Module 5 - Learning Environments
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Don't assume that all learning has to take place in the classroom. 'Open learning' and 'distance learning' widen the choice of learning environments and, of course, we all learn as we go about our daily lives. Choices of learning environment include:
- At home,
- The work place,
- Open Learning Centres,
- Meeting rooms,
- Dedicated training rooms,
- Sports centres and social clubs,
- Residential training centres .
Home learning is suitable for programmed learning; it is inexpensive and many people would welcome the opportunity to learn at home.
The disadvantages are:
- possible distraction by home pressures,
- isolation from tutors,
- lack of specialized equipment.
When we think of home learning we often think it is limited to text-based training. Home learning can be more creative if ways are found to overcome the disadvantages of isolation and access to equipment.
Isolation can be overcome by using the telephone email or the Internet. Messages can be sent between tutor and students by e-mail, instant messaging or video links. Access to learning materials all over the world can be obtained via the Internet. Videos can be broadcast from existing television stations, either during the day for large audiences or as a scrambled signal during the night for small specialist audiences. The night-time programmes can be automatically recorded by anyone who has a suitable decoder. A broadband connection enables videos to be streamed or downloaded over the Internet.
The Open University sends laboratory kits to its science and technology students by road. It is also possible for service engineers to learn how to repair computer equipment on their kitchen tables!
In the workplace
People do most of their learning outside the classroom, but much of it is random and unstructured. To make the most of experiential learning the student needs to have an experienced coach and a planned series of structured experiences.
Open Learning Centres
Open learning centres are purpose-built rooms fitted with all the equipment and materials needed for private study. They provide flexibility in terms of time and students can learn at their own pace. Open learning centres are particularly useful in manufacturing areas because breaks in production are difficult to predict.
Purpose-built meeting rooms are suitable for short training courses, but they are usually too small and the wrong shape for larger classes.
Dedicated training rooms
Dedicated training rooms may well be ideal if you were involved in the design and paid attention to the following:
- size and shape of training room,
- capacity of training room,
- heating and ventilation,
- light switches,
Distraction by work-related problems is the main disadvantage of an on-site training room. Some companies have dedicated training rooms at their head offices which means that most people have to travel to their courses. This helps to minimize disruptions. They also block-book bedrooms at a local hotel. This is cheaper than running courses at a commercial residential training centre, and avoids the problems and cost of running your own residential centre.
Many hotels are properly equipped to function as conference centres, but too many others see conferences and training courses only as a means of filling empty rooms. They often have to hire in all the training equipment. Function rooms double as meeting rooms, and bedrooms have the beds removed to provide syndicate rooms. I have even seen instances of syndicate rooms not being ready until 11 o'clock because the hotel had rented them to guests the night before!
Sports centres and social clubs
Much of what has been said about hotels also applies to sports centres and social clubs, except that the standard is even more variable. Don't automatically disregard these venues, however, because some of them provide excellent service and facilities at competitive prices. Always make sure that you carry out a thorough site survey nevertheless.
Residential training centres
Residential training centres are in the business of providing excellent training facilities in suitable surroundings. They are also very expensive. You would only use a residential training centre for longer, more complex courses.
Training and Conference Centre Directory
Choosing a Training and Conference Centre
Hints and Tips for Training and Development
Managing the Training Process