Welcome to the Facilitator’s Guide for "Exposing the Invisible" Workshops! This resource includes general guidelines and tips for facilitators and trainers who wish to conduct workshops based on the curricula we provide on this website. You will find a brief background about the workshops, suggested tools and activities as well as recommendations on how to start, run and conclude a workshop. Feel free to adapt these guidelines and the workshop plans according to your audience's needs and context. We invite you to reach out to us with any questions and feedback that can help improve and expand the workshops.
About the Workshops
The "Exposing the Invisible" Workshops are based on previous research, guides, training and collaborative events developed by Tactical Tech's Exposing the Invisible project team together with experienced investigators including journalists, activists, researchers, artists and technologists.
Most workshop plans include references to materials from Exposing the Invisible: the Kit, a resource including guides and case studies on investigative techniques and tools used by experienced investigators and made more accessible to people and communities who want to start their own investigations.
Additional, external resources are also included for further reading, inspiration or recommendation of tools to use in specific workshop contexts.
Note that the external tools and online platforms we list for various activities are simple suggestions and you can find many alternatives; we do not endorse, advertise or receive any sponsorship from these recommendations.
The "Exposing the Invisible" workshop plans are designed to be delivered either online or in-person.
Workshop times are generally kept within the range of 2 to 4 hours; breaks are not included.
Workshops are divided into sections. The duration of each section is between 15 and 75 minutes.
It is recommended to give a short break or run an energizer activity every 45- to 60-minute intervals but the need will vary depending on the type of activities conducted in each section and how interactive they are.
Each workshop starts with an Opening section and ends with a Closing section.
Workshops are designed so that at least 50% percent of the time is spent on interactive activities.
In the Exposing the Invisible workshop plans, each learning activity includes the following details:
We design the learning activities following Diana Laurillard's Conversational Framework. Based on this framework, the six learning types you will find in the workshop plans are:
Read, Watch, Listen - participants acquire knowledge from presentations, audio-visual material, etc.
Investigate - participants learn from inquiry based activities and challenges.
Discuss - participants learn from conversations, debates, discussions.
Practice - participants learn or apply acquired skills and knowledge through tasks and exercises.
Collaborate - participants acquire knowledge and skills by collaborating with peers in team activities.
Produce - participants learn or share information, knowledge and skills by creating something individually or in groups.
- The allocated time is the time needed to complete the activity, including giving instructions and debriefing.
Tools / Materials
- These are activity-specific tools and materials needed for both online and in-person delivery of workshops.
- Here you will find step-by-step instructions of how to run the workshop activity.
- These are suggestions for follow-up questions or explanations after the activity.
Delivering the Workshops
Preparing for the Workshop
You can always mix and match the activities, but when you do so, make sure that you are using a variety of activity types and that you alternate them frequently. For instance, try to avoid running a series of "Read Watch Listen" (presentation) activities for an hour.
Consider the level of experience of the group and if they want to apply the skills to a certain area of investigation or research. Tailor the visual material, exercises, and games to participants' needs.
Whenever possible, use examples that are relevant to the context of the audience. To make the sessions even more relevant, you can start by asking participants to share a series of relevant work or research scenarios and cases (hypothetical or real examples) that they are interested in or would like to find answers to. Make sure to always warn your participants about the potential risks of exposing sensitive or confidential information when they mention real cases.
Prepare a list of all the information you'd like to share with your audience such as the background and purpose of a specific workshop, the workshop context, information about resources, logistics, important contacts, etc. These details can be presented whenever you see fit.
Opening the Workshop
How you start-off the workshop is critical as it sets the tone for the entire workshop. It is not a hit-or-miss situation but starting-off well makes things smoother later on.
Try to grab the attention of your audience from the first couple of minutes. Some ideas for how to grab attention:
ask a question to engage participants,
talk about a current event that is relevant to the workshop topic,
comment on a relevant topic, image, etc.
Introduce the workshop
The important steps at this stage are:
briefly introduce yourself, your current work and how you relate to the workshop topic,
introduce the workshop objectives and agenda,
introduce the source of the workshop material and others who contributed to its development (if the case).
Facilitate participants' introductions and icebreaker
The purpose of this activity is for you to become familiar with your audience and for participants to get to know each other. It is always worthwhile to spend some time sharing experiences and expectations as informally as possible.
You can go for a simple activity such as:
ask participants to share a question they'd like to have answered by the end of the workshop,
ask participants to share expectations, hopes and fears regarding the workshop,
ask participants: "How does [the topic of the workshop] relate to your work?"
alternatively, you can pick an icebreaker exercise that encourages participants to get creative by drawing answers or ideas on an online whiteboard or, if off-line, stand up and perform some tasks. Check the Icebreakers section in this giude for suggestions.
Set ground rules
Always introduce some basic ground rules for the workshop and mention how you expect participants to act and react, collaborate, respect each other and address possible tensions constructively. Workshop ground rules could include:
speak up and step back
respect confidentiality and privacy
mute yourself when you aren't talking
there is not such thing as stupid questions
Ask participants whether they would like to modify your suggestions or add other rules. Ensure that everybody understands and agrees with the rules.
If you are running a longer training (one or more days with the same group), consider co-developing a Common Code of Conduct or a Shared Agreement where all the participants have the opportunity to contribute. A simple and effective exercise of establishing a Common Code of Conduct can consist of a group exercise where participants list their expectations under two main categories:
How you expect to be treated during the workshop / What should happen
How you expect not to be treated during the workshop / What should not happen
See some additional tips in the "Shared Agreements" section of Tactical Tech's Gender and Tech curriculum guide.
Closing the Workshop
Sum up the workshop content
This is the time to provide a summary of the workshop, to emphasize its main points and any memorable moments or findings.
It is crucial to keep your participants informed about what is going on at all times. Here is how to do that:
in the workshop introduction - tell participants what is going to happen
during each part of the workshop - remind them what is happening
at the end of the workshop - tell them what just happened.
In addition, at the end, trainers / facilitators need to make sure they point out which expectations have been addressed.
Run a quick live review of the workshop
Each participant shares with the group (verbally or on a shared whiteboard):
one thing they found very good about the session and
one thing they would improve for the next time.
Further feedback activities
The purpose is for you to collect informal feedback regarding what the participants actually learned during the workshop. Time-pending, you can use one or more of the activities below, combined:
If possible, ask participants to share more detailed impressions through a post-workshop feedback form. The form could include questions like:
Were your expectations met?
What did you find most useful?
What did you find least useful?
What are the top three things you got from this workshop?
How could the workshop be improved?
A quick (but not so accurate) way for participants to give feedback is the Evaluation Wheel where they rate different aspects of the workshop by placing a point on one of the axes of the wheel to create a web.
- The closing part of the workshop could also include an "I pledge to ..." activity, whereby participants share a specific promise to make a small change in their life or work based on what they have learnt in the workshop.
Final tips and logistics
In addition to feedback, at the end of the workshop make sure you:
allocate a few minutes for any final words, or to highlight a main message,
encourage participants to ask pending questions or share final tips,
share contact information if relevant, and any follow-up details or logistics.
Running Small Group Activities
For small group activities, divide the participants into groups of 3 to 5 people.
Depending on group size, you can assign roles to keep everyone engaged. You can also encourage participants to adopt various roles voluntarily when working in groups. These roles can include Facilitator, Note-taker, Timekeeper, Presenter, Designer (if a visual presentation is required.), etc.
It is recommended to share a timer on the screen for energizers and small group activities.
Using Online Delivery Tools
Make good use of the features offered by the video conferencing tool you are using, for example:
public chat can be used when you need to get quick answers to a question,
"raise hand" feature is useful for you to moderate discussions,
breakout-rooms are an essential feature for running small group activities online.
For instance, BigBlueButton (BBB) is an open source video conferencing platform that enables break out rooms, shared note-taking and drawing, "select random user" and "start a poll" features, which you can use to make your workshops more engaging.
NOTE: for recommendations on how to evaluate the safety, reliability and other aspects of digital tools you use (for communication, video-conferencing, data sharing, etc) based on context and needs, we recommend you to read our article "Technology Is Stupid: How to choose tech for remote working", also available in French and Spanish.
Audience engagement applications
You can use various applications to increase engagement of the audience with live polling, quizzes, etc..
Before introducing additional applications in your workshop activities, check if the video conferencing tool you are using already has these features.
Also check that new applications you want to use for audience engagement allow your participants to join "as visitors", ideally without having to create new user accounts (thus disclosing personal information and contacts) or paying a fee to join.
These applications are useful for collaborative activities where everyone is invited to take part and contribute their ideas.
Note that some video conferencing tools already have this feature.
Use online forms to create pre-workshop assessments, feedback forms, quizzes, etc.
Evaluating the Workshops
Write down a quick debriefing of your workshop as soon as possible after completing it. Include your thoughts on what you think went well and what didn't.
Keep track of the time that each activity takes in order to update your workshop plan in the future.
Register workshop details such as the number of participants, the type of audience, date and time, and any other information that might be relevant for your workshop assessment and further planning.
Remove any personal details of participants and do not use / share / store personally identifiable data beyond the minimum necessary for reporting or logistic reasons.
Additional Learning Activities
Problem - Solution
- Present a real or hypothetical problem, and ask people to pitch in their solutions. You can ask them for their input individually or you can divide them into pairs.
Things in Common
- Divide participants into smaller groups and give them 5 minutes to discuss about themselves and create a list of details they have in common.
Introductions with a Twist
- Ask everyone to introduce themselves and state something unusual about them, for instance their "useless superpower."
- Ask participants to introduce themselves and present their job, favorite food, or any other personal detail by drawing. Other participants need to guess what is being drawn in less than a minute. This can take some time, so we recommended to use it with small audiences of maximum 8 participants.
Line Up (in-person only)
- Ask participants to line up based on a feature such as: height, age, distance where they come from to the location of the workshop, etc. You can get creative. You can also increase difficulty by making the group line up without speaking.
Human Bingo (in-person only, and for very long events)
This ice breaker exercise can be very entertaining but it requires a lot of time; it can take up to 40 minutes depending on the group size.
To run this activity you need to create and print out a 3x3 or 5x5 grid / table with a description in each box, for example: "someone who has a red pen in their bag" or "someone skilled with photography", etc.
Participants need to mingle and talk until they find someone to whom the description applies, and have them sign the box.
The rule is that a person can only sign once. You cannot sign for yourself. More about this activity here
Keep these activities at hand and use them between different sessions and when energy levels are low. They can be adapted for online and offline workshops.
Share a Wish!
- On an online whiteboard, invite people to post a GIF or an image that best represents each of their wishes. Encourage your group to be creative and find expressive GIFs or images.
The Time Machine
- Invite people to choose a time in history where they would like to go back. Ask them to spend five minutes finding an image or GIF that best illustrates their chosen period of time (funny is best!) and have other team mates guess the time period.
- In this short virtual energizer, a group must count up to a number (usually twenty), taking turns at random, with no two people speaking at the same time.
- If two people speak at the same time, even for a second, the group must start over at number 1.
- The group has succeeded when they have counted up to the set number.
- The key with this energizer is that people cannot communicate beyond saying the numbers, and so must work together non-verbally.
- Start by calling out something to touch, such as "touch blue" or "touch something warm."
- Each participant then has to move and touch something that is blue or warm. If the activity takes place online, this might be something on their desk, an item of clothing, or something they have to go and find on their bookshelf, etc.
- Once done, they have to indicate that in the chat.
- The last person to find an object has to select the next attribute.
Please reach out to us at Exposing the Invisible if you:
have any questions about the workshop plans and facilitator's guidelines,
use our workshop plans and want to share feedback and suggestions that can help to improve them,
adapt our workshop plans to a specific context and want to share the results with us,
want to suggest new activities, tips or examples that can be added to existing workshop plans,
want to share your expertise and collaborate with us on developing and testing new workshops.
Contact email: email@example.com (GPG Key / fingerprint: BD30 C622 D030 FCF1 38EC C26D DD04 627E 1411 0C02).
Credits and Licensing
CC BY-SA 4.0
This content is produced by Tactical Tech's Exposing the Invisible project, and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license
Authors of "Exposing the Invisible" workshops: Ankita Anand, A. Hayder, Léopold Salzenstein, Nuria Tesón, Tetyana Bohdanova
Instructional design: A. Hayder
Editorial and content: Christy Lange, Laura Ranca, Wael Eskandar
Graphic design: Yiorgos Bagakis
Website development: Laurent Dellere, Saqib Sohail
Project coordination and supervision: Christy Lange, Laura Ranca, Lieke Ploeger, Marek Tuszynski, Safa Ghnaim, Wael Eskandar
This resource has been developed as part of the Collaborative and Investigative Journalism Initiative (CIJI) co-funded by the European Commission under the Pilot Project: "Supporting investigative journalism and media freedom in the EU" (DG CONNECT).
This text reflects the author’s view and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.