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What is the best layout for an IT Training room?


I teach evening and weekend computer classes in various establishments where the layout of the room has all delegates sitting facing the wall. This permits the trainer to see at a glance whats happening on everyones screen and nip problems in the bud as soon as they occur. I work during the day as a full time trainer where we have a classroom style layout whereby all the delegates sit at desks which face the front of the room. This means that the trainer has to walk to the rear of the room to see what is happening on those delegates screens. We have a departmental difference of opinion on the better layout and I would welcome other IT trainers comments on this. Also if anyone has any documented references re this matter I would be grateful to know them.
Franck Lynch

6 Responses

  1. Is there really such a thing as a best layout?
    I do not believe there is a “best” lay out. I also teach in various locations where the classroom layout differs in this manner and have found what is good for the trainer is not always good for the student. Where as the facing the wall position, is good from the trainers prospective I have often had complaints from students that when I am using the SMART board at the front of the class they have found it awkward to keep turning around. I personally feel it is one of those lose lose situations where there is no right or wrong. With regard documentation I don’t think that there is specific legislation that covers classroom layout as it does Display Screen Equipment Use, however that is something I will now look into.
    Ian Cunningham

  2. Computer Room Layout
    I agree with Ian that there is possibly no best way to layout computers. I’ve used numbers of different ways, including the two you mention. You also have to consider where the electrical cabling is too … will it present a trip hazard? And the ergonomics for the students if they have to keep turning their heads or rolling their seats away from desks.

    One method I tried involved setting up the computers in an inverted V formation with the sharp end facing front. Our electrical connections came from the ceiling. It allowed students to see the front of the classroom without looking at someone else’s neck (to some extent) and allowed me to see what was on each participant’s screen from behind them.

    One distinct advantage of facing the wall is that you can display charts relating to shortcut keys etc.

  3. human solution
    Why not trial the courses with varying options of seating. then ask the people who really matter your delegates which option gave them the better learning opportunities. If your training is outcome based try measuring which room design delivers the best outcomes from the learner.
    It is obvious that no-one has a definative answer to this so create and prove your own solution.
    Remember to always be thinking what is best for my delegates not what is best for me.
    I am also aware of a teccy solution to having to walk around there is a switch which will allow you to remotely access your delegates screen. If you interested mail me back and i will get the details from my I.T Team.

  4. Classroom setup trainer not learner centered?
    In my experience, having the rows of desks facing the trainer can mean the delegate feels that they are being ‘trained’ and not there to be helped to learn – it can take delegates back to their schooldays where an expert imparts knowledge and they just sit back and listen (or follow instructions). This can inhibit learning.

    One way of overcoming this potential drawback is to have a setup in the middle of a room where the PCs are staggered in a ‘W’ pattern for e.g. 5 PCs. This has the advantage of delegates being able to see over the desk to others whilst also being next to others.

  5. Consider lighting when setting up an IT training room.
    As well as considering the practicalities of teaching, issues of lighting ought to be considered when setting up an IT training room. To avoid problems of light either reflecting off computer screens or glare from behind the screen, computer monitors should where possible be positioned at a right angle to any windows.

  6. Training room layout
    We’ve tried both ways and I prefer round the edge of the room.

    We used to have our training rooms set out in classroom style. Delegates complained because they couldn’t see the OHP/Whiteboard over the top of their (or other people’s) monitors. Also, they complained that if we wanted to see what they were doing on their PCs, we had to stand right behind them and they felt intimidated at times. We also found cabling to be a problem in classroom set-ups, stretching across the middle of the floor in places.

    We then changed all the training rooms to around the walls. We prefer this (as trainers) because we can easily see what is on their screens without having to be right next to them. Also, the cabling it much tidier/safer being near the walls. On the whole, the delegates prefer it this way, too, although some have said it’s a pain having to turn around when we want them to look at the whiteboard/OHP. Some also said that they didn’t like the fact that they had their backs to us while we were talking, but as you say, to see their PCs in a classroom set up, you have to stand at the back – so it can turn out that you are talking to their backs then, too. We believe that it is good for them to turn away from the monitor from time to time, to rest their eyes, anyway!

    We also feel that in a classroom set up, the trainer can come to rely too heavily on “demonstration” via the board/OHP whereas when the delegates are round the edge of the room, it is easier to give them the tasks to complete themselves, which for IT training is paramount to understanding.

    Take into consideration the light aspect, though, as an earlier correspondent mentioned. We have also put some eye-catching posters on the walls so that if they do look up from their screens, they don’t just have a blank wall in front of them. The posters are related to the things they will be covering during training, so they are not too distracting!


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