International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications

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Travelling workshop methodology

Wherever possible, INASP ICT workshops follow a travelling methodology that has proved to be successful in University libraries and research institutions for a number of previous ICT related training programmes.

These pages give details of: process; materials and facilitators; monitoring and support; relative benefits of the travelling methodology; and a brief overview of previous ICT related training programmes.

Travelling Workshop Process

Workshop 1, country A

The first workshop is run in country A, the workshop is facilitated by a visiting "expert facilitator" (in this case this may be a member of INASP or someone identified locally). Assisting the lead facilitator will be an assistant facilitator from country A - this assistant should be familiar with the subject matter and (ideally) an experienced trainer or workshop facilitator. Attending the workshop will be approximately 20 local participants plus a visitor from country B - who will eventually act as a facilitator in country C.

Workshop 2, country B

The second workshop in the programme will be run in country B (1-3 months after the first workshop). The workshop will be facilitated by workshop 1's assistant facilitator, assisted by the visiting participant from workshop 1. Approximately 20 local participants will attend the workshop. Additionally, a visitor from country C will attend the workshop to familiarise themselves with the content and process.

Workshop 3, country C

The third workshop in the programme will be run in country C (1-3 months after the second workshop). The workshop will be facilitated by workshop 2's assistant facilitator, assisted by the visiting participant from workshop 2. Approximately 20 local participants will attend the workshop. Additionally, a visitor from country D will attend the workshop to familiarise themselves with the content and process.

Each additional workshop is conducted on the same basis, cascading from one country or location to the next. So, each person taking part in facilitating a workshop will firstly travel to attend a workshop as a participant, then act as assistant facilitator in their own country, before travelling to the next country to act as facilitator.

In-country cascade

The same methodology can be applied within each country, allowing additional national or local training events to be developed with relative ease. The materials, facilitators and expertise will now all be in place to help facilitate cascade training within the country. INASP are available to help encourage (with advice, guidance and occasionally, small amounts of funding) this in-country cascade. It is felt that the local capacity building effects that this approach has, combined with the significant cost benefit (when compared to other forms of workshop) are significant. So much so, that we try to facilitate this kind of workshop when ever the methodology and content are suitable to local demand and conditions.

Materials and facilitators

Obviously, two very important aspects that will help ensure the success of these kind of workshops are the materials used during the workshops and, perhaps more importantly, the facilitators who will lead each workshop. Choosing the right person is very important and INASP seek the advice and recommendations of each partner organisation participating in the training, as well as drawing on our network of suitable contacts.


The choice of facilitator is very important and for each workshop programme INASP provide a skills outline that the facilitator should be expected to have. The partner organisation will then select someone appropriate from their staff to act in this role. This will usually be someone with a combination of appropriate experience, training responsibilities and subject knowledge. One of the important outcomes of the workshops is the development of an experienced and skilled group of trainers who can then undertake follow-on training. The development of generic training skills is an important capacity building effect of the individual workshop series.


A full set of workshop facilitator's notes and accompanying materials are supplied to the lead and assistant facilitator in advance of each workshop. These include copies of the following:

  • Facilitator guidelines, tips and hints - a set of documentation that provides guidelines for facilitators on running the workshop and using the accompanying materials. These facilitator materials are updated after each workshop and allow for skills and experience to be passed from workshop to workshop.
  • Administration materials - documentation to help guide the administration, preparation and running of the workshop. Includes; requirements, venue, timetable, materials and equipment checklist, evaluation forms, etc.
  • Presentation slides and speakers notes - all presentations used in the workshop will be supplemented by detailed speakers notes to help guide their use and delivery. These are accompanied by copies of all the other materials used in the workshop (e.g. handouts, work books, etc.) tailored for use by the facilitator.
  • Handouts and work books - all materials for use by participants of the course. Includes; copies of slides, notes, participant work books, feedback forms, reference materials, etc.

The materials are iteratively edited and updated as the workshop programme develops. Facilitators and participants are encouraged to make recommendations for changes and improvements. Significant problems or edits will be made as soon as they are proposed and a more general update of materials is made every 3-6 months (depending on the frequency and number of workshops at any given point).

Monitoring and support

All workshops are supported via regular communications with the local administrator and facilitators, as well as by a detailed reporting and feedback process. In addition INASP staff will monitor every fourth or fifth workshop in a series or when ever the workshops moves from one region to another. As well as helping to support facilitators and participants, this also ensures that the quality of the workshops is maintained as they cascade outwards.

In addition to the on-going remote monitoring of workshops and periodic monitoring in person, the use of high-quality original materials, careful selection of partner facilitators, and maintenance of good lines of communication with partners all counteract the potential difficulties of the 'Chinese whisper' effect that can be associated with information communicated in this way.

The positive experience that INASP and our partners have had during these workshops means that we would actively encouraging others to adopt this travelling methodology.

Benefits of travelling methodology

So what are the benefits of adopting this kind of travelling workshop methodology? Well, there are some important benefits when compared to more traditional ICT training workshops that are often undertaken within the "development" context. A brief summary of some of the characteristics of a more traditional approach might be useful:

Traditional ICT workshops

Many ICT training workshops that are delivered within the "development" context are often based on the one of more of the following approaches:

  • A small number if individuals are selected for participation in training
  • Selected people will travel to the training venue (often internationally)
  • Training will be delivered by an external "expert"
  • The training will be intensive for a short amount of time and then the participants will return home
  • Participants will be drawn from many institutions and (often) countries

So what are the problems with this approach?

  1. A small number of individuals being trained makes it difficult for these people to be effective when they return to their institutions. They are often isolated with no peer support network, as few, if any, of their peers have undertaken the same training. The result is that few of the skills acquired during the training are ever fully used and they quickly become forgotten.
  2. Having people travel to training is problematical as it takes people out of their daily context. Skills and processes learned under these new circumstances are often difficult to apply when under (the very often) testing conditions at home. Learning how to use electronic resources under ideal network conditions in the UK is one thing, using them in the day to day business of a library in Africa of the NIS is another - different skills, approaches and understanding are required.
  3. Training from external experts, often from the North, is problematical in that they often lack the true understanding of local conditions and challenges. Additionally, they can be less effective for a variety of reasons; cultural, linguistic, experience, communicative styles, etc.
  4. Intensive training, out of people's day to day context, is often ineffective, as when people return to their daily working situation, they do not have the resources, time or peer support network that they need to effectively apply their newly learnt skills.
  5. Having many people travel in an international context means that a significant amount of resources are spent on airfares, subsistence and hotels. Great if you are one of the multi-national companies benefiting, but wouldn't that money be more cost effective on training more people locally?

In contrast to these problems, the cascading methodology:

  • Provides a core group of trained individuals, and so peer support, within each institution
  • Takes place in the working environment of the participants, allowing issues that arise for them on a day-to-day basis to be included within the training
  • Builds capacity by developing training skills appropriate to the local environment
  • Releases money previously spent on travel, etc, for use in training


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Last updated: 24 August 2004