Even the best professional development programs can fall flat if they take place in a substandard, non-user-friendly environment. When companies recognize the value of providing their employees the best training room features available, they improve the overall learning experience and boost learners’ knowledge retention.
So what environment is most conducive to learning? The ideal learning environment is dedicated space designed for training. It’s the difference between a room to train in and a dynamic learning environment designed to promote engagement and collaboration—as well as enhanced knowledge retention. The actual physical space devoted to training should meet some basic criteria when it comes to accessibility, layout, technology and even climate.
Here’s a look at the top training room “must-haves” for your next event:
It’s important that the training space be large enough to comfortably accommodate the anticipated number of attendees. Falcon Products, the 'go-to' resource for training space design and furniture, recommends 15-17 square feet per participant to work comfortably and training facilities should have ceilings of 10 feet or higher, to allow for a spacious feel to the room.
In addition to legal restrictions, such as meeting specific ADA requirements, make sure the training venue is conveniently located and easily accessible. Nearby restrooms, comfortable break areas and an onsite café stocked with snacks, beverages and catered lunches will keep learners from wandering, disengaging and returning late from breaks. Avoid using a room that has pillars or posts already built in, as these can easily obstruct an attendee’s view of instructors, whiteboards, etc. Visit the venue and walk around the event space your learners will have access to throughout the training. Physically sit in the chairs the attendees will occupy to identify any other issues that may interfere with their ability to fully engage in the training.
Room temperature is a key element in the effectiveness of any training program. Being too hot or too cold increases the mind’s inability to focus. Given the wide range of individual preferences, what’s considered “just right” for one person might be too hot for another. That’s why it’s best when the thermostat and/or HVAC controls are located inside the training space itself, so heating and cooling functions can be manually adjusted as needs arise.
Best practices tip: Prior to the event, determine if the room temperature can be controlled from within the room. If not, ask the facility manager if they are able to make adjustments to the room temperature once the participants arrive.
As with temperature preferences, people respond differently to the degree of lighting in a training room. The best options, therefore, include the ability to easily program or dim lights as an individual situation requires. Ambient lighting is preferred to an artificial light source placed directly overhead—which may cause a glare on white board or device screens and cast shadows on a trainer’s face (adding an unwanted and potentially “sinister” effect!). Instructors should familiarize themselves with the light switches and diligently increase or decrease lighting as needed.
The optimum training lighting generally originates from a room’s windows—as long as the windows also come with easy-to-adjust drapes or shades. This is important so windows can be darkened when using a projection screen or other light-sensitive training devices.
What’s the most effective way to configure seating in the training space? If your goal is facilitating a free and relaxed exchange of ideas, a U-shaped or “seating in the round” generates an informal learning atmosphere, while a traditional classroom setting provides more of a dialogue between instructor and participants.
Proper posture helps people learn better. In ideal training rooms, participants sit in ergonomically-designed chairs with “just the right” degree of padding and swivel capacity. It’s also helpful if the chairs can be pneumatically adjusted for the most comfortable height and angle for individual users.
If tables are required for supplies or equipment, choose a room with tables that are durable and can be easily arranged for differing room layouts. It’s also a good idea to keep the table close to where participants are seated, thus maintaining a sense of physical intimacy rather than separation.
No training is complete without the use of technology, although the extent of necessary technology differs depending on the requirements of the training program. When it comes to training room technology, some of the most common requirements are:
- Desktop computers or BYOD ready
- Ceiling-mounted projectors and interactive whiteboards
- Two-way video conferencing with dynamic audio and high-definition video
- Cloud-based labs
For the vast majority of training programs, dedicated internet capability is another “must-have.” Your participants rely on having uninterrupted internet access and dependable high-speed broadband connections. Look for a training facility provider that offers a designated connection to your training space, with a guaranteed speed, so your connection doesn’t suffer because the group in the next room is taking up all the bandwidth.
A hybrid learning environment, incorporating the best of both virtual learning and live-classroom learning, is also increasing in popularity. Such technologies allow learners across the nation join in training sessions remotely, multiplying the reach and effectiveness of a single training session.
The perfect training venue should support and enhance the training program. The right training environment is key to ensuring an effective training program. Use these tips as a guide to choosing your next training venue.
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