Center for Teaching and Learning


 The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW)


What is the ISW?

a) Description

The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) is designed to encourage reflective practice, participatory learning, and to assist participants in developing their teaching skills and providing effective feedback to learners. The underlying principles of the workshop include participatory learning, diversity of learning, adult learning, and the building of community that can be utilized in classrooms and institutions. A handbook of resources is provided to augment the workshop.

Participants successfully completing the entire 3- or 4-day program (24 hours) receive a certificate of completion, recognized by many Canadian and international institutions. Participants also benefit from joining a network of colleagues who are committed to self-discovery and continual improvement of teaching and learning. Interested participants can become facilitators of the ISW program by taking the 5-day Facilitators Development Workshop (FDW), and forming part of an institutional team responsible for delivering and supporting the ISW program.

b) History and Evolution

The ISW was first developed in British Columbia in 1978 as a result of an expansion of new colleges that required professional development programming for their new instructors. Designed initially by Doug Kerr of Vancouver Community College, supported by Diane Morrison of the then British Columbia Ministry of Education, and modified by many members of the ISW Network, the ISW has since grown and expanded across Canada, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Mexico, and parts of India, Africa and Asia. ISW is a not-for-profit initiative and is supported by the International Advisory Committee consisting of a group of volunteers representing areas from across North America and in the Middle East. The ISW International Advisory Committee supports annual professional development events for ISW facilitators and maintains an international list serve and web site. For more information, visit


2) Essential components of an ISW

Widely recognized as a forum for peer-based instructional development, the ISW is designed to strengthen instructors' skills through intensive, yet practical exercises in learning-centered teaching. Mixing small and large group interaction, the ISW program engages participants in:


  • generating effective feedback and discussion
  • planning and delivering "mini-lessons"
  • developing participatory instructional techniques
  • listening actively
  • learning and teaching collaboratively
  • modelling adult learning principles

Through the workshop, facilitators provide constructive feedback, encouraging participants to experiment and attempt new methods not normally used in their discipline or practice. Video is used to provide an individualized record of progress and participants are actively engaged in the feedback process.

During the workshop period, (generally three or four days long), each participant conducts a 10-minute lesson each day (three total) in a small group of no more than six people, receiving oral, written and video feedback on her/his performance. Everyone attending the program is videoed, and feedback is constructive. On Day 1 of the ISW, the facilitators spend a considerable amount of time establishing a safe learning environment for all participants. Team building, group exercises and icebreakers are an important part of establishing a learning community conducive to exploring one’s teaching issues.

Participants are also sent an email in advance of the ISW outlining the “Six Elements of a Lesson” which follows a lesson planning model that is helpful as a starting point for discussions on instructional design and delivery. Participants may choose any topic that appeals to them but are encouraged to teach something not related to their disciplines or areas of instruction on the first day so that the group can focus on the instructional design process rather than the content of the lesson.

Each teaching/feedback cycle is 40 minutes long, consisting of a 10-minute set up period, a 10- minute instructional period, 7 minutes of written feedback by the group while the participant and facilitator debrief, and a 13 -minute group feedback process. The instructional cycles are interspersed with large group discussion (if more than one group is running simultaneously) on teaching related questions such as learner motivation, facilitating groups, assessment issues, teaching/learning styles and other topics identified by the participants. Each workshop participant presents a total three 10-minute lessons, one lesson per day and prepared the evening before.

The end of the workshop focuses on a celebration of the strengths of each of the instructors. Given that the ISW is a developmental model, the facilitators work hard to ensure that each member of the group is able to reflect on individual strengths, areas of opportunity for growth, and reflections on how these skills can best be incorporated into the classroom or training context.

ISW around the World

A very successful professional development initiative for educators, the Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) was created in British Columbia, Canada in 1979. Since then, hundreds of educators have served as ISW Facilitators in colleges, institutes, universities, polytechnics, hospitals government departments, non-profits, and training organizations around the world.

Countries where Instructional Skills Workshops have been offered are listed alphabetically below within Regions.




Caribbean & Central America


Hong Kong


South Sudan
The Gambia




Middle East


North America


   South America

United Arab Emirates

United States


ISW for the First Time in Pakistan


Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW)

Number of Participants: 4

Date: 28th – 30th May, 2016

Facilitator: Ms. Sadia Asif (ISW Trainer)


Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) organized Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) for the first time in Pakistan. The Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) was laboratory approach to the improvement of learning and teaching. It was an intensive 3-day workshop, about 24 hours long. ISW workshop can accommodate only 4-6 participants so the participants of the workshop were Ms. Shabana Aslam (Principal, The Punjab School Township Campus), Ms. Humaira Ashfaq (Vice Principal, The Punjab School Kot Khawaja Saeed Campus), Ms. Misbah Najiullah (Trainer at Trainer Wizards) and Mr. Hamid Raza (Assistant Professor, SSC-UMT).

During the workshop participants reviewed basic ideas about teaching, checked current practices, and within the safe environment of the workshop, tried out new strategies and techniques. Each participant prepared and conducted three 10-minute mini-lessons. The mini-lesson instructors received feedback for the other workshop participants on the effectiveness of their lessons.

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