for tips on how to prepare effective PowerPoint slides
- one alternative to PowerPoint is a Prezi presentation: you can use the free Prezi webtool to prepare a animated zooming slide show that is more visually engaging than PowerPoint.
- Handouts with instructions for activities: effective handouts will provide instructions for the activity in question. Some examples:
- specific questions to be answered: provide a handout with the question/ s and some space below each question to record answers – including time limits
- case study or “solving a problem”: provide a handout with a case study or description of the problem, any specific questions you want answered, and instructions for dealing with the problem – including time limits
- role-play: provide a handout that explains the context for the role play, the roles that people are expected to assume, and instructions for what you want people to do in their roles – including time limits
Decide how to evaluate your workshop
You can use project evaluations to find out whether the learning objectives your workshop set out to deliver were achieved. Evaluations can be invaluable tools for you and your organization to find out what worked well, what didn’t work so well, and how to plan for future similar training work.
Some goals for the evaluation of your project could be:
- to learn whether the format and presentation style was effective for the people you trained
- to learn whether the people you trained were able to put the information into use
You can find more detailed information about evaluations in Step 5 of this module, “Evaluating your training”.