Choosing the Best On-Demand Autodesk Training

How to Choose the Best On-Demand Training for Autodesk Software

During a recent industry group discussion, I was asked to provide insight regarding the best Learning Management System (LMS) for Autodesk software training. Like many things, best is a relative term. What works best for my firm may not work best for your firm, and vice versa.

When implementing an on-demand training solution, you have two basic choices. You can build something from scratch, or you can choose an off-the-shelf solution from an online training provider. A solution you build from scratch has the advantage of being a solution built specifically for you, whereas an off-the-shelf solution has the advantage of granting access to a robust course library economically, and with little effort.

Despite the advantages each method offers, both share one indisputable truth. Without a plan, both solutions will fail.

Cool Your Jets

As someone who has provided training on Autodesk software for nearly fifteen years, training is something that excites me. Like many, I often fall into the same trap I see so many others fall into. That trap being you get so excited about the training you’re going to offer, all the great things you know its capable of delivering to your team, that you skip over the first and most critical step.

That step is none other than pausing for a moment to create a plan.

You’ve probably heard about the “7 P’s” before. For the indoctrinated, the 7 P’s are typically defined as; Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

There are several other variations of the 7 P’s, but they all boil down to one reality. Without taking a moment to plan and prepare, failure is far more likely than success.

Identify a Training Champion

Just as important as creating a plan is having someone there to oversee it. If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance that person is you. Regardless if the champion is you or someone else, the important thing is to identify who will be the training program manager.

Whomever your organization selects will be instrumental in crafting the overall training plan based on objectives identified up front. Once the training plan is implemented, the Training Champion/Training Program Manager will be the one who not only promotes the training program, but also the one who makes sure the content of your training program remains in alignment with the training objectives of your organization.

Crafting an On-Demand Training Plan

Training is not a field of dreams. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll (your learners) come. That’s the reason creating a plan is so imperative. Before building your own LMS or purchasing an off-the-shelf course library, you need to ask yourself several questions.

Recognizing every organization is unique, the only wrong way to answer these questions is to not answer them at all. Likewise, there’s a strong possibility answering the foundational questions about training will reveal several transient questions about training.

What do you expect to achieve from training your employees?

Training can accomplish all sorts of things, but all the things training could deliver your team doesn’t matter. You need to define what you what it to provide to your team. Is training about driving profitability for your organization; is it about developing entirely new skills; is it about bridging gaps in existing competencies; is it something else entirely?

Again, there’s no wrong answer here, but if your objective is to bridge knowledge gaps for AutoCAD, and the on-demand catalog you’re looking primarily focuses on how to begin using AutoCAD; that catalog probably isn’t the one for you.

Why are you looking to offer training at your company?

This overlaps a bit with the previous question, but what is the compelling event that has you looking at training in the first place. Did your company lose a job because of skill gap it has recently, and a principal is asking you to fill those gaps? Are employees growing frustrated because they don’t know the best way to use the software? Is the lack of training causing employee retention issues?

The list of reasons companies offer training to their employees is endless, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is neglecting to align your training program with those reasons. Failing to do so will result in tension between your training program and the goals of your company.

A Reality Check on Autodesk Software Training

Speak to almost any in-person or on-demand Autodesk training provider, and you’ll likely hear a remarkably similar story. The provider will likely talk about how the training they offer is better than the training another provider offers. In my opinion, better is a relative term here and is among the key reasons you need to know why you’re training and what you hope to achieve BEFORE talking to a training provider.

The inconvenient truth of Autodesk software training is that what most providers call Fundamentals, Essentials, or Complete Guide is all pretty much the same from a content perspective. There’s a good reason for this. First is Autodesk’s Autodesk Authorized Training Center/Provider program, and the second is Autodesk’s Certification program. Fundamentally, both are standardization constructs that reputable training providers craft their Autodesk software training classes around.

This standardization is a good thing, as it insures if you leverage a reputable provider of Autodesk software training, you’re going to receive a well-crafted class that’s going to cover the topics proficient users of that software need to know. The other side of that is because Autodesk has defined what makes an AutoCAD training class through things like Autodesk Certification Objectives, an AutoCAD class from two training providers will be more alike than they are different.

Choosing an Autodesk Software Training Provider

If the training content offered from reputable Autodesk training providers is more-or-less the same, how do you pick the provider that’s best for your organization? In a sentence, you find the provider whose product best aligns with your training objectives.

While the basic topics covered by courses from providers like LinkedIn Learning, CADLearning, Pinnacle, and Global eTraining are all very similar, what varies is how each delivers its content to learners. Which of these is best is not a matter of opinion, but your organization's training objectives. Since the objectives my company defines for training varies from the objectives your company defines, we are likely to consider different providers as best.

Again, this is why I can’t emphasize the importance of knowing why you’re training and what you expect to achieve with training before starting a conversation with any training provider. Doing just a little bit of upfront planning will go a long way not only in making your conversations with training providers more effective, but it will also help you better quantify which one is best for you.

Building Your Own Solution

While there are many advantages of choosing an off-the-shelf training solution, there are times where building your own solution might be more advantageous. The primary benefit of building your own solution is the final product will align specifically to your organization’s training needs. While custom solutions have the advantage of best aligning with an organization’s needs, the other side is they require the most work to build and implement.

Despite requiring the most work to build and implement, building your own LMS could be the best choice for firms looking to provide training that’s highly contextualized to their organization. Such a need stands in contrast to organizations whose primary training need is for fundamentals/essentials-level training. The bottom line is a training company is often able to provide baseline training more economically than your firm can reinvent the wheel. By contrast, it would be exceedingly difficult for a training company to acquire the institutional knowledge of your company to create and produce content that’s highly contextualized to your organization.

In Summary…

The function of training means different things to different people. Chances are that your vision for training in your organization contrasts with the vision others in your organization have for training. I believe this contrast in opinions is valuable during the planning phase but is detrimental any later than that.

Use the planning process to evaluate contrasting ideas for training in your organization and build your training objectives around what you collaboratively find are the best ideas. With stakeholders on the same page, you can be sure everyone is evaluating each LMS you consider based on the same basic metrics, not each person’s own agenda. This alignment is what will pave the way for a successful implementation later down the road.

Autodesk University 2018 Community Voting Now Open Autodesk University Class Voting

Autodesk University 2018 Community Voting Now Open

As a user of Autodesk software, no conference is more comprehensive than Autodesk University. Attending since 2007, one of my favorite things about the conference is how dynamic it is. Sure, there will be opening and closing keynotes, an exhibit hall, among other things. But most importantly, there will be classes – and lots of them!

As implied by the name, learning is at the center of Autodesk University, and the 2018 conference will be no different. In fact, Autodesk’s annual call for proposals received 2,155 submissions from nearly 1,200 experts in 49 countries from across the world. As impressive as those numbers are, Autodesk now has the daunting task of choosing just 600-700 classes from the massive list of submittals.

Autodesk University 2018 Community Voting Now Open Autodesk University 2017 Entrance e1528948339435

Being a user conference, the first step to Autodesk’s class selection process focuses on the user community. That’s where you come in. From now until July 13, 2018, you can tell Autodesk what sessions you would like to see in November by voting on them today.

To cast your vote, visit the Community Voting page. Once there, you can browse through the 2,155 class proposals. Best of all, the voting site includes many filters, not-to-mention search functionality, to help you hone in on the classes you most care about.

Somewhere in that sea of proposals, you’ll find the six proposals I submitted.

If interested, the proposals I submitted were:

A Match Made in Coordinates: Bringing Revit, Civil 3D, & InfraWorks Together at Last

Co-presenting with Purvi Irwin

Many building site projects live in two worlds; everything inside the building, and everything outside the building. The two worlds only come together after an excessive amount of swearing, and hours of unnecessary time spent. But does it have to be that way? Absolutely not! Coordinating Revit and Civil 3D doesn't have to require a degree in nuclear physics, and this session will show you how. Co-presented by a Revit and a Civil 3D specialist, you will gain an understanding of the expectations for each platform and how to configure it. With coordinated model locations in place, we will define effective practices for exchanging data between Revit software and Civil 3D software. Leveraging the full potential of each coordinated design model, you will learn how to assemble your project in the context of its surroundings using InfraWorks software, and generate a virtual reality scene.

Learning Objectives:

  • Establish shared coordinates between Revit and Civil 3D.
  • Incorporate Revit model data in AutoCAD Civil 3D and Civil 3D model data in Revit.
  • Assemble design model data into an immersive InfraWorks model.
  • Generate virtual reality scenes of your complete project model.

AutoCAD Tips Duel in the Desert: TheMadCadr vs The CAD Geek

Co-Presenting with Frank Mayfield

The desert sun blasts down on the two gunslingers. A tumbleweed rolls by. Somewhere in the distance, a hawk screams. No one knows why a hawk is inside the building, but it's Vegas so no one bats an eye. The two men square off in the crisp climate-controlled air of The Venetian. Fingers poised over their mouse and keyboard, ready to let loose with a salvo of clicks and command line inputs to see who has the hottest AutoCAD tip in town. With so many drawing variables at play, it's impossible to say who will share the most commanding tip. The only guarantee is TheMadCadr and The CAD Geek will present their sharpest shooting productivity tips, tricks, and techniques for this winner-take-all duel in the desert! Though there will be but one loser in this duel, there will be many winners who discover new ways to remove tedium and boost productivity on their projects. Cowboy boots, large belt buckles, and ten-gallon hats are optional, but encouraged to pick up what these two are putting down.

Learning Objectives

  • Increase productivity with recently added features.
  • Learn how to make use of underutilized features.
  • Push AutoCAD to new extremes with tips veterans and gurus know.
  • Have fun!

AutoCAD Tips, Tricks, and Delightful Drafting Techniques

If you want to master AutoCAD, join Autodesk Expert Elite member Donnie The CAD Geek, Gladfelter as he shares a plethora of power-user tips acquired from writing six books on AutoCAD and blogging for more than a decade. Donnie will take you through a powerful collection of proven productivity techniques that are certain to improve your everyday drawing life. From simple to advanced, you are sure to discover new ways to remove tedium and boost your ability to meet project deadlines.

Learning Objectives

  • Complete common AutoCAD tasks in fewer steps.
  • Harness recently added features to improve productivity.
  • Leverage AutoCAD across platforms (desktop, web, & mobile) to improve collaboration.
  • Use secret tips AutoCAD software veterans and gurus know.

Overcoming The Seven Deadly Sins of Corporate Training Programs

Co-presenting with Jason Kunkel

Are you a glutton for good training? Do you lust over other company's effective education technology? Bad training programs can leave your employees full of wrath, so don't be slothful ?come check out this session that will outline the issues many companies see when building up or overhauling their own training programs. Your competitors will be green with envy when you pridefully show off your skilled employees - just don't get greedy. This session will focus on overcoming the seven deadly sins of training and put your program on a righteous path. We'll explore the process of defining education mission statements, align curriculum with student learning styles, and methods to reinforce learning. You will benefit from the unique experience and knowledge shared by two instructors who have built successful training programs in firms of more than 350 people, designed Autodesk Official Press curriculum, and who continue to build training programs for firms across the nation today.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the internal and external factors affecting professional development.
  • Overcome common mistakes that limit the success of corporate training programs.
  • Establish a training mission statement, and methods for program reinforcement.
  • Build a training roadmap based on a proven framework.

Reinforced Learning: Secrets to Making Effective On-Demand Training Videos

No matter how great the curriculum or instructor, without reinforcement teams will forget up to 90% of what they learn in just a month. Video offers an efficient way to close this gap, but where do you even start to record a video, much less a video your users will watch? In this session, you will learn the secrets used to produce AutoCAD training videos seen more than 1,000,000 times on YouTube, plus strategies for applying that experience to corporate training programs. Beyond understanding how to pick the right microphone, recording software, and other technical elements, details such as video structure, format, and distribution are equally important for success. This session will connect the dots between each of these with experience-based recording, production, and distribution strategies you can take back to your office.

Learning Objectives

  • Plan and structure video content based on data-driven insights.
  • Build a recording studio with the proper hardware and software.
  • Edit and produce video with simple effects, branding, and more.
  • Implement strategies to distribute final videos to your company.

The Seven Deadly Sins of CAD and BIM Management

Co-presenting with Jason Kunkel

Are you a glutton for the perfect CAD/BIM standard? Do you lust over other CAD/BIM managers who have the authority to get things done? Do project teams become greedy of their own standards, wrathfully rejecting the standardized and more efficient ways you pridefully implement? You need not become slothful, as this class will focus on ways to put you into the enviable position of having users who listen to you. Combining over two decades of CAD, BIM, and IT support and management experience plus years of working with numerous companies to help support their technical managers and staff, this session talks about the things nobody likes to talk about - the sins CAD and BIM managers commit while doing their jobs. What sins might you be guilty of, and what's the path to righteous? Join this session to learn some of the common pitfalls, missteps, and misconceptions that come with the job and the how and why to avoid them.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn some of the common missteps that CAD/BIM Managers often take
  • Understand the importance of looking at the CAD/BIM Manager job from multiple points of view
  • Discover strategies to avoid falling into tradition traps
  • Find out how not to be that, support guy

Summary

Attending Autodesk University and meeting people like you is always a highlight of my year. If you can attend - I highly recomend you do. Of course, before we can get to any of that, we have to figure out what classes will be offered when visiting Vegas this November. Be sure to do your part and vote for the classes you would like to see before viting closes on July 13, 2018.

Finally, did you find an awesome proposal you hope others vote on? Sound off in the comments below with the favorite proposals you come accross this year.

Top Rated Autodesk University Sessions

The Top-Rated Sessions of Autodesk University 2017

Each November industry professionals from across the globe gather in Las Vegas, NV for a week of learning at an event known as Autodesk University. Over the years, a lot about the conference has changed, but one thing that hasn't is the high caliber of classes offered during the event. Held November 14-16, Autodesk University offered over 700 classes to the approximately 10,000 individuals in attendance.

Marking my eleventh consecutive year as a speaker, this year I had the privilege of presenting two classes during this year's conference.  The first of those sessions was a session my colleague Purvi Irwin, and I gave titled "A Match Made in Coordinates: Bringing Revit, AutoCAD Civil 3D, and InfraWorks Together at Last." During that session, Purvi and I focused on establishing shared coordinates between AutoCAD Civil 3D and Revit. 

The Top-Rated Sessions of Autodesk University 2017 Purvi Irwin Donnie Gladfelter
Co speakers Purvi Irwin and Donnie Gladfelter at Autodesk University 2017

In addition to my "A Match Made in Coordinates" session, I presented a second session titled "Overcoming the 7 Deadly Sins of Corporate Training Programs" with my colleague Jason Kunkel.  The session itself pulled from our collective experience as both CAD/BIM managers and consultants at CADD Microsystems to outline the training mistakes we've not only witnessed but also made ourselves. More than a hundred people attended the session in person and much more attended online as our session was live streamed to the world.

The Top-Rated Sessions of Autodesk University 2017 jason kunkel donnie gladfelter
Co-Speakers Jason Kunkel and Donnie Gladfelter on stage at Autodesk University

Jason and I had a blast sharing our experiences with the audience along with many experiential-based strategies to build an excellent training program at your firm. The feedback and conversations we had after class were outstanding, and today validated as the top-rated sessions from Autodesk University 2017 were announced.

Among the top-rated industry talks were our "Overcoming the Seven Deadly Sins of Corporate Training Programs" class. You can see the full list of top-rated sessions on the Autodesk University Blog, and watch a full recording of our class on-demand from the Autodesk University website.

The Top-Rated Sessions of Autodesk University 2017 autodesk university stage
Speakers view of the "Overcoming The Seven Deadly Sins of Corporate Training Programs" classroom

Training Program Reinforcement Part 2

image In my last post I spoke about the power of reinforcement in the world of education. My point to making the connection between academia and corporate learning is that reinforcement is no less important in academia than it is in a corporate learning environment. But without report cards, parent-teacher conferences, and other staples of academia, how does one reinforce corporate training?

It’s as simple as this. Corporate training shouldn’t end when your employees leave the classroom. In all likelihood your employees will come back from training excited about all the cool things they were shown in training, but how much of it did they actually retain? Fact of the matter is this, you have no clue what your employees did or did not retain.

A comprehensive training program will follow-up on the classroom learning offered to your employees. You can choose the best way to quantify what your employees truly learned in training. You may choose to create an assessment customized to your company, and the way it does things. On the other hand, you may choose to have your employees take one of the Certification Exams offered by Autodesk. The method isn’t the important part here; it’s the reinforcement you’ll be able to provide as a result of your employees taking an assessment.

Training Program Reinforcement Part 1

image It’s hard to believe, but 3 weeks ago I started my employment with Ronald A. Williams. Last week was quite exciting as I got to meet a number of our customers for the first time at a CTE conference. For those outside the education world, CTE stands for Career & Technical Education, and is perhaps better known as vo-tech. I must say, getting to chat with the teachers who are in the classrooms training the next generation of CAD professionals was quite interesting. Frankly, the inner-geek in me just couldn’t help but start comparing the world of education to industry.

One topic I found especially intriguing was the profoundly different ways education and industry measure success of their students/employees. Companies pour thousands and thousands of dollars into training their staff, but how is success primarily measured? Typically success in industry is measured by the dollar; Return on Investment. If I invest x-dollars in training, how much will new efficiency gains make me back over time?

Great offers for the Unemployed

Regardless of how you get your news, the reports over the last week have been especially depressing. 651,000 jobs were shed in February alone, or 15 jobs per minute, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.1%; the highest since 1983.

Sadly neither my company, nor my family has been immune. My dad was let go from his job of more than 25 years in October and is still seeking full-time employment. You could say he is among yet another statistic. Those forced to part-time employment, a number that currently sits at 14.8%.

Please contact me If you know of anyone hiring in printing (bindery & mailing), sales, or something similar in the Richmond, VA area. My dad would be eternally grateful.

image-thumb.pngNot that there's much of a silver lining to be found in these statistics, but starting this week I know of at least two companies doing what they can to help the unemployed. Many have likely already heard about FedEX Office (formerly FedEX Kinko's) offering to print up to 25 copies of your resume for free.

From the FedEx Press Release

The company invites customers to take advantage of this one-day event by visiting any of its 1,600+ FedEx Office Print and Ship Centers in the United States during regular business hours. This offer is good for 25 black-and-white resume copies per customer and is only valid for orders placed and picked up in-store. Customers may place orders by submitting their resume in printed format or as a digital file, and the copies will be printed single-sided on resume-quality paper.

Read the full FedEx Office Press Release

image-thumb.pngAnother admirable benefit to the unemployed comes in the form of FREE training from Engineered Efficiency. I've always had a great deal of respect for the guys over at EE. While (like any business) they are in the business to make money, they are also in the business of doing the right thing. My firm just recently signed up for their training program, and I can say firsthand, the material there is top-notch.

From the Engineered Efficiency Training Outreach page

Training is provided on a first-come-first-served basis and consists of live, instructor-led, hands-on training. Users can choose from any of the eight classes currently offered by Engineered Efficiency, Inc. Over the past year, we have offered our revolutionary training program on a subscription basis to organizations implementing AutoCAD Civil 3D, training thousands of users across the country. With this outreach program, this proven system is now accessible to those who are looking to improve their skills and increase their re-employment opportunities.

You can get full details on the Engineered Efficiency Free Training offer here

Engineered Efficiency offers Unlimited Live Training

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While I personally thought Autodesk would announce next (not this) release would be the final release of Land Desktop, the announcement itself really comes as no surprise. Since the Technology Preview release of 2004, Civil 3D has evolved from a really cool new technology to a technology now able to sustain real-world design. For firms still using Land Desktop, switching to Civil 3D has less to do with the technical abilities of the software, and more to do with the cultural paradigm and the raw cost.

Civil 3D is not an incremental upgrade to Land Desktop; it’s a replacement for Land Desktop. For that reason many firms still have weighed Civil 3D vs LDT, and simply decided to stay on LDT subscribing to the notion “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”. More often than not that argument is code for, we’re not willing to commit to the hours upon hours of training our staff will need to be productive on Civil 3D. While Civil 3D certainly has the potential to save lots of time [money] in the long run, it’s difficult to convince management to forgo the necessary cost of training.

Secret to Training Engineers

Good employees are hard to find, and even harder to keep. While this virtue is undeniably true in just about any industry, I find it to be especially true within the engineering industry. Many have heard the timeless question; is the glass half full or half empty? Optimists will respond stating the glass is half full, pessimists half empty. Engineers on the other hand will simply conclude the glass to be twice the size it needs to be. While I mention the parody in jest, its truthfulness can unveil some key insights as to the way engineers learn.

Arguably the most fundamental trait of an engineer is their innate ability to solve problems. Simple or complex, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is a conclusive yes or no answer can be found. This passion for discovering the answers to problems big and small consequently feeds into what could be described as an endless appetite for information. Much like a chef can take seemingly unrelated ingredients and make a celebrated dish, engineers have the ability to take seemingly unrelated pieces of information and assemble it together into a larger concept or idea.

Sometimes the process of assembling fragments of information into a single concept can take seconds, other times it can take days or months. Engineers have the tendency of building a relevancy engine our non-engineer friends are likely to find annoying. So why are we able to remember things our non-engineer friends cannot? In essence it boils down to the way we as engineers commit things to memory.

AU 2007 - The Training Trinity

imageMine included, it seems that many of the AU Unplugged sessions had a lighter turn out than expected.  Even with the limited attendance, I must say my session provided a great platform for some discussion I am certainly bringing home with me.  The concept of a Training Trinity is one I have not seen much (if anything published on).

About a month ago I made a post centered on "Starting a CAD Standard".  I'll paraphrase for those of you who may not have read that post.  My "Starting a CAD Standard" post focused on the idea that the most important element to a CAD Standard is not the awesome DWT you have set up, it's not the documentation (directly), not even the automated routine you may have programmed.  Instead what makes of breaks a CAD Standard is the unspoken (and undocumented element).  When starting a CAD Standard one must have a clear and concise goal, a mission statement even. 

Different elements of your CAD Standard shouldn't be established as islands.  I can assure constructing bridges between your islands is not an option.  Instead each element of your CAD Standard must compliment the other elements of your CAD Standard.  While I have always aired on the side of defining procedures outside of the CAD Standard, your standard will certainly imply numerous procedures.  For instance if your file management standard is set up to have model files and sheet files, you are implying a workflow in which sheets are generated by xrefing model drawings. 

So what does all of this have to do with training?