How Do YOU Learn?
As some of you might already know, I am an online author and [in]structor for LinkedIn Learning, previously known as Lynda.com. I provide online titles around AutoCAD®, some Revit®, and a bit of Certification preparation. When I create this content, I always think about HOW someone might learn from it and become better at what they do and be empowered in their current role.
Learning starts as soon as we are born. We learn to talk, we learn to walk, we learn to drive our parents crazy by putting jam and toast in the VCR (as my kids did… they’re 21 and 17 now!). But there is no doubt that we all learn, often in different ways and in different locations. LinkedIn Learning is simply one of those locations, whether it be real-world or virtual. Another learning location for me is my office studio at home, where I am still learning the vagaries of becoming a semi-decent guitarist!
I am pretty sure all of you reading this have done at least one classroom, instructor-led training (ILT) course in your lifetime. You cannot get away from it. People learn from people, it really is that simple. I STILL teach the three-day AutoCAD Essentials course and I still get a kick from teaching face-to-face. All Autodesk instruction is normally done via an Autodesk Authorized Training Centre (ATC) and the world-class instructors in those ATCs need to be Autodesk Certified Instructors (ACIs). An ACI must go through certain training hoops too, to maintain ACI accreditation.
Also, when learning via the classroom, you are exposed to the expertise of your instructor. Not all of us are cut out to be great instructors. There is a certain breed—not technical, not academic, but who have the demeanour to express the content in a meaningful way so it is absorbed by the trainees. This often comes down to personality. When you find a good instructor, you will learn all you need to learn!
You can find ATCs all over the world on the Autodesk website, using the following link:
Change the search criteria to Training Center, and you will find what you need.
Figure 1: The Autodesk Partner Locator, highlighting Training Center as the search criteria
Learning in a peer-to-peer environment is still one of the best ways to learn. In all CAD offices worldwide, there is a huge wealth of CAD knowledge. You have the seasoned, experienced CAD superusers, all the way down to the newbies, who have just signed up for a life of CAD, right? Just sitting in the office with your colleagues is an excellent way to learn. Here’s a tip, though. When you do sit down with one of your seasoned AutoCAD superusers, take a notepad. Write down what you learn and any further actions you may need to take to further that learning.
I have numerous CAD journals on a bookshelf in my office that have taken me through many years of learning AutoCAD. I now use them to create classroom training.
Peer-to-peer learning is sometimes referred to as “on the job” training, and that’s exactly what it is. You are learning as you work. Most of what I know has been developed over my 31 years of using AutoCAD (yep, you read that right, 31 years) and a lot of that was acquired by creating drawings on many projects over the years and being a CAD manager during that period as well. It doesn’t matter what level you are. You will always learn new things from others. People learn from people. Always.
Figure 2: The ultimate cheesy peer-to-peer graphic
The Internet is a wonderful thing. You can Google “AutoCAD keyboard shortcuts.” You can search for an Autodesk ATC. You can now even subscribe to AutoCAD online. Subscriptions are becoming the norm, albeit a contentious issue to some. Internet subscription is also making learning easier, too. I mentioned earlier that I create AutoCAD online learning content for LinkedIn Learning. You can subscribe to LinkedIn Learning and learn all you need to learn about AutoCAD in bite-sized pieces, video by video.
The Internet is an incredible learning medium. You have it all at your fingertips, 24/7, and you can log in and learn at any time. There are many online providers to learn from nowadays too, and they all provide a subscription medium: CADLearning, Global eTraining, and many others. You basically pay your money and take your choice. We all have differing needs and requirements. If you are looking for a corporate subscription-based solution, my recommendation is to search the marketplace and find the one that suits you and your organisation.
Figure 3: The LinkedIn Learning website banner
I am still a big fan of the traditional classroom. Being in a room with an instructor who knows the subject matter is (for me) the best way to learn. However, the increasing bandwidth available on the Internet is allowing classrooms to be virtual. I’m pretty sure we have all attended a conference call or meeting via GoToMeeting. Well, those GoToMeeting people also offer GoToTraining, which has class registration, the ability to record the training class, and many other valuable features such as delegate interaction and easy classroom document sharing. You can find it here:
Just type the above into your browser and you’ll find it.
Figure 4: Some typical screenshots from GoToTraining (Credit: www.gotomeeting.com)
There are many other similar online classroom packages out there, not just GoToTraining. Again, like with online learning subscription, you find the package that suits your needs and gives you the best method of online classroom delivery.
Conferences and Events
I’m a veteran Autodesk University (AU) speaker. I have been speaking at AU in Las Vegas in the USA since 2006 and I have spoken at the last two AU London events as well. AU is the primary Autodesk learning event in the world. When you sign up to attend, you get a week of full-on learning from 8:00 am through 5:30 pm, plus all the networking and social events you can handle. On top of that you get keynote addresses from all the high-level corporate staff at Autodesk, including Andrew Anagnost, Autodesk’s President and CEO. There are AUs all over the world in key cities, so you should be able to find one that suits your location. Check out http://au.autodesk.com.
Figure 5: The Autodesk University 2018 banner for AU Las Vegas 2018
Another great event is USA-based Midwest University. Hosted by CTC Design Software Solutions, an Autodesk Platinum Partner, Midwest University follows a format similar to Autodesk University, with keynotes and classes to attend. These classes are taught by world-class instructors from all over the world, to empower the delegates and give them deeper knowledge and understanding of the Autodesk products they use in their day-to-day roles.
Figure 6: The Midwest University 2019 banner for its March 2019 event
Events such as these are incredible environments for learning and networking with your peers. You learn NEW stuff, not your regular classroom syllabus stuff, and get to meet with other like-minded users. The world-class instructors know their subject matter intimately and can deliver incredible classes that give a deeper dive into Autodesk products, empowering you with even more knowledge (and contacts) to take back to the office!
Books can take many forms nowadays. I’m a bit of a traditionalist and still love to train from a good old-fashioned book made of paper, but there are many book mediums you can use. In an AutoCAD classroom, I often use an app called Bookshelf by VitalSource. This is the preferred medium for eBooks by ASCENT, which provides a lot of Autodesk training courseware. Bookshelf is a great tool that can be viewed on your computer as an app, via a browser, or even on your tablet or phone. There are numerous eBook readers out there, such as iBooks (Apple) and Kindle (Amazon) for the novel readers amongst you, but I still like a training manual made of paper where I can write notes in the margin. Saying that though, Bookshelf even has that function as well as a highlighter function with different highlighter colors, so you can save the rain forests that way, too!
Figure 7: A screenshot of the PC-based Bookshelf app
Overall, as I have listed, there are numerous mediums and methods to learning and education around Autodesk products: classroom, peer-to-peer, online (subscription), online (classroom), conferences and events, and books (both hardcopy and electronic). All these methods provide YOU (the learning interface with your brain) with the information and knowledge to take you further and build on what you already know. As I mentioned at the beginning, we are programmed from birth to learn, and the interface to that knowledge is you.
I will be teaching more about this in a class at Autodesk University 2018 in Las Vegas, called “How Do YOU Learn?” If you get the chance to attend my class, you will see this slide (Figure 8), which describes what you have just read in a simple infographic.
Figure 8: How Do YOU Learn?
Everything we do in our daily lives has been learned over time. Muscle memory when driving a car or playing a G major chord on a guitar. Remembering to look both ways when crossing the road. Some of these pieces of knowledge save our lives every day and some simply enhance them, but what I do know is that learning something new is ALWAYS worthwhile.