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A workshop (in German working conference, working session, working group, course, course, seminar or think tank) is an event in the education system in which a smaller group works intensively on a topic for a limited, compact period of time. A characteristic is the cooperative and moderated way of working towards a common goal. This article covers workshops according to this understanding.

In science , workshops are a smaller counterpart to conferences . They differ in their closer focus on one topic, a smaller number of contributions and, in some cases, a longer discussion round after the presentations of the contributions. In the promotion of young music, art or literature, as well as related fields of practice, a workshop is understood as the meeting of established beginners with well-known specialist representatives in mostly one or two-day practice-oriented events.


Under moderation nor the Moderation is commonly understood. Moderation means a method of controlling communication in working groups, whereby the group should be guided cooperatively and collectively to a specific goal or result. In addition to common discussion structures in which a discussion leader guides and influences a conversation, the moderation should encourage the motivated, active cooperation of all those involved. The goal is a jointly developed result that is understandable for everyone. The work in groups and the moderation are inextricably linked.

Practical experience shows that in discussion groups and workshops, valuable working time is often tied up through unsystematic discussions. Interpersonal conflicts are dealt with at the factual level and the content of discussions on the defined topics digress. As a result, the urgently needed results are "postponed" or an unsuccessful conversation is broken off.

The moderation therefore plays an extremely important role in achieving the goals of a workshop. While the participating people are responsible for the content, the moderating person has process responsibility for the time and structure as well as the documentation of the results. By asking specific questions or theses, she supports the group in developing the results and ensures that the common thread in the exchange of views is maintained. She summarizes the contents and results of the workshop in a clear and understandable form.

Are tasks of moderation in a workshop

  • Definition of the workshop goal
  • Design of the course of the conversation (dramaturgy)
  • organizational preparation
  • introduction to the subject
  • Control of the discussion / conversation
  • Clarification of content in the event of ambiguities
  • Visualization and documentation of the results.

Differentiation from other types of events

The workshop character is given if

  1. a group outside of their regular activity takes a longer period of time for the specific solution of a task and works together on it,
  2. the results have an effect beyond the workshop,
  3. the management is taken over by a moderator (possible from outside),
  4. if necessary, specialists collaborate.

In addition: Active participation of group members, visualization of ideas and contributions as well as open planning in response to group events. On the other hand, it is not a workshop if the primary objective is to impart knowledge or if the imparted content is practiced in the event. Knowledge transfer in workshops only serves to help you cope with tasks.

In moderated workshops, people come together who want to develop strategies together, solve problems or learn from one another. The more interactions are triggered between the participants and the less prepared things are presented, the more new insights the participants will gain by learning from each other.

Online workshops are conducted over the Internet. An electronic meeting system (EMS) is used, which provides the participants with electronic tools that support the forms of interaction known from traditional workshops such as brainstorming ( brainwriting ), categorization, voting and discussions. The EMS is controlled by a moderator. Synchronous online workshops are regularly supplemented by a telephone or web conference .

Workshops lasting several days, in which most of the participants do not come from the venue (but have to stay overnight), are often referred to as camps , in the Internet area also BarCamp .


Before a workshop is planned, it is necessary to focus on the target group and the topic in terms of addressee orientation and to ask yourself what the workshop is supposed to achieve. According to Ulrich Lipp and Hermann Will, a distinction is made between the following workshop types in the area of ​​continuing education, especially adult education:

1. Problem-solving workshop As a reaction to a specific problem in a group; Is structured in the definition of the problem, determination of the goals, analysis of the influencing factors, development of problem solutions, presentation, evaluation and decision, as well as a final catalog of measures.

2. Conflict resolution workshop Suitable to clarify a current conflict between two conflicting parties. In the process, each party initially draws a positive balance (which went well). This is followed by a diagnostic phase, whereupon perspectives are found that lead to wishes and offers, which are finally discussed in a negotiation phase and implemented with a catalog of measures.

3. Conceptual workshop Example: A new concept for a citizens' initiative: At the beginning, the task area is defined so that it becomes clear which framework conditions exist. The conceptual goals are then clarified, which shows what should change in the previous concept. Once this has happened, the conceptual content is worked out in groups to show how the goals can be achieved. In the plenum, the individual ideas are evaluated, condensed and passed on to the groups for further processing. Only then, outside of the workshop, will the concept be drawn up.

4. Decision workshop example: A decision should be made for a model for energy generation. At the beginning of the workshop it is determined that of all models (forms of energy generation are also combined in some models) only one will remain at the end. Each model is now presented by a participant. Assessment criteria are then collected in order to then evaluate them individually. On the basis of this, three favorites are chosen, which are examined more closely in order to then come to a decision on a model.


  • Angela Bolland: Learning workshops and teaching . In: Astrid Kaiser, Detlef Pech (ed.), History and historical conceptions of general science, pages 177–186. Schneider-Verlag Hohengehren, Baltmannsweiler 2004. ISBN 3-89676-860-3 .
  • Josef W. Seifert: Visualize - Present - Moderate . 31st edition, Gabal Verlag, Offenbach 2012, ISBN 978-3-86936-240-3

Web links

Wiktionary: Workshop  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Said in German. Retrieved July 20, 2019 .
  2. Moderation: Leading a workshop to success found on July 20, 2014.
  3. a b Ulrich Lipp, Hermann Will: The big workshop book: conception, staging and moderation of exams, meetings and seminars . 8th edition. Beltz, 2008, ISBN 978-3-407-36459-3 .