Anatomy of a Training Environment
What should be in the training room of the future? Times are changing as should the use and technology within a training room and training venue. But what technologies could be used to create an effective learning environment? While at some high-tech training rooms recently it got me thinking, what would I want in my perfect training room?
Let’s look at what most training rooms (should) contain:
- Powerpoint/ data projection
- Walls to put up posters/ user created flip-charts
Lets first say that the assumptions as to the use of the room are:
- Up to 16 delegates
- Suitable for Soft-skills training
- Suitable for use as a meeting room
- Suitable for IT based training
- Suitable for facilitation of planning meetings
The basics of a training room
I would expect the following basics are in place first in any high quality training venue:
- SPACE – the room should seat 20% more delegates than actually attending comfortable
- Ability to control light levels (and lights that are natural daylight colour)
- Natural light (windows)
- Ability to control the air temp/ air flow in the room
- Comfortable chairs
- Access to a lounge with comfy seating
- Access to syndicate/ breakout room
- Access to toilets
- Clock that the lead facilitator can see easily
- Easy access to refreshments/ water/ fruit/ dried fruit/ nuts
- Long cables on all the tech kit that do not cause anyone a trip hazard!
- Paper/ pens, stationary
- Place for coats/ bags
- Toys/ stimulating objects (A box of)
- Walls that can have flip-charts/ posters easily attached
- Sound damping – the room should not be subject from noise outside – or noise in the room impact others
- Support – easy contact to the people that can help in the event of missing items or additional resources needed
I hope it goes without saying that the venue is easy to find, parking/ public transport access etc. Disabled/ mobility impaired friendly
Furniture at the training venue
Any room must have some type of flexibility in terms of layout (see training room layout for more info)
Once we have a flexible layout we then need some equipment. Traditionally the most flexible equipment has been rail based – but this is cumbersome and rarely as flexible in practice as suppliers would have us to believe.
And now for something completely different
As the old saying goes – if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got! and this is just as true for training and learning environments. In addition we need to start to think about the environment and waste. Flip-charts are great for interactive work and for creating ownership by user generated content in a learning environment, but is it really sustainable – or even compatible with a digital based society?
So my ideal training environment (and most of this is available NOW so why don’t training providers or conference providers use this?….)
- A room with natural light – preferable from above – but one side with substantial windows is OK
- A data projector central at the front, complete with suitable sound system, DVD etc (no wires!) – or ceiling mounted
- 2 white boards, one either side of the projection area – full wall size – height & width
- White boards covering the other 2 usable walls
- Provision of drinking water etc in the room
- Wireless tablets connected together with collaboration software and connected for electronic polls etc with the main computer in the room
And then the “twist” for a training room of the future
The data projector screen is a SMART board function on a standard magnetic white board
All the white boards/ walls are magnetic… and each has its own low cost small pc, data projector & some have their own smart recorder (at least 2 in the room, ideally 4)
A printer to print any of the smartboard captures out for handouts if required or the ability to send/ email to participants.
The provision of traditional “flip-charts” are done via capture and then projection into a different part of the room as a poster for the remaining duration of the training. With PC’s costing less than £200, data projectors costing less than £200 and smart systems (digitization) from as little as £400, developing interactive solutions is not as expensive as it once was.
This way anything written on one of the smart areas, can be projected onto another area for participants to reference throughout the training. This is also then in a convenient format for circulating as post event reminders. Optionally white boards can be replaced by LCD screens – as long as they can be protected so that the smart board technology can be applied. In time these could just be large touch screen monitors with limited on-board processing.
The use of magnetic walls or boards can allow environmentally friendly use of planning and note taking strategies, as well as total flexibility, and if using magnetic paint rather than metal sheets a level of flexibility can be added to an existing room for little capital outlay.
Why are technology rooms for technology training , and ‘soft-skills’ training environments basically the same as they were 20+ years ago?
Technology has the ability to integrate and create interaction between people to enhance learning.
All of the tools outlined here can be purchased and implemented in an existing space, and in small steps, making the development not cost prohibitive. So why has this approach not take off universally? Simple… many trainers are not aware of what is available from a technology point of view, and technology based people rarely think of the psychology of learning.
Twitter in training
In addition a plasma screen could be available which is linked to a twitter (or yammer or other social business tool) feed of the trainer choice. this will allow for a range of interactions not possible. Especially of value for larger groups.
Footnote to Training Room Of The Future
This technology based solution does not rely on brain numbing powerpoint. Indeed using this approach you can record all activities that would usually take place on flip-charts and automatically digitize the content for distribution during or after the event. This post was originally written in 2010.
See our other posts on Training room layouts