Participatory workshops are decidedly and deliberately low tech. Technology is wonderful, and there may be a place for it in your participatory activities (see the chapter on 'The talkies, technicolor and other technical innovations') but it can also act as a barrier, excluding those who may lack IT skills but have plenty of knowledge and experience to offer and share given the chance.
There is something distinctly liberating about getting to ‘play’ with big pieces of paper, brightly coloured pens, sticky dots and even, on occasion, plasticine, drinking straws and bits of raw pasta!
These are not mere ‘gimmicks’. As you’ve hopefully worked out by now, participatory workshops are creative processes. Drawing pictures and making models force us to approach tasks in different ways and to think and communicate in ways which we wouldn’t otherwise do, or which would be hard and time-consuming in words.
The strengths and weaknesses and the challenges faced by a college can be be visialised simply as a result of the principal asking staff to spend 10 minutes visualising and explaining their institutions as a ‘journey’ during a ‘rich picture’ exercise.
The following is a useful list of things to have in readiness for your participatory workshop:
- Flip chart pads
- Packs of coloured marker pens (one pack per group)
- Packets of ‘sticky dots’
- Multiple packs of Post-it Notes in various colours
- Digital camera.
A video of a rich picture workshop at the University of Greenwich staff shows the approach in action.
Ready access to drinking water, tea, coffee and biscuits is also important.