Thursday, January 18, 2007

Autodesk University 2006 - Class Survey Results

I’ve held off writing anything about my AU 2006 experiences because I’ve been busy but also because I’ve been waiting for the class survey data to be compiled and distributed. I’m writing regarding the classes I presented.

As I wrote earlier, I presented two classes on the family editor, a lecture format and a lab format. AU management made arrangements to repeat the lab when the first filled up so quickly. This brought me to a total of three presentations. Overall my scores were very good. For those of you who attended my sessions and were pleased I am grateful and glad that they worked for you!

It would be easy to stop this article right here with the “thank you very much” but that is only one side of the story. I’m going dwell on the negative side of the story and I hope you fail to hear any excuses because I don’t want to utter a single one.

The survey results include the comments that are supplied on the bottom of each survey form. These comments vary from both ends of the spectrum, from completely negative to completely happy. I can honestly relate to each comment because as honest as each comment is they couldn’t compare to how brutally I picked apart my performance, you can ask my wife.

Naturally I’d like to focus on the positive remarks and feel good. Nevertheless, sometimes the truth hurts and every negative comment held truth that needs to be considered. As proof that I can trust “my gut” the lab I presented first felt wrong to me and sure enough the survey results were not as high as the second lab, which I retooled overnight before presenting the next morning. My apologies to the first lab! The second lab felt better but I was still dissatisfied. You can only fix so much overnight.

On the other hand the lecture felt good to me during and after but with such a large audience I knew there was no way I could really satisfy everyone. Sure enough there were some disappointed remarks.

In some cases the truth was probably simply a matter of wrong class, wrong student, mismatched agenda’s. In other cases it is a matter of approach or delivery, right idea, wrong message. For those who were not satisfied I am sorry, deeply so. I understand how much it means to take time away from family and work to attend AU and to be part of any dissatisfaction is hard to bear and certainly not intended.

The subject of content and the family editor is a deep subject and the last two years I’ve provided classes on the subject have been living proof that you can’t please everyone. At least not with one class or one level of experience in mind. Even if you think you’ve got it correct someone will come along and provide insight that you failed to consider.

I will encourage the next AU to provide a broader scope of training focused on the family editor. Ideally a beginning to end structure as the power track was intended to provide for the project side of Revit, a power track for the family editor if you will. Whether I’m a part of it or not is immaterial, that it happens, and that you are successful with Revit is important to me!

Thank you for attending and caring enough to share your thoughts so we can all strive make AU even better every year!! (and make me better too!)


Robert said...


I don't think anyone can fault you for trying hard, and I think you did a good job to boot. If anything I think you've hit the nail on head with your closing remarks. Your ability to provide even more satisfactory classes is being limited by AU's scope with regards to Content and the family editor. I too hope that we can have more classes that focus on a number of issues and skill levels. With systems joining the club things are only going to get more complex.


David Baldacchino said...

Steve, I think that the content and delivery for the class was good. It's hard to teach Family creation with an audience of 600. Regardless of the quality and delivery, it's always hard to satisfy everyone.

Labs are difficult. I guess people expect hands-on experience at a more manageable pace. I've only been to one lab at AU (2005) and for a beginner's level that I was back then, I had a hard time keeping up and I don't know what I would have done if I managed to get in your class (the famous Door family class). It took me a day to go through that tutorial and really digest it all! Family editing is no easy task, but essential to Revit proficiency.

I really, really like the Power Track idea for JUST Family editing. It's next to impossible to teach a Beginner/Intermediate level lab, as the Beginner might not know Jack, while the Intermediate user will get suicidal hearing about how to create Family Types and what ref. planes are.

For the powertrack idea to be successful, I think there needs to be a good sampling of classes of all levels. Perhaps treat it like one big project that you start in one class and complete over a series of others. Of course to do something like this, you need to coordinate content between small feat. It would be great if users could give some suggestions of WHAT they'd like to see built and what they expect to learn. Perhaps some polls on AUGI might be a good start.

Each Advanced class would then continue to finish this "big" project started in the Intermediate Class (Beginner's classes should be for people that have never visited the family editor and should contain lots of little, simple examples of what ref planes are, how to place dims with parameters, building skeletons and locking geometry to ref planes, etc.). And perhaps as an additional bonus, they should contain some advanced techniques and examples to inspire them (similar to what you did in this year's labs), with no need to go into a lot of depth since the advanced audience "gets" the basics and is really looking for some bigger concepts.

I didn't intend to write a novel =) You did great Steve, and it's commendable to see that you're striving (publicly) to do even better in the years to come...we have no doubt!

David Light said...


Don't beat ya self up mate! Much like you, I always want my presentation to be informative & rewarding for the audience. But much like others have already said, with that amount of users, you will always get a mixed reaction. Excitech always do feedback forms at all our presentation, some of the comments range from excellent to the dam right bizarre. Often I really do wonder whether some of the audience have fully understood what am actually trying to explain. Family creation & family editing is a black art to a new Revit user, so the range of comments you received in my view, probably relates to the skills gap. I think more focused skills classes are essential as we more forward with the adoption of Revit. I sat at the back of many of the classes & got asked whether I was a Revit user as I bashed away on my laptop!! But talking to many of these people they where impressed with Revit, wanted to move forward, but just didn’t understand the culture impact it could have on their organisation. You could see the confusion on their faces. So in summary, the Revit power track was a great idea, but for the Revit novice whocame to AU learn everything about Revit in three days, it was probably just too much. I wouldn't worry to much. As my wife says (shes a school teacher for 4 -7 year olds) you have great days & difficult days.

Steven said...

Sorry, I couldn't back you up this time. Hopefully I will be available next time. I would push the idea of expanding the family editing classes to the appropriated people and use the comments to show need. If you need help just let me know.

Mike HB said...

Wow Steve... You sound like you are your worst critic.
Don't take the negatives to heart, you have done far too much for Revit worldwide to take notice of a few comments.
I agree with Steve's comment: ".......expanding the family editing classes to the appropriated people....."
Certainly people should qualify through a questionnaire or test to attend an advanced presentation. Otherwise you will land up standing in front looking at a load of "Doe eyes" waiting for the car to strike.

Hope to see your presentation this year {If I qualify...:o) }

Mike HB
revit implementation