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Classroom training is still the predominant method for formal corporate training. Seminars and workshops are still very popular especially for smaller companies that aren’t ready or able to do a lot of elearning or web collaboration. I’d say that classroom training definitely has it’s strengths and limitations. To be an effective learning leader, I always recommend clearly articulating when and how to use classroom training. I’m going to start out with a few ideas or principles and maybe others will fill in the rest.

1. Interaction with Peers
I’ve seen literally thousands of comments written about workshops and seminars. The number one things that participants say they value is the interaction and networking with peers. Almost no one lists this as a primary objective but maybe it should be number 1.
2. Content Delivery
Retention levels are so low with lectures and expert delivery of information that it’s almost not work doing. I would guess that if you took an SAT today you wouldn’t remember most of it.

3. Feedback
Many things require that you get direct feedback from an expert in order to learn how to do something. Starting this feedback in the classroom is effective if it carries to the job.
4. Demonstrations
Some things you just have to see up close in order to really appreciate all the complexities. This is especially true if learning requires more than sight and sound.

Okay, that’s four…it’s your turn.

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Uploaded on by Editor B

The real answer to this question is..it depends?  I’ve been in situations where the ideal size was five or six people because we were doing a lot of one-on-one instructions with a lot of practice.  Skill training that requires a lot of feedback is better in smaller classes.  I’ve also done other kinds of training where it really didn’t matter how many people were in the class. 300 or 400 would have been just fine because it was largely presentation.

In the corporate arena where you have a lot of flexibility in how you do training allows you to do what works best rather than having to work in a more stagnant situation like k-12.  Colleges are more flexible with large lecture halls, labs and small classrooms. 

So maybe the cry shouldn’t be for smaller classrooms but for more flexibility. 

I remember taking a college  history course in my junior year.  We started with a class of 7.  But the end of the semester there were only 2 left.  This was probably more a function of teacher quality than class size.

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Uploaded by twibs415

Lecture is a preferred teaching method in schools and universities.  It’s the mainstay of academia.  For those who are still awake, they might get something out of it.  Here’s an interesting article about retention rates and learning styles.  It shows that lecture has about a 5% retention rate and reading is almost double at 10%.  Teaching others and immediate use is at 90%.  Beyond Bells and Whistles.

In a corporate setting, you seeing a big move away from lecture to other forms delivery.  One method that I find very effective is to have students read the material prior to class and then have them team teach it back to the others in the class.  Taking content and having to restate it in your own language is a powerful learning technique. 

Finally, I want to point out that when you do seminars you always see the same comment as number 1 on what people liked.  They say what was most important was the networking and discussion with other students.  It’s never I really like the 50 overhead presentations.

I’m interested in other research studies on this topic.  Let me know if you have any good ones.

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So what’s a picture of Mike Tyson have to do with education anyway?

 Mike Tyson is a great philosopher.  He said, “Everyone’s got a plan…until they get hit!”

All the practice and role plays in a classroom setting try to prepare you for real life but it’s simply not the same.  The first time you try out your new customer service skills on an angry customer is just like being hit for the first time.  That’s when the real learning starts or people say, “that classroom stuff just doesn’t work, I’m going to try something else.”

Even as simulations get better, you don’t have the same level of pressure that comes with first hand experience.  What I recommend is that whatever you do in the classroom needs to extend to live practice.  This live practice also needs good coaching to help push through the potential loss of confidence with the first problem or crisis.

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