Friday, July 19, 2013

Training Resources or Options

This post is biased toward learning on our own and in a way a response to a question I was asked recently.

There are many many options available to learn Revit whether Architecture, Structure or MEP (and in no particular order):

  • Autodesk Help Documentation
  • Autodesk You Tube Videos
  • Autodesk Resellers (there are many and vary from region to region)
  • Autodesk Training Centers (usually associated with or are resellers)
  • Consultants (like me)
  • Virtual Training
  • Colleges/University programs
  • Community Colleges
  • Adult Education programs
  • Technical Universities
  • Video Training
  • Online Videos
  • Blogs
  • User Groups
  • Web Sites
  • Books

Some of those listed above are structured like a formal class and some are better tuned for independent learning than others. Some are very specific while others are "surface scratchers". Nearly all rely on your initiative. The tricky part about training is one approach does not work for everyone equally, there isn't a one size fits all solution, regardless what you may have been told.

A common approach is to throw students at the software in a classroom setting either at a reseller, training center or in your office hiring a consultant or reseller to come on-site. Considering my earlier comment about everyone, this approach at least hits the middle ground consistently. Students leave with a fairly consistent understanding of the software. The group as a whole makes a single "Uni-Mind" since collectively they probably took in everything delivered and can piece it back together later if they ever talk to one another about it again. Not much chance of the "Uni-Mind" working if it is in a classroom of people from different firms, such as a community college setting or reseller's training room.

Another typical approach is to throw software at the students without formal training/trainer, just go for it. This usually takes the form of a highly motivated individual or individuals opting to take it on with the hope of getting the rest of the firm on board. I've seen this work but it's hard! I've been down this road myself. In other cases some firms take this route, a passive training route that pretends it doesn't cost much as formal training to let people struggle and do things inefficiently, repetitively until they figure it out, if they ever really do. For that strategy to work long term it really takes some people with a strong sense of purpose and extreme loyalty.

Classroom instruction at the university/college is usually structured over a longer period of time, weekend class, one or two evenings per week for example. Finding these will depend heavily on where you are. There are several options here in Southern California but in Davenport, Iowa it might be harder. Your mileage will vary.

User Groups that meet monthly offer a meaningful way to discuss how to accomplish things if the group is structured that way. Some groups have formal presentation but leave little time for one on one or sessions for solving problems. Those that do put time aside for that can sometimes feel burdened, especially if only a few are really contributing to solving the issues the group brings forward.

The online resources available suffer from the lack of structure, at least when viewing them as all one thing. Individual online videos from a company like or Infinite Skills obviously have more structure and purpose than my own videos that are created because of circumstances and just because I feel like it. An internet search will yield a lot of things to read or watch but sometimes they conflict with each other, different viewpoints or in some cases just wrong. It doesn't take much to create a video explaining how to do something that you only know how to do one way, which happens to be "wrong" or just uninformed. If you spend five minutes watching that sort of video you'll just have more questions afterward than when you started.

Books are always based on the bias of the author or contributing authors, their own work experience as well as the kind of problems the book chooses to consider in the solutions or concepts it offers. I wrote in another post that we aren't limited to one Revit book on our book shelves so don't feel like you have to buy only the "best book" (whatever that is), buy several or all of them, you'll pick up useful things from any or all of them.

It's been written/said many times before, just because we finish attending school formally at some point, learning should never stop. What sort of person are you? How do you learn and retain information? Do you remember things somebody says more than when you read it? Watch it? Do you need to try something, experiment for two hours before things really start to make sense to you?

There are a lot of options! Figure out what sort of learning method works best for you and then find everything that fits that best. Don't shun the others but if you won't remember anything from a 20 hour class any better than by reading a book, by all means read the book! If your company is going to hire a trainer and you don't learn that way the best, say so, tell the trainer too. Find a way to benefit from the training, but in a way that'll ensure you retain as much information as you can. It's your class! Make sure it works for you, the trainer already knows the stuff.

Oh, you don't have to wait for your employer to "train you", what and when you learn is up to you too! :)

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