Online CAD Training Insights
Just like any other profession, the training industry has seen lots of changes in recent years. Lots of new platforms and trainers have flocked to this lucrative and saturated marketplace, which has resulted in stiff competition. The competition is good for the industry as it forced trainers and training platforms to deliver the expectations of the trainee and focused on the quality of training rather than just delivering the obvious content to the audience repeatedly.
I train corporate clients as well as university students with different training methodologies such as onsite training, online instructor-led training using Cisco WebEx and, more recently, my video course platform, SourceCAD.
I have learned a lot during from these training sessions. In this article, I will share some of these experiences along with some tips for succeeding in the CAD training industry, especially if you are delivering the training online.
Not All Audiences Are Alike
Every audience is unique and the course content you prepare for one audience might not be suitable for another. Although there are enormous differences between a university student and a corporate team, there is also a lot of variation within corporate teams or different student groups at the same university.
Before every training you need to prepare the right set of tools and content for your audience, and it should be made specifically for that audience type. Don’t make generic content and impose it on all audience types. While developing your course content, keep in mind factors such as audience size, their specific needs, the trainees’ level of expertise, their willingness to participate in the training, the projects they are currently working on, and how this training can help them in completing their projects. These factors will determine the overall content of your training.
If your audience is a team of new interns or recruits just beginning to learn the software, then you will want to keep things simple and focus more on practicing the tools than on teaching more tools of the software. On the other hand, if your audience contains CAD software pros and they have opted for the training of a specific module of the software, then you will want to remove the obvious stuff from the training and focus more on the tools they require for their projects.
Focusing more on tools required for projects will give the audience a sense of fulfillment from the training and will keep them interested in the training sessions. In addition, by focusing more on the tools they might use in their projects you will be able to avoid clutter in your training content and keep things simple.
Delivering Online Training
Online training is different from onsite training where the instructor is physically present in the training room and interaction is frequent between trainer and trainee. There are two main types of online training methodologies: live, instructor-led training and pre-recorded training sessions.
Live, instructor-led training sessions are presented via online meeting software such as Cisco WebEx or GoToMeeting.
One of the best advantages of this training mode is the reduced cost and hassle. The trainer does not need to travel to the location of the meeting, thereby saving travel and accommodation costs.
Another mode of online training that is becoming increasingly popular is the pre-recorded video lecture. This mode offers lots of flexibility for student as well as instructor.
With pre-recorded courses, the instructor is not required to remain available during the training period and students also have the flexibility to choose the time they will take the training, which eliminates any time constraint issues.
All of this sounds good, but before you begin teaching online you need to equip yourself with some hardware and software that are not directly related to your CAD software.
A standard headphone with microphone is sufficient for most of the online instructor-led training sessions and you will also need a subscription to the webinar or meeting software. There are plenty of webinar software packages available and your choice of software should depend on your audience size and frequency of training sessions.
Almost all the software will offer basic tools such as screen capture, chat support, and video calling features, which will suffice for these training sessions.
If you are planning to create video lessons, then you may need to buy recording equipment and set up your recording room for professional-quality video lessons. The most preferred microphone choices are Blue Yeti or Rhode Podcaster, which are high-quality USB cardioid microphones great for vocal recordings.
You can use screen capturing software such as Camtasia Studio for recording your lectures and vocals. This software is very easy to use and has a clean interface, so even beginners can get up to speed quickly. The software allows you to record, edit, and produce your lecture videos in simple video formats such as MP4 or FLV.
Tip: Cover the walls of your recording room with curtains or sound dampers to make it more recording friendly.
Setting up the equipment and software for your training is only half the work—of equal importance is the content of your training. Following are some of the guidelines for recording your training lectures.
The attention span of a student is short, so restrict your video lectures to five minutes. Also, make shorter courses focused on specific software topics. For example, I have made separate AutoCAD® courses on topics such as Sheet Sets, Dynamic Blocks, and Printing & Plotting. These courses are more likely to attract the attention of students who only want to learn a specific topic.
Student feedback is crucial for your success in online training. You should always ask for reviews and feedback from your students and then use that feedback to improve your upcoming courses and training sessions. In my experience I have found that negative reviews always have something to teach you and they help greatly in improving your courses. You will find the most honest reviews coming from people who rate your course as “average.”
Another recommendation is to offer a few of your paid videos for free on YouTube and other platforms to attract potential subscribers and students. This will also help you in promoting your brand and will ensure your online presence for a long time.
Jaiprakash Pandey is a Mechanical Engineer currently working as a CAD Corporate trainer. He is an AutoCAD Certified Professional and an Autodesk Expert Elite member. He provides training in AutoCAD, CATIA, and other CAD products to corporate clients. He is a regular contributor to AUGIWorld magazine and develops AutoCAD video courses for Pluralsight and his own platform, SourceCAD. You can reach him on his blog: www.thesourcecad.com