CAD Manager's Newsletter (#453)

9 Sep, 2020 By: Robert Green

Craft Effective Remote CAD Trainings, Step by Step

These tips will help you prepare video tutorials and accompanying cheat sheets, and deliver polished instructor-led trainings.

In the previous installment of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I began a discussion on how best to run a training program, given the restrictions of remote work imposed by the COVID-19 situation. I stressed how to organize for such a program, what to avoid, and how to get your management to support you in your endeavors.

In this edition, we'll wrap up by covering the practical mechanics of how to capture, control, and deliver your training, while also passing along some tips and tricks for becoming a better remote trainer along the way. Here goes.

Even if your users are diligent about taking notes during trainings, you'll still need to prepare written reference materials they can rely on once the training is over. Image source: StudioRomantic/
Even if your users are diligent about taking notes during trainings, you'll still need to prepare written reference materials they can rely on once the training is over. Image source: StudioRomantic/

Why Written Materials Matter

Whenever I discuss these issues, someone will inevitably ask, "In the age of YouTube and Microsoft Teams, do written training materials still matter?" I continue to answer that question with a resounding Yes! True enough, "written materials" are now most likely a PDF file prepared using a handout-style format and emailed to your colleagues, but they still must be crafted just as any other printed resource would be.

Why? Because after the training takes place, human memory fades, and the only thing users have to fall back on is whatever handouts or cheat sheets you give them!

But shouldn't users take good notes in the first place? Well, yes, but can they really take notes that are complete enough to serve as a record of training? Can they accurately record the details of how a dialog box looks or how many program options there are in a given command? Most likely not.

Creating Video-Worthy Scripts

Using tips from the "Aim for Minimal Length and Maximum Engagement" section in the previous edition, you'll easily create training material scripts that are concise and geared for video — which will be our format of choice — right from the start. As a bonus, we can create these using video-centric methods and get your written materials done with very little incremental effort. Here is a modified approach to building training materials that takes current technology tools into account, even though the eventual output will be a traditional written handout:

1. Create the rough script. I start with a list of bullet items combined with a demonstration model or file, then move into a rough script of actions that moves me through the exercise I'll use in the training. My goal is simply to capture the steps I need to demonstrate and get them in the right order, in the context of conveying my training concept(s).
2. Now wing it. Using my rough framework and sample model I talk my way through the training to see how it flows. At this stage I'm not worried about making mistakes, I'm just trying to be sure I haven't missed any steps. I'll often try this "wing it" approach several times just to get a better feel for the training exercise, and I'll update my rough framework notes as I go along.
3. Repeat as needed. After I feel confident enough in my rough framework, I begin getting the presentation in final shape by refining my notes, example files and talk track until I feel I've got a valid training lesson. At this point it may still not be perfectly smooth, but it should be final in content, sequence, and form. The more time you spend here, the better your training will eventually be, simply because you'll be more confident in your delivery.
4. Record your final trial runs. This is a bonus step: Using a video-recording tool (more on this shortly), capture the screen and narration of your final trial runs. This recording will help you create training handouts, practice your timing, and will help you improve your public speaking skills if you take the time to listen to yourself.

Read more »

Tools and Resources

IoT Selection Guide Available from PTC and Tech-Clarity
PTC is offering a guide to finding an Internet of Things (IoT) platform authored by Jim Brown, founder of industry research firm Tech-Clarity. "Buyer's Guide: Improving Service with Remote Monitoring" outlines how to define requirements and considerations when looking for a remote monitoring platform. The guide is free for download by site visitors who provide their e-mail address.

Onshape Offers Guide to PDM and Data Management
Onshape has published a digital guide that reviews key factors to consider when choosing a data management solution. "The Engineering Leader's Guide to PDM and Data Management" covers the pros and cons of file-based product data management (PDM) systems and compares them to alternative cloud and mobile technologies. The guide is free for download by site visitors who register.

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Shapr3D Adds Adaptive UI to 3D Modeling App for iPad
Parasolid-based app features offline modeling in 2D and 3D with builds accurate to 10 decimal places, and now, predictive tool suggestions. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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