First Look Review: ADT 2006 Tutorial Series

3 Aug, 2006 By: Patrick Davis

Use your computer to learn Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2006, via CD or Web

CADLearning by 4D Technologies
Pros: Easy to navigate, up-to-date content, good instruction, trial available online
Cons: None significant
Price: $299 single seats, discounts for five or more seats. $249 for a 12-month online subscription

CADLearning by 4D Technologies

The Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2006 Tutorial Series from CADLearning is a training system you can purchase on CD or as a Web-based program. The series offers 15 sections of learning, from fundamentals and concepts to styles, tools and palettes, project management and rendering. Each section is broken into individual lessons; 189 lessons all together provide about 22 hours of instruction.

The lessons are easy to follow and well thought out. The material is presented in a video format, and the player lets users stop, pause, start, fast-forward and rewind at will using VCR-like controls. A highlighted cursor as well as audio and video cues are used to emphasize when the instructor is clicking the mouse or typing on the keyboard.

Following the highlighted cursor is one way users can keep close tabs on the instruction in the Architectural Desktop 2006 Training Series from CADLearning.

All CADLearning's CD-based products share the same user interface and features. The interface tracks your progress. You also can search through lessons to use them as references. Each lesson begins with an outline that doesn't just give information on how to use the tools, but also tells you why and when you should use the tools. The instructional material is then provided with the instructor covering most control and parameter options for each tool. What you won't find are sample files or exercises that walk you through a similar example.

CADLearning offers its products in three formats. CD-ROM-based products are designed for people with limited Internet access. The CD requires the registration of the computer on which the product runs, and can be licensed on two workstations. The online version is less expensive than the CD-ROM-based material and can be accessed by any computer that has an Internet connection. The licensed user is provided with a user name and password to access the online course material.

CADLearning also now offers a new program called Hosted, Managed CAD Learning Center, which allows corporations, consulting firms, learning centers and the like to use CADLearning's standard instructional material and to add to their own custom content. Users think they're still on their organization's servers because of the separate hosted facilities and branding. Unlike the other online products from CADLearning, this product option also allows clients to add unique assessments and tests or any custom content and courses specific to the users. The current pricing/licensing structure is based on the client's current Autodesk subscription count. Contact the company for additional details.

CADLearning's new Hosted, Managed CAD Learning Center allows companies to customize learning systems as part of their own training programs.

Essentially, the content of the training you receive using the CD or online version of Architectural Desktop 2006 Tutorial Series is very similar to the training that you would receive from any of Autodesk's authorized training centers. The real difference boils down to instructor interaction. If you are the type of student who is more comfortable in a classroom setting where you can ask the instructor questions, then this type of training may not be the best option for you. On the other hand, if you have had success using books or computer-based training programs, then you should investigate this offering from CADLearning.

On the CADLearning Web site, without registering, you can also test drive sample lessons from several CADLearning courses to help determine if CD or online training will fit your needs. If you complete the free registration process, you also can access free tips and tricks, skills assessment and other learning and informational tools.

I've used CADLearning's CD and online products and, personally, I prefer the online version. In addition to being less expensive than the CD-based product, the online version is available to me from any computer that has Internet access. When I travel, I don't have to remember the CDs or which computer is licensed to run the tutorials.

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