When I was in school I didn’t enjoy sitting in a classroom for 8 hours each day. The stiff benches and chairs, the constant smell of chalk, and the closed atmosphere were not exactly my cup of tea.
The traditional classroom setting may seem a bit inflexible and hostile, but they’re made this way for a reason and have their advantages. They were created specifically to support teaching and learning activities.
I don’t want to encourage the standard classroom setting. I believe it’s time for it to evolve and over the last few years there have been many improvements towards more modern classrooms that better engage students.
But there are concepts that can be applied in the business world and companies may benefit from including some classroom elements into their trainings. These can be split into two categories:
Have a big blackboard. Most of the activity in a classroom happens on the blackboard, so why not do the same with trainings? People of any age learn faster when visuals are included. Slides are good for the visual part, but they’re not flexible. When it comes down to explaining more complicated aspects that require a lot of diagrams and formulas made on the go, there’s nothing better than having something handy to write on, draw, and erase.
I’m not saying you should ditch the big monitors or get a traditional blackboard and chalk. An easy solution is to set up a whiteboard or a flipchart to use for improvised notes when needed. Just make sure it’s big enough, so that everyone can easily see what you’re doing.
Silence. Classrooms are singular entities that are separated from each other and external disrupters. A training room should be the same. Don’t do trainings in the middle of an office space or in a temporary room where you have to squeeze people in. Invest in a proper room that will be dedicated to trainings. This will make people more comfortable and set the mood for the training sessions.
Have all the equipment ready. Every school student needs their textbook for a class. All your learners also need their course materials and supporting devices. I tend to believe that these days most training materials are digital, so before a training session, each learner should have a copy of the training materials and access to the system that will be used for training, like a business LMS.
If the training requires learners to use mobile devices, those should be prepared too.
Split the sessions into sections. In school, the teacher usually explains the theoretical part, then students get to practice the concepts, assisted by the teacher.
Trainings shouldn’t be much different. Avoid focusing on the theory and include plenty of practical examples. Get learners involved, let them apply what they learn and help them when needed. Encourage learners to ask questions by offering them small incentives such as extra points.
Include games. Students usually have trouble concentrating for too long on a subject. To make things more interesting teachers use games to capture their attention.
Actual games can help boost learner’s engagement, but gamified content is even better. Adult learners enjoy elements like leaderboards, badges, and points. All you need is a tool to help you build games within your training material.
Make learners collaborate. Team projects are the pillar of any classroom activity. In most cases it’s better to work in groups, because it helps students connect, share ideas, and deliver better results.
If your training subject allows it, split learners into teams and assign them different tasks. Keep learners motivated by including awards and other incentives for the teams with the best results. Make learners work together in teams even after the training session is done, so they can further collaborate.
In the end, corporate trainings are similar to school classes and sometimes traditional concepts can be applied successfully in the modern world, as long as they bring the desired results. Can you think of some other classroom elements that could be incorporated in business trainings?