Twenty or so years ago, software programs were developing as the manuals were being written, and often the latest updates in the software didn’t make their way into the final manual. This opened the door for magazines providing software training, and physical classes. Since then, the internet, YouTube and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have increased the opportunity for technology education several fold. Training guides are still valuable learning resources, however, and ASCENT now offers videos inside the guides of various exercises.
Jennifer MacMillan, ASCENT, Instructional Design Projects Manager, talked about the trends and latest instructional curriculum offered by ASCENT. As the traditional instructor-led training is definitely in decline, the need for other types of learning opportunities abound.
“At ASCENT, we definitely feel there is room for both types of learning,” said MacMillan. “The instructor-led side of things absolutely has to occur to set the foundation for learning. As you start to develop the skills you need, you can rely on YouTube and on your peers to learn more. Understanding of high-level strategies is much easier once you’ve learned the basics. Definitely that self-paced learning is what you’re seeing.”
The biggest focus for ASCENT right now is around Autodesk Fusion 360’s curriculum.
“Many are not given the opportunity to go off and take a five-day training class,” said MacMillan. “They’re expected to hit the ground running with new projects all the time. Even if they run into a new software, they still have to get that project done. There’s no room to let that slip.”
In terms of ASCENT’s latest software offering with the Fusion 360 training guide, Fusion 360 is new within the last few years.
“What we found when we started to investigate this software product was there was tons of learning online, such as YouTube,” said MacMillan. “Even Autodesk released tons of learning that was video based, but everything was not at that foundational basic level. It assumed you had those skills. So, we asked, where do users get that skill? We wanted to fill that void with our training guides, because we felt that foundation was absolutely missing in terms of what was available online.”
Considering the fact that students can’t get away from the office for very long, ASCENT developed the Fusion 360 Guide. Fusion 360 is an easy-to-use software product from Autodesk. The book is self-paced so the student can purchase the book, and the training guide and work at their own pace. There is a lot of video content included inside the online training guide so students can learn from that.
“We’ve also found in our most recent training guide, often times the exercises we go through in the book are very focused on this or that task,” said MacMillan. “We felt there was a need to bring all the tasks and requirements together in project-based projects. We did that in the latest training guide, the Sculpting Training guide, where we also included videos. That’s the first time we’ve done that, including videos of the exercises. In the past, videos were always of the learning content and then you used those skills to do the exercises on your own. If you got lost, the only reference you had was going back to the learning content again. But with this latest training guide, it was complex enough that for these projects that we actually embedded some videos so that if a student got lost, they could watch these videos to figure out what was going on.”
Each chapter starts with objectives and what you will learn in each chapter, and then there’s a set of review questions, to be sure students have learned the objectives and content for the chapter.
Students can go to the e-store or go to Amazon and buy it. In ASCENT’s online learning portal, there would be a certification of completion at the end of that course.
The content is designed for people with different learning styles. Some people want it shown to them in video, some people want to read content. Some people want to go straight to the exercise and by trial and error try to figure it out themselves, or go back to resources as they make mistakes or as they need to. “Everyone’s style is completely different and that book has something for everyone,” said MacMillan.
The Autodesk Fusion 360: Introduction to Parametric Modeling book is a foundation book, including the interface and basics of working with parametric modeling. The one introduced prior to AU is one step up above the fundamentals. However, if someone is only working in that environment, that book is standalone as well. It would provide them with foundations if they were doing freeform organic modeling.
ASCENT is very much involved with Autodesk so they have access to their beta programs and beta software prior to release. By working with Autodesk’s developers and product teams they can learn the software and get a head start on building the books and materials before the software is actually released.
Courseware materials in the works include manufacturing and Inventor HSM. On the architectural side, the Autodesk Advance Steel 2018: Fundamentals book is due to release in early February, dealing with the Advance Steel product that Autodesk released.
Everything is in print. Purchases can be made through ASCENT’s e-store, Amazon or through ASCENT. You can purchase an online license to get into the learning portal, you can also purchase everything as an e-book, which gives you an access on your computer, not a PDF, but through a proprietary e-book provider.