Some AEC professionals may have felt training options for them was limited in the past and may not realize the opportunities that exist today. I remember when I first started utilizing BIM in the Architecture workplace over 12 years ago it was up to me, a few people I knew, and phone support! Today there are TONS of resources out there and they vary greatly depending on price, your schedule, and more…so let’s dive into this topic!
The first thing I want to do is list the options so you are able to see right away which ones you knew about, and which ones are new to you. These include; resellers, documentation, on-line, school, and DIY. The best part is there is no right or wrong choice in the mix! If you are working to get implementation accomplished, there is no way to fail if you are keeping an open mind, doing your best, and listening to your staff for what works best.
The first option is resellers, but don’t think even that is only one solution. Almost every city, county, and state has at least one AEC reseller and they usually offer more than standard training. Many times they can provide custom training, or even one-on-one training for specific detailed support. On top of that they usually have more than one expert on the software and can always refer to them for more feedback and training. In the end this option could cost you, but it is also the best guarantee for quality training and include the most efficient use of you and ultimately your firm’s time.
The second option is documentation. There are many books on the subject and information on-line, but you do have the option of purchasing the same (or nearly the same) training manuals that the resellers and school systems have, for a fraction of the price. www.ascented.com offers a ton of solutions ranging from beginners to advanced for less than a hundred dollars! Plus they even offer student and instructor guides to allow for extra info on subjects and Q&A style workflows. One thing to point out here is they don’t include the instructor, so if you might not be a pro at the topic, this could cause problems if users have problems or stray from the courseware with questions and curiosity. Also, unlike the first option, this will take up a ton of time for yourself and it usually isn’t worth it unless your boss refuses to pay for outside training.
The third option is on-line. This option is a little involved in all the others as well, but I feel this deserves its own section simply because of how involved the internet has become with a topic such as this. The resellers are offering products that will allow your users to go online, and get tested to see where they need to improve on, schools are offering entire courses online, and now with products such as Skype and GoToMeeting, many firms are able to offer in-house web support for a fraction of the cost. The best part is this is not going away anytime soon, but going to get bigger and become the norm very soon. These are great methods for providing training and making the most of your firms support and workflow.
The fourth is school. This is also new to the industry as college campuses all over are beginning to offer courses on BIM, and other software specific to the AEC industry. These can be as little as a couple hundred dollars and include nights and weekend opportunities! They too often offer beginner and advanced courses, and just like the online stuff, this is only going to get more mainstream and bigger. Check with your local university or community college and see what they already have in place for next semester. This is also a good way for users out of work, to stay connected and keep the tools fresh in your head for when the next opportunity comes around. I highly recommend this!
The fifth and final options is DIY, or do-it-yourself training. Now let me get two VERY important things out of the way with this one. One; its insanely time consuming and you hopefully have others to help you as this can take months, if not years to complete. Two; if you do have the time and firm backing, it is the BEST option of them all! You can incorporate your firm structure, workflows, processes, standards, procedures, implementation, coordination, and just about everything you do can be put into the training. This will make the users happier because they are learning specific skills for your firm, and not sitting through boring classes of which very little applies. You can teach them methods only your firm knows, show them how to use your custom components, and your firm template right out of the gates! It is the rarest of them all, but it is one to consider if your firm has the size, or backbone to make it happen. From there, updates should happen every two to three years to keep it current and seamless.
With these options in place and available, the community itself has shown that learning and progressing is key to our own success, and we aren’t going to be ok with one or two options, we want them all! I hope you are able to take advantage of this article and please provide feedback if possible. I am very excited to hear what some of you are doing out there to solve your training needs!