Getting Smarter About Your Software
Melanie Stone posted on June 03, 2020 |
Is CAD/BIM training DIY or best done by professionals?
U.S. CAD has sponsored this post.

In addition to learning about their own trade, designers have to master the tools used to document those designs and collaborate across teams. CAD and AEC software is not a simple thing to learn, so it can be hard to know where to start.

In this day and age, there are many ways to approach professional development and education. If you do it on your own, you can choose from reading textbooks or online documentation, watching videos or participating in online forums.

KaDe King, Senior Technical Specialist and Corporate Trainer, U.S. CAD. (Picture courtesy of LinkedIn.)

KaDe King, Senior Technical Specialist and Corporate Trainer, U.S. CAD. (Picture courtesy of LinkedIn.)

There are also training options for those who would prefer having an instructor with a defined curriculum. Even then, you might have a choice between classroom training online, at a value-added reseller (VAR) facility, through a college or university, or by having a consultant come to teach onsite.

In order to talk about available options, and the potential benefits or drawbacks of each, recently spoke with KaDe King, Senior Technical Specialist and Corporate Trainer at U.S. CAD.

You moved from drafting and design into training quite awhile back. But, when you do have to learn new things yourself, what do you find most effective?

KaDe King: I like to be in an environment where I can ask questions. It doesn’t have to be face to face; it can be watching a video, seeing the visual. Reading is good if I need to find something really quick and specific. But seeing something for the first time or learning a new workflow, watching someone do it is essential for me.

Having someone to go to, to answer specific questions along the way, really helps. A video recording is good simply because I can watch it, do it myself, and re-watch. Using that technique is quite useful.

Do you think resources such as user forums are beneficial?

They are useful. When I was younger, I cut my teeth in the online forums, supporting companies. It is essential, especially when you have an issue. You can see who had the issue and who can help figure out how to manage this. It is super critical.

If someone else has experienced an issue and they resolved it, while it may not match your situation exactly, you’ve got this searchable repository.

But it’s not only the just-in-time troubleshooting and answering a specific question; it can also mean discovering a better way of doing things.

Online documentation for learning Civil 3D. (Image from
Online documentation for learning Civil 3D. (Image from

Do you like learning from textbooks? If so, what are the types of qualities you look for in a good manual?

I do find value in textbook learning, where there are exercises to work through. One of the struggles people have with learning something new is not understanding the complete workflow. Having a step by step exercise can make a big difference. It’s much like the difference between attending a presentation or going into a lab-based class.

That is one nice thing about technology-based training manuals. But the term training manual is very important here, and the exercises should be built in.

Working for a reseller, traditionally you have conducted a lot of in person training?

I’ve conducted general education classes, where people from multiple companies will likely attend and learn a topic, as well as dedicated training where a company has multiple users come in together. I’ve conducted custom training, also, where instead of using standard coursework, you customize your topic for a very specific need they have.

There are certain times (such as now) where in-person training is not feasible. What other options do people have?

On-demand learning can be a good alternative. Platforms such as CADLearning and LinkedIn Learning offer on-demand courses. There are things each one of these providers is good at. We all learn differently, and that can change in different times of our lives. You might not learn the same way at 45 as you did at 25.

We also recently developed our own on-demand resource called U.S. CAD Online University.

A portion of the U.S. CAD Online University course library. (Image courtesy of U.S.CAD.)
A portion of the U.S. CAD Online University course library. (Image courtesy of U.S.CAD.)

What inspired this concept for an on-demand approach to training, when your team has historically focused on face-to-face training?

We realized we could use a replacement for in-person training. One of the things we have found, in all of the markets we primarily serve, is that we don’t always have enough people sign up for an in-person class. This concept was a way for us to help a customer get training now, rather than waiting months for enough people to sign up. We have AutoCAD fundamentals, held on different days and different sessions. There are multiple online classes on all products and at all different levels, addressing needs across the country.

In U.S. CAD Online University, we are offering live, online sessions in addition to self-paced, pre-recorded materials.  Right now, and through July 31, 2020 we are offering the platform at no cost.

We realized that we can no longer serve the industry with ‘open enrollment’ classes. We have offices all over the countries that you could choose from, but we can’t make that work anymore.

It makes much more sense to have an online session. Of course, it is important to have all of the components of a good training program, such as being able to see the presentation and have an opportunity to ask questions. We’ve even set up ‘office hours’ so that anyone who has attended those sessions has a chance every week to call in and ask follow-up questions. These classes are also recorded, so you have the ability to go back and grab something to watch again if you need to.

This new program is serving an even bigger need than you initially anticipated. I am curious, when was this on-demand approach conceived with your team?

We first discussed it as a company last year (2019). We began preparing for rollout, and it really launched at the beginning of March, starting with that round of sessions.

It is all new, but we have a lot of topics. We have a whole series of BIM 360 sessions of all kinds, Navisworks, workflows that depend on the industry, in addition to the expected design software sessions.

That back-end structure is set up and in place, so it can work for these jump-in sessions, or serve a company that has a team with specific learning needs.

Thank you, KaDe! There are so many ways to learn, and we did not even have time to dive into webinars, secondary schools and colleges, podcasts or social media. One important thing to keep in mind regarding learning on your own: you don’t know what you don’t know. So, why not go and see what else is out there?


To learn more about training options and how they can improve your process, visit U.S. CAD.

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