Saturday, 31 July 2010


This last week all the work I did over the past 8 months on my workshop came to a head. Finally, after one false attempt and a lot of anticipation, I delivered the pilot of my workshop.

Matthew and Kevin (from the university) have both been very supportive and really believed in the workshop as being something of value which could benefit the attendees as well as the university. To that end they arranged 7 attendees for the pilot which was quite deliberate. They didn’t want to overwhelm me (as they knew I had never taught before), but at the same time, they wanted to have enough people present to get feedback on the workshop to see how it will be received. Being the pilot they didn’t charge the full price and they were also hesitant to fill the room with too many people who would be prepared to pay more.

I arrived at the technology campus of the university and met up with Kevin and Matthew. They took me to the classroom and left me to set up the room how I saw fit. Once my laptop was set up and I was plugged into the overhead projector, I got myself mentally prepared. Although excited, I was also feeling a bit nervous which I thought was probably healthy. I was confident in the material which helped minimize my nerves.

The attendees arrived and ranged in age from 25 to 55 with an almost even mix of men and women. They were from varied background; two worked for departments within the university and were tasked with managing their respective websites (but did not have a technical background), two more were graphic artists who were involved in web development but without much knowledge of usability, one was in marketing and worked for a large company which needed a website overhaul (which he was tasked with managing) and one person was a photographer who wanted to better promote himself online.

The funny thing is that none of them met the target market I had developed the course for; small, home-based business owners. It didn’t seem to matter, the material went over very well and within no time at all, I felt at ease and started to enjoy myself.

There were a few times when something magical happened. I was talking about something in particular and all the eyes in the room would fixed on me. I said something poignant and I could actually see their eyes sparkle. And, as if in unison, they all jotted down what I said. The first time this happened I really relaxed because that was when I knew I had them; they were taking it in and obviously finding some value in what I was saying. I loved it!

After all workshops hosted at/by the university the attendees are asked to fill out an anonymous assessment. They grade aspect of the course between 1 and 5 and then they give the course an overall grade and make any comments. I received an overall 5/5 by every single attendee. Here are some of the comments:

“The course will help enormously since I have purchased new domain names for rebranding my web presence & this course content will be pivotal to that delivery.”

“A very well structured and in depth workshop. Brilliant interactivity with the exercises and working as a group. Excellent content and hand outs/resources used.”

“Interesting, interactive, good examples! I learnt things that I will apply in website redesign. I would like to have had my website used as an example.”

“Slightly too long but really informative. I did lose concentration on the testing aspect. One of the best workshops I have attended.”

“Quite an intense day - a lot of information to take in, but excellently presented.”

Afterward I met with Kevin and we discussed the feedback. He has never seen such positive remarks on the first instance of a workshop and told me I couldn’t have done any better. Interestingly, he also told me he knew this would be the case because I was privileged to be in a unique position.

When the university contracts outsiders to present workshops, they usually only pay for the delivery and the presenter is responsible for developing the presentation/resources on their own time. Because of this, many don’t put in the necessary attention to the course resources. Because I had applied for a government fund with the university, I was being well paid to build the workshop which basically guaranteed success simply due to the time I had to work on it. And after Kevin read the material I created in the spring, he knew the workshop would be a winner.

From my perspective, it couldn’t have gone better and I am eagerly looking forward to the fall when they plan to run my extended workshop (which I should be working on now instead of writing this

blog entry!).

When we arrived back from our Med trip, the weather in Leicester was quite nice. We decided this was the perfect time to clean up our courtyard and make it usable. Nina had been amassing a collection of potted flowers which she attended to, and I swept the courtyard and got rid of the debris left by the previous tenants. We bought a table and chairs and have been enjoying our weekend brunch outside for a change.

Now, Nina is back in Germany for a short visit to celebrate her grandmother’s 89th birthday and will come back in time for us to spend 24 hours together before I depart for Vancouver. This is the longest amount of time I have spent away from Vancouver and I am looking forward to my trip home.