Creating the right learning environment
I have just recently been a delegate on a course, not for me as a trainer, but for me in my role as church treasurer. It was good to be on the receiving end of the learning for a change and enabled me to get a good insight into the perspective of the learner.
Venues vary tremendously from client to client and hotel to conference centre but as a trainer it is one of the areas that nobody tells you about. Very often you have to spend the first 10-15 minutes setting up or sorting out the room to make it conducive to the learning of your delegates. This had been thought about a little in the venue I was at….yes there was daylight and yes we could all see the screen for the PowerPoint presentation, but you couldn’t see the presenters and if you had been at the front you would’ve disturbed a lot of people if you had wanted to go out for a wee.
People who design meeting rooms, conference rooms and church halls forget that if they want to sell it as a training venue, that you are a trainer will want to walk in amongst your delegates not lecture from the front…this is especially true if you are an experiential trainer. Yet the designers/IT people insist in putting the plugs in the middle of the floor so you have to tip toe through the cables all day. Or the tables are fixed so that you cannot move them, this means that not only can you not move from the front very easily, but also the exercises that you have designed for small groups are very hard to facilitate….or even just getting people to work in small groups is restricted by the furniture.
Daylight is also so important for assisting the attention span of the delegates as well as allowing fresh air to be circulated. I have trained in a number of venues without natural light and as the trainer you have to take this into consideration with your delegates and their learning capacity. Last week as a delegate it was great that some of the daylight was allowed into the room, however because the session was completely tutor led and driven by PowerPoint half the windows had to be covered so people could see the screen!!
The other key area to consider is the seating arrangements; can all the delegates see the visual aids that you will be using? Can they see you? How well can they see each other? This latter point is very important if a high percentage of your programme is based around facilitated discussions. Hopefully as well, the seats will have arms as this assists the comfort of your delegates. Remember that the mind will only take in as much information as the posterior can endure!!
You also have to consider the number of people that you will have attending your session….I was one of 50 people last week, so yes, it was a lecture not a learning session, consequently there was little interaction between learner and trainer which for learning styles like mine (active, participative) was not good at all. In fact I spent a lot of the time on my social media sites…my apologies to the trainer but I was bored and that is a whole other subject to talk about in the future!!
So lets make our learning environments more conducive to learning and ensure that our learning outcomes are met and we don’t bore our delegates to death!!
Thanks for your time, Suzanne Unsworth