I went to school in Indiana. When you think of universities in Indiana, you probably think of IU, Purdue, Notre Dame and maybe even Butler. I am a DePauw University alumni. It’s a much smaller school that usually has a student population of 2,300 – 2,400. For reference, IU’s current student population is 48,514. Now, let’s all agree that that is clearly a huge difference in size. My campus took five minutes to walk across, IU’s can take 30-40 depending on where you need to go. The real difference for me, however, was classroom size and how it affected my education.
Very rarely at my school did I have a class that housed more than 20 people. Many of them were much smaller, everyone around a single table discussing ideas, giving feedback and building conversations rather than being fed information. By contrast, I once sat in on a lecture hall class at a larger university I was visiting. It was the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had. Nearly 300 students crammed in one large room, watching a slideshow as the professor all the way down at the front read the book or slideshow verbatim into a microphone.
Please note I am not trying to bash any large universities or say that my education was better than anyone else’s. But there is a large difference in how I was taught that I still see today in organizational training methods across the country. When I mention “classroom training,” how many people reading this immediately shudder and think about the seven-hour meeting they had to endure listening to one person read a new training manual bullet point by bullet point? This kind of classroom training is the lecture hall class. Even if you take perfect notes, will you really retain all the information and apply it the next day, the next week, or the next year? Do you even care about the information being presented?
Real classroom training for business looks a little different. I’ve watched employees from various departments come together in one room and have rich discussions, competitive interactions and real fun as they learn. It’s experiential learning and discovery learning in a classroom that allows participants to not just absorb the information, but apply it. Activities and simulations get learners involved in the discussion and engaged in the information rather than just sitting back and being force fed buzz words.
If you want to see real results and takeaways from your classroom training, you need to be incorporating the right kind. While lectures are great for divulging information to a large amount of people, the classroom works best when everyone can participate and be actively engaged with the material.