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Seb Anthony

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Training Environments


I am in the process of designing a new training building and I am sure I am not the first to be asked to give a specification of my needs.

I am interested not just in your opinions as to the training rooms but also the “total experience” the delegates have from the car park to the fare well.

andrew moon

6 Responses

  1. Great Opportunity
    Dear Andrew

    What a marvellous opportunity! As you say, it is all about the experience and not the room itself, per se.

    As an outsider, that is self-employed in the field of human actualisation, when I look for venues, some of my considerations are:
    Natural light (east and west are really nice; south can get too hot in the summer, and too much north can be too cold in the winter)
    Parking and ease of access for public transport;
    General neighbourhood – is it clean and “presentable”? Stimulating? Most dynamic areas generally are those in early stages of growth – artists / bohemians / new agers tend to highlight an up and coming “boom” area;
    Relaxed furnishings;
    Food – organic; holistic; vegetarian (exciting veggie, not routine);
    Toilets – oh my goodness! What goes in must come out – are they clean, pleasant, beautiful?;
    Power points in the room itself (okay; I use very few personally, but it can be very important) . . .

    There’s so much more, but it all boils down to the experience for delegates – how do I like to feel when I go on a course? Firstly, like it’s a special event because for me, it is. Secondly, that I haven’t spent ALL my money on the venue, but rather that the venue houses elements of uniqueness that charm the eye and mind, as opposed to sometihng OTT extravagant or mundanely routine.

    I want to feel comfortable, and in a clean environment. This is also reflected in any materials that are given out. Decent, high quality photocopies are perfect; a little bit of colour, nice. But glossy brochure types of handouts make my heart grow cold. I know how much it costs to produce them and how many you have to order. This means a certain amount of inflexibility, and again, I start feeling like I’m just a sheep waiting to be dipped.

    And so you know, Andrew, I’m a former “trouble maker” on courses; you know the kind that sit at an angle to the facilitator and ask awkward questions, are reluctant to participate, also known as polarity responders. And also known as creative geniuses . . . I’d rather be in a slightly shabby place with excellent food than an excellent place with shabby food.

    As you mention, it IS about what is going in – into through the five senses and into the mind, too.

    Let me know how you get on!

    Happy New Year

  2. First impressions count
    Maps and Directions
    Carparking and access
    Welcoming and comfortable environment
    Good refreshments on arrival

    Once there then its down to course content, delivery etc.

    A pet hate for me are Vertical or horizontal venietian blinds, they always break. Good standard roller blinds that can be set at different hights and work properly. Two small ones are often better than one big one

    Good luch with your new venture

  3. Training Facilities
    It is good that you are being involved from the ground floor, if you will forgive the pun. But there is a lot to consider.
    In a way it is a bit like deciding what training to do – you have to start with needs.
    What type of training will need to be accomodated and how flexible will the facility need to be? And even when you answer these questions there is still a bit of guesswork if you want to really future-proof the design.
    The other issue is resources. We have a fairly new facility with all blue tooth technology, high definition projectors, speakers built in to the ceiling and so on. But it didn’t come cheap.
    In the absence of the above info here are my top ten. I hope they may stimulate your thoughts if not give definitive answers.
    1. I’d make the main rooms 60:40 (slightly longer than wide).
    2. I’d make each room a slightly different size to accomodate different group sizes.
    3. I would make syndicate rooms different sizes for the same reason, perhaps having one big enough to act as a mini training room. Include spy holes.
    4. I would build in more electrical sockets than you think you need. Centre front, to the sides and recessed in the floor. I would also have sockets at the back for things like a water cooler, fan, etc.
    5. If you are doing PC based training I would consider various layouts before deciding (eg pairs in two rows, outward facing, etc.)
    6. Generally I prefer a rail system at the sides of the room, ideally with two rails at different heights. Whether you go for a front rail system or for free-standing flipcharts and electronic whiteboards is a matter of personal preference, though I and many trainers prefer the latter for flexibility and ease of use.
    6. Make sure which rooms face which direction (for sun light and summer heat). For enviromental reasons you may want to minimise built in air conditioning but for south facing rooms it really is vital.
    7. Make sure your lighting switches on and off variably (dims in rows starting at the front – so you can dim the front seperately if necessary).
    8. Build in secure boxing for a PC, DVD recorder, Video recorder (if you are still using videos) and a sound system). Consider having visualisers rather than OHPs. If this lot is not to be blue tooth, then make sure you can connect to it (eg with a laptop) in more than one place, preferebly off-centre at the front.
    9. Check existing facilities and see how many people they can get in with different room layouts. Set your room size to take at least 10% more than the expected maximums you have in mind.
    10. Think about abience – light but warm neutral colours in north facing rooms, for example; colour coordinated chairs; sitings for posters, plants, brochure racks. And privacy, such as having binds on doors with glass panels (so you have the best of both worlds).
    Hope this helps

  4. comfortable and flexible pls!
    I agree with all comments made so far. For me comfort and flexibility is crucial. If I were designing my own training centre, I would consider the following, picked from my personal favourite venues…

    1. Temperature control, and the option for fresh air. (I.e opening windows, lots of natural light, and a garden / outside space). Cooler temperatures do help to maintain attention – but you do need the option to manipulate as necessary.
    2. Things for mental stimulation (i.e: plants, fish tanks, interesting pictures, library, physical puzzles etc).
    3. Careful choice of colour (worth researching into the most conducive colours for learning).
    4. Comfortable / ergonomic chairs (so many people complain about physical comfort).
    5. Different style seating areas (perhaps with sofas etc). Can double up as syndicate / discussion areas.
    6. Water machines, bowls of fruit.
    7. SPACE, SPACE, SPACE! (Less is definately more)
    8. Wall space – so you can redocarate with posters for each training.
    8. And a absolute MUST, is the flexibility to move and remove furniture (especicially tables), and to also be able to alternate the front of the training to create state change (therefore flipchart stands preferable to bolted onto walls).

    I would recommend reading Accelerated Learning for the 21st Centure by Colin Rose – to really appreciate how vital environment is to learning.


  5. Everyone forgets this
    Everyone forgets to add storage space. You need somewhere to store your materials.



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