The most important element prior to any preparation for the active learning should be the analysis and the clear understanding of your learners’ profile.
It will provide you (the facilitator) with vital and important information about learners’ background and knowledge as well as it will also enable you to make any required adjustments to your training program to suit your learners’ needs.
The arrangement of your training venue i.e. the set up of furniture and equipment also plays a very important role in the learning activity as it will create a conducive learning environment for learners to concentrate and actively participate to it.
Depending on the number of learners and the room layout, different types of seating arrangements could be applied on different learning activities, which will enable you (the facilitator) to achieve optimum results.
There are several seating arrangements to apply for the seminar/workshop, namely:
For large groups:
Theatre style, Classroom style, Herringbone style just to name a few.
For smaller groups:
Boardroom style, Perpendicular style, U-shape style, Semi-circle style.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
In most cases, I personally prefer to conduct my seminars and workshops by organizing the seating arrangements according to two distinct set ups, namely:
Above-mentioned two setting arrangements will always allow me sufficient space to move around and to get nearer to my participants for closer and optimum interaction as well as for their clearer observation.
For seminars/workshops with an average number of 15-17 participants, I tend to apply the U-shape setting style, as I have founded it to be very conducive for my participants.
(picture taken during one of my past seminars held in Dubai – Traders Hotel with 17 participants).
For seminars/workshops with more than 17 participants, I would apply the cluster setting arrangement as I have found it to be the appropriate way to conduct my training activity.
(picture taken during one of my past seminars held in Dubai – Traders Hotel with 25 participants).
Other activities which are required prior to facilitating a learning experience would include preparation of the variety of equipment and training resources required.
(i.e: Projector, laptop, wireless presenter, audio system etc) which can be arranged in advance and be provided by the hotel or by the training organization.
Alternatively, the facilitator could use his own laptop, but he must ensure proper compatibility with provided existing equipment.
Flip board is also an important tool, which will enable the facilitator to emphasise certain points and keep them pasted on walls for future reference, or will provide learners an extra tool to work with especially in case they are divided into groups and certain activities may require participants’ contribution.
Quality and correct types of furniture & chairs remains an important element during the facilitation. Availability of electrical gadgets (i.e. power point extensions etc) will alleviate learners’ concerns and it will create a further conducive and hassle free learning environment.
What are your preferred sitting arrangements for your seminars/workshops?