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I’m working to organise technical workshops at my workplace - nothing big, just an hour long during lunch.

I plan on doing system design exercises, code challenges and solving brain teasers. The aim is to improve the skill of everyone involved, including myself, in the areas covered? And to improve morale by making things fun and interesting.

The problem is, I’m not sure of what to do apart from printing out a few different brain teaser puzzles and examples of services to design (eg url shortener).

I have read about ways of delivering a workshop, and have an idea (give attendees a system to design, ask how it went, and methods to improve, then ask them to design another system) but would like to sound out people here for advice.

What is the best way of setting up and running such workshops?

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I’m working to organize technical workshops at my workplace - nothing big, just an hour long during lunch.

Maybe don't schedule it for lunch time. If this is important to the company then the company ought to schedule it accordingly and appropriately on company time, not on the personal time of the employees. Employees are at work 8, 9, 10 or more hours a day. Don't monopolize their lunch break with work related work shops. Let them take their break.

Certainly there are people who will give up their lunch hour, but you won't get full participation and some people will resent your attempts to intrude on their lunch break with work related training.

An alternative option would be to provide lunch for those who do attend. Get a head count of the people who want to attend and order lunch for everyone.

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  • Thanks for your answer! Unfortunately that is very unlikely to float. On the other hand, the workshops are really meant to be interesting and fun events, to excite one's creative skills and enjoy the process, while learning. Since this is an effort by myself, I don't have the organisational backing for lunch or a better time. – Ahmed Tawfik Jun 21 '19 at 11:31
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We have mini tech talks. A person gives a short presentation on a subject followed by a Q&A. Talks are at most 1/2 hr.

In addition we have reading circles. A book is choose and every other week, we have a discussion about the chapter or two that has been read. Sometimes with a demo.

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  • Thanks for your answer! I am looking for something more hands-on. If I had the time, a talk follows up with a practical exercise would be great, but currently I have a max of 1 hour – Ahmed Tawfik Jun 20 '19 at 10:34
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I have seen the concept of lunch and learn.

Basically everyone brings their lunch, a demo of a simple app with a new technology or approach is done, and then the discussion begins. In some companies, I have seen the organization provide lunch as an additional incentive for people to go.

Then at the end of the time, which is typically an hour, a new topic is picked for the next one. Usually these are done once a month or so, but you can alter the schedule to fit your needs.

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  • Bringing lunch in sounds like a good idea – Ahmed Tawfik Jun 21 '19 at 11:33
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I have led a bunch of this kind of training, and I can offer some suggestions.

  1. Make the topics relevant to your company's work. Just an example: If you are offering something on database management, use your own company's data if possible.

  2. If you have an hour, schedule no more than half an hour of material. Leave plenty of time for questions and conversation: much of the learning comes from those interactions.

  3. Organize this so many people have the chance to lead sessions. Have long-time experts and also junior people lead sessions. Just one voice gets boring.

  4. If you will have people work in groups, try to mix it up. Get your groups to be different from the usual workday groups. Guide this process. For example, if you will have four groups, tell people to count off 1,2,3,4 and join that group.

  5. If you can bring in food, do so. But make sure the food is available five minutes before your starting time. If you have to take a break to get food in the middle, your hour vanishes without a trace.

  6. If you're doing something involving laptop computers, prepare any required text ahead of time so people don't have to spend the time frantically typing.

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  • I like the bit about mixing up the groups - I'll see how often I'll need to do this. – Ahmed Tawfik Jun 21 '19 at 11:34

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