When it comes to the target group of our French partner organization, many times simple workshops such as learning how to use a computer could bring huge benefits. But how can we turn this into a pleasant, insightful networking opportunity at the same time? And how can we bring all this outside?
Name of the activity: Digital café
Duration: approximately half a day and it can be repeated many times, in the form of weekly sessions.
Preferred location: outside, on a terrace or in a garden, preferably in a quiet place with good internet connection; it is also recommended to have natural areas around (forest, lake, field, etc.) so that your participants can wander around and do some assignments as well.
Working method: learning by doing, individual work, interaction with others, group work.
Purpose (expected impact, outcomes): supporting adult learners in their digital development, while offering possibilities for networking and for creating local connections.
Materials: each person needs to have a computer or another device of your choice – depending on your learning material (in case this is not possible, you can have 1 device for every 2-3 people), post-its, papers, pens, markers.
Instructions: spend a couple of hours together going through certain parts of computer usage together with your participants. You can structure this activity in many ways, start with small steps and then move to more complex assignments. Since the purpose of this meeting is to let your participants discover different elements and to let them speak with each other, make sure you also create the exercises according to this. You can let them figure out and teach each other whatever they would like to learn, you can also bring more specific guidelines and ask them to figure out certain things (such as creating a word document, sending emails, etc.). No matter what kinds of assignments you choose, make sure you create opportunities for interaction between your participants; since it is beneficial to keep the event dynamic, you can include assignments that they need to do in nature (such as taking a picture or making a video) and then ask them to upload these to their computers, send them to other people, etc. Since working on computers can also be quite static and monotonous, you can include colorful post-its, drawings and various dynamic sub-activities.
Debriefing: at the end of each session, it is beneficial to have a conversation with your participants about various things that they have learned and about the way they are individually learning; then you can figure out further steps that they would like to take in the upcoming sessions.
Possible alternatives, changes for different circumstances: since the activity itself offers a wide frame, you can do various things in order to turn this event into an impactful experience. Feel free to play around with the assignments that you give, with the method that you use, and with the resources you have around. You can also involve your participants from the very beginning in preparing the space for these activities, cooking lunch, arranging decorations or putting background music so that they can actively shape their own learning experience; this is what we mean by inclusion.