Design Software Training Evolves in the Pandemic

IMAGINiT and SolidProfessor discuss the transformation of CAD training during the Coronarivus outbreak

Professional training providers IMAGINiT and SolidProfessor discuss the transformation of CAD classes during the Coronarivus outbreak.

CAD training is moving online and elearning is accelerating during the pandemic, according to leading training providers IMAGINiT and SolidProfessor.

According to World Economic Forum, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom, propelling a rapid move to online learning. 

A similar change is also happening among the professional adult learners, The pandemic is changing how engineers learn the tools of the trade, according to two leading CAD training and education providers.

The shift from in-person classes to remote learning was incremental before the Coronavirus, but the shutdown and travel restrictions are accelerating it.

“We started transitioning a few of our courses to online instructor-led delivery, but [the pandemic] brought it to the forefront,” said Kevin Kuker, VP of Training and Support at IMAGINiT. “It made us polish up this delivery method a lot. We're delivering about 80% of the volume of the training we were delivering before the pandemic. But now 99% of it, is delivered online. We've also seen a big transition to self-paced learning. Many of our courses are now prerecorded, with ebooks, practices and exercises.”

“Many businesses have experienced disruptions, which have resulted in less formal team training. However, individual learners have been consistent with their engagement, which is great to see. We also work heavily with K-12 and post-secondary schools and that's by far where we've seen the most dramatic change with so many teachers shifting to virtual instruction,” said Tony Glockler, Cofounder and CEO of SolidProfessor.

Task-Specific Micro-Learning on the Rise

SolidProfessor offers courses on a variety of mainstream CAD and simulation software, including SolidWorks, CATIA, Ansys, and Solid Edge. 

“By nature, SolidProfessor's video tutorials are short and easy to follow at your own pace,” said Glockler. “The style and topics of our online video-based courses haven't changed, though we regularly add new material on a variety of subjects from CAD software to product data management and other design methods. We are dedicating some additional efforts to prioritize the release of new courses that help engineers build valuable career skills from home—like software certification.”

SolidProfessor courses are hosted on the company's online learning platform, which allows paying students to revisit lessons at their convenience. 

A division of Rand Worldwide, IMAGINiT is one of the largest Autodesk software training, service, and support providers. It offers live classes (now mostly delivered remotely), elearning courses, and custom training. New software adoption still appears to be the primary driver for training; however, classes are getting much shorter, in consideration of the unavoidable online-learning fatigue.

“Instead of taking a 40-hour training package, companies tend to want us to do a skill assessment, then customize the curriculum to their own unique skill gaps and processes,” explained Kuker. “We now tend to do more shorter-term and task-based classes.”

Task-Specific Interactive Classes Address Skill Gaps

To give the students hands-on experience with the software, Kuker said IMAGINiT gives students access to a remote computer with the software installed. “So this is not just lectures. The students do the exercises while the instructor observes them. About 80-90% of our classes are instructor-led and interactive,” he added.

Custom courses are often the result of a company's discovery of a skill gap among its staff. “They usually don't come to us and say, we know our problem is surface modeling, for example. But they may come to us because there's a bottleneck in their product design, and in our assessment, we may discover their designers don't know how to manipulate certain types of surfaces,” said Kuker.

For sush a client, task-based training offers more value than a generic course on a specific software title.

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Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong is Digital Engineering’s resident blogger and senior editor. Email him at [email protected] or share your thoughts on this article at

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