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How To Make An IT Training Room Effective

An IT training room doesn’t need to be kitted out in every conceivable way to do its job, but some thought does have to be put into one to make it a viable teaching space. Every company handles its training processes in their own way, but most prefer to fill up a room to get everyone on the same page at once. Teaching an entire room full of people produces challenges, some of which can be fatal to effective instruction, and all of which can be solved with the smart use of modern A/V technology. Increasingly, businesses in many industries are turning to A/V solutions to better engage trainees and empower instructors. The result is more effective and more efficient training.

More Than Just a Room

A very common, but very problematic mistake that companies make is assuming that their trainees and new hires can learn in any environment. Although it’s not as much of a problem as it used to be, some industries discount the importance of thorough training, and therefore they discount the importance of a space dedicated to that training. But this isn’t rocket science – and reputable A/V integrators are experts at sizing up a room and adapting it for optimal training. For example, consider what A/V solutions can do for the typical IT training room:
  1. High quality digital displays – Projectors versus displays is a battle that has waged for many years. Until recently, projectors had the clear advantage in cost-effectiveness, but the rise of LED technology has turned the tide in favor of the digital display. Projectors can still offer a more affordable option if many rooms need to be outfitted with A/V technology, but in most cases, the focus is on a single room. And in this case, LED displays are a clear winner. LED displays offer superior image quality and superior visibility, so they can be seen by the trainees all the way in the back. The lights don’t need to be switched off to make the display work, which is useful for those times where trainees are expected to take down written notes, or refer to printed documentation. LED displays are also extremely reliable and long lived, offering several years of consistent performance before they need to be addressed by a technician.That last point is of particular note, as the constant need to switch out projector bulbs and filters is a noted issue with projectors. Another, though minor, bonus to working with an LED display is that LED displays do not pick up shadows, unlike projectors, which require an instructor to constantly check their position in relation to the projected image. For maximum visibility, it’s worth considering installing a pair of displays, positioned so that they will flank the instructor as they are presenting information. This layout ensures that trainees can always see at least one display at all times, no matter where the instructor roams in the room.
  2. Voice lifting technology – Rooms are not designed for their acoustics. There are so few exceptions to this observation that it’s practically an axiom. As such, instructors often overestimate how well they are heard, and most people are too polite to ask their teacher to speak up.Voice lifting technology normally comes in the form of a microphone that is worn and tied to speakers arranged around the room. With proper speaker placement, it’s possible to overcome any room’s acoustics, no matter how bad they are. In fact, A/V integrators have acoustics diagramming software that enable them to observe how sound moves through a room. That kind of a detailed picture gives integrators powerful insight into selecting and placing the right audio output technology. It goes without saying that clear audio is just as important as clear visuals. And it’s important that everyone in the room can be heard by everyone else. That’s why A/V solutions typically involve placing additional audio inputs at each training station. Modern microphones are adept at picking up speech only from the intended source, so they can be installed around the room with little fear of overlap. With this setup, instructors and trainees can go back and forth without shouting at each other. And not shouting at each other is a good way to keep training moving smoothly.
  3. Document cameras – Although most people look at IT training as largely dealing with software, professional IT training also involves the company’s approach to hardware. This can pose some challenges to a training room, as there’s no easy way to demonstrate hardware practices with a standard display or projector.A document camera can make this a bit more manageable, as they allow for a close up view of smaller items. An instructor can manipulate small components in three dimensions, allowing instructors to point out items of interest, like ports and slots.
  4. Interactive displays – Another benefit to working with digital displays is that they can be made interactive. SMARTboards and CleverTouch are a couple popular brands in this regard, and they allow instructors a new way to present information and bring trainees into the lesson. Interactive displays allow instructors to veer away from the tired PowerPoint slideshows and utilize a new lesson planning approach.This approach is much more dynamic and engaging than traditional static slide methods of delivering information. The CleverTouch, for example, comes with lesson planning software that allows instructors to easily drop in media and link to relevant content. Interactive display technology can also give instructors the ability to check training progress by prompting trainees to answer quick-fire questions. This immediate feedback provides insight into what concepts need further emphasizing.
  5. Room controls – Before training can take place, the room has to be set up for an optimal learning environment. A control interface, which can be placed anywhere, including up at the instructor’s podium, can establish these parameters with a single gesture. With one tap, the lights are brought up or down, the display is switched on and the relevant lesson is brought up immediately, audio inputs are made ready and audio outputs set to the proper level – everything is configured to a defined profile. Multiple profiles can be programmed in for every instructor’s preferences, and this is especially helpful when training is handled by a guest instructor. Instead of haplessly fumbling around with the system, a guest can access a basic profile that is already set up for them. No fuss, no delay.
  6. A couple extra touches – A/V solutions can get quite sophisticated, with an answer for nearly every problem, small or large. White noise systems, for example, can create a barrier of sound that cancels out any distracting noise outside of the room, and prevents people on the outside from eavesdropping.Conferencing technology is not all that common for training purposes, but there are times when a company will want to bring in an expert for a particular lesson. Conferencing technology can make that happen, and there are plenty of conferencing options to choose from. For training, a simple room conferencing setup is usually sufficient, and can be tied to the room’s audio inputs to allow for easy communication with the other party.
The real strength of A/V solutions is that they unlock instructors’ creativity in delivering a lesson. The goal, of course, is to ensure that the training sticks with the trainees after they leave the room, and if instructors are able to use the room to their advantage, they can provide lessons that do just that.