Author Topic: upgrading  (Read 20767 times)

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Cannon

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2007, 03:59:20 PM »
If the trainer isn't comfortable enough with Civil-3D to teach a class using the data you work with every day, then you shouldn't be hiring that person for training.

Can I quote you on that? That tends to be the magic differentiation between us and them. I admit to using the canned data for certain tasks (i.e. demoing basic corridors), because I know it's clean, reliable, and has the design demands in it that I want to demonstrate. This makes much more sense in a open enrollment class. If I'm at your place, give me your data and we'll roll.

Still don't think I've read half the AOTC Essentials book we teach from though. Figure you learned to read already, no need to demonstrate that skill.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2007, 04:05:20 PM by jwedding »

sinc

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2007, 05:30:16 PM »
If the trainer isn't comfortable enough with Civil-3D to teach a class using the data you work with every day, then you shouldn't be hiring that person for training.

Can I quote you on that?

Sure.

Quote
I admit to using the canned data for certain tasks (i.e. demoing basic corridors), because I know it's clean, reliable, and has the design demands in it that I want to demonstrate. This makes much more sense in a open enrollment class. If I'm at your place, give me your data and we'll roll.

I can see using canned data in an open-enrollment class.  But for customized training (which is significantly more valuable), I think it's a bad idea.  By using the data we receive every day, we got to learn a bunch of neat tricks (many involving Map) for getting messy data into a state where it is useful.  And as soon as the data was "clean", the class proceded in basically the same way as it would have with the canned data, with few disruptions or interruptions caused by "messy data".  There really did not seem to be any need at all for canned data.  And the few times we did have to stop and deal with "messy data", the experience was extremely valuable to all of us.

So I see far more value gained by avoiding the canned data.  So far, we have yet to receive anything from anyone else who is already using Civil-3D, so it was critical that we learn how to get the "normal mess" we typically receive into a usable state.  That's something that the "approved" courses tend to ignore completely, and the main reason why we've seen several people buy training, only to put Civil-3D back on the shelf soon after the trainer leaves.  Talk about a failure to realize ROI...   :-P

I think it might be a good idea to bring some specific examples along with you to teach, but reliance on the "magic disk" seems to the single most-devastating failure I've seen in the "approved" training.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2007, 05:32:29 PM by sinc »

Cannon

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2007, 06:21:32 PM »
At what point am I teaching you C3D, and when am I teaching you ACAD? There's a fine line here. If I spend half a day walking through data cleanup, what shall we eliminate from the class that generally runs a respectable three days to begin with?

You've hit one of our common sticky spots very well. The theory is that by using canned data, I can teach you to focus on the tool, not on the result. I'm often tempted to use ridiculous values and situations so that people don't get bogged down in the specifics ("We can't do that here, the city won't let us.") and think more in terms of general understanding of the tools.


sinc

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2007, 11:51:49 PM »
I really don't think we spent much more than an hour total on data cleanup, and we started with some pretty messy data in some cases.

And that hour was a very valuable part of the class.  Like I said, I've seen a couple of companies put Civil-3D back on the shelf after investing in training, simply because they couldn't figure out how to get their real-world data into the point where they could use what they learned in class.  Considering how easy it is to clean up data using some of the tools that are available, it's a real shame that they give up when they are so close, and have already invested so much time and money.  And that's basically because the trainer was following the approved script.

Dinosaur

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2007, 12:28:54 AM »
Just a second while I ease my ample keester onto this barbed wire wrapped fence rail.

Absolutely, it seems there are  opposing approaches to software training and we are lucky enough here in TheSwamp to have instructors and students from both schools represented.  The results from both can be seen all over Land Lubber and there are outstanding examples from each to compare.  I am fiercely loyal to my instructor and his teaching methods.  I would not hesitate to recommend his services to anyone and know of at least two other Swamp members who have either received or been strongly influenced by him.  I also have met with both the other instructor and, I am sure, his star client.  I am in total awe of what their efforts along with the students have accomplished.

I started out being quite outspoken against the canned presentation approach.  Early on, it seemed most resellers were pushing 3 day classes that appeared to be little more than a reverse engineered project and this seemed very much like my intro to r10 some 15 years prior that was so ineffective our companies transition to CAD would have been stillborn had it not been mandatory for a major contract.  THIS was the philosophy I railed against, not the methods James has developed.

While I am personally more comfortable with a highly individually devised instruction, that is me and my own circumstance and I can see that should that change, I might be better served by James' methods.  It is obvious that both approaches can achieve good results and the best one for any given company at any given time is driven by their circumstances.

A general course that spends a given amount of time explaining the survey functions to a company that contracts out all of its data collection pretty much wastes that amount of time which could have been used to hammer home say, the real value of parcels and open up the company to a whole new workflow that would likely been ignored with less intensive exposure.  Conversely, a company that perceives no value in the grading tools may opt for an individualized session that ignores these features may never attempt to incorporate this powerful feature and lock their old inefficient workflow into a new generation of software of wasted potential.

There does not appear to be one universal "right" choice here.  In the end, it is far more important that the training is received rather than the method by which it is delivered.  I said received, not given.  The real critical element is the attitude of the student and their commitment to learning what is presented.

Arizona

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #20 on: April 27, 2007, 08:04:49 AM »
^^^Nicely said  :-)

jpostlewait

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #21 on: April 27, 2007, 08:06:24 PM »
As usual Dino, you are most eloquent.
Categorizing me as James's star client is probably over the top.
Maybe James's biggest PIA.
Couple of very good points made, in adult professional education, it's not about the instructor it's about the student.
Anyone who pays money and sends employees, on the clock, to learn should expect the instructor to adjust to his audience.
I have not been able to control events enough to smooth this path as much as I would have liked.
But my main focus was to get this done, come hell or highwater, as best as I could.
Compromises were made and a shakeup this big requires some delicate handling.
I'm sure if I had run across Mike before I hit James up things might be different.
But I think we both know you have to find someone who knows what they are doing to assist in this transition.
Jason, Dana, Angel, Scott, Danny and the list is growing can really help your business.

sinc

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2007, 11:09:28 AM »
Conversely, a company that perceives no value in the grading tools may opt for an individualized session that ignores these features may never attempt to incorporate this powerful feature and lock their old inefficient workflow into a new generation of software of wasted potential.

If this ever happened, I would perceive it as a failure in the teacher.  By using the standard data from the company, the instructor should be able to get a very good idea of what the company does.  And if the instructor realizes that this company really needs to know how to use the grading tools and fails to teach it because they fail to ask for it, then that is a failure in the teacher.  (Or are you saying that the company would argue with the teacher, and tell him "we don't need grading tools; you don't know what you're talking about, teach us something else"?  If a company felt that way, why are they hiring the teacher??)

In general, what I see happening is that a company wants to transition to Civil-3D, so they hire an instructor to come in for a 3-5 day class.  This is an "intro" course.  And in a 3-5 day intro course, I can think of very few things where canned data would provide any significant benefit.  On the other hand, for people just starting out with C3D, getting "old-style" data into C3D tends to be the single biggest hurdle they face initially.  And unfortunately, the "official" training seems to echo James's feelings, that data cleanup detracts from "teaching Civil-3D".  I don't think they can be separated, and getting data into C3D is a fundamental part of using C3D, so any intro course that ignores it is doing a dis-service to the students.

It's more up-in-the-air for continuing courses.  For example, a typical thing is that a company will run for a while with C3D after the intro course.  Then, when they feel comfortable with what they're doing, they schedule another 3-5 day training seminar to cover more-advanced topics.  At this point, the instructor should already have a good idea of what the company does and how, because of the ongoing relationship.  And presumably, the instructor has significant real-world experience.  That means the instructor should have a pretty clear indication of what the next steps should be.  And this time around, since the company is familiar with the basics of working with C3D, it will make more sense if the instructor needs to start talking about workflow changes, and new processes and procedures that are significantly different from the company's current practices.  At this point, I can actually see some value in "canned data", because there is no need to go over the basics anymore.  So it makes sense to have a canned DWG containing a corridor that is mostly-built so that the class can study complex intersections, for example.

But still, I think there is greater value from using the company's own data set.  By this time, the company probably has a project they are working on with a complex intersection in it, or one they recently "gave up" on modelling completely because it was too complex.  So, if the instructor works with them on getting THAT intersection working, he basically covers all the same tasks he would've covered with the canned data.  But again, because it's real-world data, it provides the chance to hit real-world problems that are "glossed over" by the canned data.  It is far better for the company to hit this sort of problem while the instructor is present, rather than after the instructor leaves.  And again, working on the company's live data gives more feedback to the instructor, giving him a better idea of what the company currently does and how, which can provide guidance for what needs to be taught.

I think what I would find most valuable is something of a combination.  This would involve an instructor who came and taught the classes on our real live data, but also brought along a collection of "canned files" that illustrate complex tasks in clean ways, such as the one Dana posted.  But again, I just see so much more value realized from using the company's live data that I think it should be the initial choice.  Then, if the real-world data fails to illustrate any important points, the instructor can always pull out the canned drawing.  And the instructor can leave the canned drawings with the students, as a reference material for later.  This is what I would find to be the most-valuable course.

Of course, one thing I haven't explicitly mentioned is that the instructor hopefully has significant real-world industry experience, and was good at it.  Unfortunately, the only requirements for becoming a "certified" trainer are six months experience, and proving that you can teach the scripted class.  One of the issues we've had with the "approved training" is we've seen people we know (because one or more of us previously worked with them) go get certified and become official trainers.  These are people we wouldn't hire to work for us, and they go out training others.  That makes us shudder.  And it's probably a more-significant element in quality of training than whether or not the instructor uses canned data.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2007, 11:13:23 AM by sinc »

jpostlewait

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2007, 06:20:01 PM »
I don't think at this point I can help myself but I felt compelled to reply.
First I want to clear up any misconception concerning this statement
>>I'm sure if I had run across Mike before I hit James up things might be different.<<

What I meant by that was "If I had discovered Michael first he may have been recommended."
I might have stopped looking.
Any difficulties in our implementation efforts are solely mine not James's.
My firm is different than yours sinc.
We are a "full service" firm. The people in our organization need to use all of the features of the product.
Unfortunately many in my firm are not full service employees.
Our Wastewater group does sewer plans.
Our Traffic group does traffic control plans etc. etc.
Ideally the most efficient approach to our training would have been to approach each group independently and focus the training on those portions of the software that they needed to use on an everyday basis.
I couldn't pull this off. Seems like each group had a little thing called clients that didn't allow for this kind of approach.
We spent particular attention to a "Core group" who would have to develop styles and an internal support and mentoring system. For them it was a long uphill climb.
Our pilot project team tackled a very complex project with some pretty flakey software, sp1 & 2.
Back to the subject of your thread ( bet you wondered when I was going to get around to that)
What we have learned so far and what everybody agrees on, whether they know it or not, is every situation is different and every implementation is different. All have certain similarities but all are different.
James seems to like the trim carpentry analogy lately comparing trimming a house with reading the manual of a mitre saw. You at some point have to do both.
The 3 day essentials class offered by your reseller is more like the mitre saw manual.
Hiring a consultant to come to your site to teach your organization how to best use this product to improve efficiency falls in line with learning how to be a trim carpenter.
If you are in a class to learn the mitre saw you really don't need the data getting in the way.
You have to learn the tool and it's practical application.

Dinosaur

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #24 on: April 29, 2007, 12:03:26 AM »
I told you drizzt, your questions seem to spark some very interesting threads.  Thanks for clearing up that one statement John . . . that perked my ears up so hard my jaw still hurts.

Eloquent?  Well that is the nicest anyone has ever put it . . . previous best was "verbose" then rambling and it deteriorates from there.  I can't help it - I am the natural result of liberal arts degree in history where the grades were dependent on the poundage as much as the content in my papers and how many theme books I filled during the finals.  Speaking of college days, this thread is starting to sound a lot like homecoming weekend between crosstown rivals tied for first place.  I want you guys to know how much I appreciate you bouncing that fence rail I am still sitting on.

sinc, we have both heard the same lectures and I know exactly where you are coming from.  What I don't think either of us knows is what happens when James fires up a class with things he has learned about this program since BEFORE it was even called Civil 3D.  One thing I don't think happens is the complete reliance on the magic disk.  James has in fact posted his willingness to use the client data when he is working with an individual client.  When teaching a group from a mix of clients, I am not sure that data would be of any more use than canned data to the groups from other companies.    At this point we are starting to discuss entire business models instead of bringing Civil 3D enlightenment to the masses . . . things best left up to bankers and board rooms to discuss.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2007, 10:26:54 AM by Diněsaur »

sinc

  • Guest
Re: upgrading
« Reply #25 on: April 29, 2007, 12:52:33 PM »
Yes, I'm sure that James is not one of those like we've seen, where someone who was considered to be a pretty junior CAD tech becomes a certified trainer simply by learning the script.  And all I am doing is stating my opinion; I would think that a trainer would like to hear it, and take it in conjunction with all the other opinions he's heard, and mix it in with the experience of teaching repeated courses to different types of groups.  It might not be useful feedback for some situations, but it could be very useful feedback for others.

I think the only point that I strongly disagree on is that I don't think learning how to get data into C3D is a distraction from teaching C3D.  I think it should be a part of instruction, even if the rest is taught using canned data.  Like I said, that seems to be the one part that really frustrates people.  And it is not very well-covered in the Autodesk documentation, either, unlike other parts of the program.  There is so much value realized from spending an hour on Map tools and creating C3D objects from the resulting data that it seems unwise to omit it from the course.  And if the company is one of those few that used Map with Land Desktop, it might not even take an hour.  I don't think there's anyone in the Civil-3D world who doesn't need to start from some sort of "data from others" on a regular basis, and right now, very little of that data is created in Civil-3D.

jpostlewait

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2007, 05:06:52 PM »
I need some opinions.

I have been with this company for 7 years now and we are using Land Desktop 2000. Every year I get quotes to upgrade to the current version of Land Desktop. This year I am going to recomend upgrading to Civil 3D. Since I am so far behind, I am also going to recomend two 3-day classes offered here in Denver, CO. I will also need to upgrade my machine.

I am the only CAD/Graphics person in the office and I support 4 land planners. All we do here is Land Use permits, and every once in a while construction plans.

The price tag to upgrade, with training is nearing $9,000.

My first question is this, is it worth upgrading for a company this small?

Second, if I don't get approval to upgrade, am I becoming obsolete, and how would you handle the situation?

To be brutally honest you are already obsolete.
Your career path is downward without improvement these days. You have to keep getting better in order to stay even.
You just have to get closer to current to remain marketable.
I really don't know if you could ever cost justify the expense your firm needs to put into training but I know one thing for sure, you are dead meat without it.
Now back to sinc and Dino and I arguing about the same thing. :-)

sinc have you tried to work with any Revit data yet?
My Archies are starting to use that product and in the not to distant future I'm sure we will be faced with intergrating that sort of information into either site work or survey.
Revit has some crude sort of site definition tools, enough to satisfy an Archie, and I was curious if you had run into that before.

Dinosaur

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #27 on: April 29, 2007, 05:58:47 PM »
. . . To be brutally honest you are already obsolete.
Your career path is downward without improvement these days. You have to keep getting better in order to stay even.
You just have to get closer to current to remain marketable.
I really don't know if you could ever cost justify the expense your firm needs to put into training but I know one thing for sure, you are dead meat without it.

Very true, drizzt.  Remember that MAP data I tried to translate into something your software could read?  There will only be more of that in your future.  There is all kinds of GIS data out there that you are going to be increasingly reliant on to do your Land Use work and you need software that can handle it without the hassles of translating it to something r2000 can read and hoping nothing gets lost.  At a minimum you need to upgrade your MAP and remember, Civil 3D IS MAP with all of the civil design functions for your construction plans included.

As to training, you absolutely need it.  Some can learn Civil 3D on their own, but of those who try that road, nearly all fail in their first few attempts and Civil 3D does not have an easy rout back to ANY other software that leaves your data in any usable form for r2000.  Even if it has to be the magic disk special from your reseller, get something.  If at all possible, solicit proposals from different sources and pin them down on exactly what they are proposing to sell you.  It is probably a purchase choice just as important as the software you select.

Cannon

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Re: upgrading
« Reply #28 on: April 29, 2007, 09:56:34 PM »
I think the only point that I strongly disagree on is that I don't think learning how to get data into C3D is a distraction from teaching C3D.  I think it should be a part of instruction, even if the rest is taught using canned data. 

I think we're talking about two different things now. Let me boil down why I generally want to use my own data. This is sometimes the AOTC data, often it's stuff I've borrowed from projects I've worked on.
  • My data is complete. I know that I have a surface that doesn't have fifteen thousand busts, but has a couple so I can demonstrate how to fix them. I know I have an alignment, a corridor and a parcel layout that all will fit on the same site and coordinates so I'm not fighting silly things while I'm trying to teach assemblies.
  • I know how the design will turn out. I know all the missteps that one of the 12 people in class could take. I know what they've done wrong before I see their screen much of the time. I don't have to spend time thinking about my approach to a problem, burning up your class time with my three or four iteratations at finding a workable solution.
  • To be blunt, your data is crap. Your layers suck. You lines aren't tangent. Your blocks are corrupt. You've got anonymous crap put in your data from the CAD tech you fired six months ago and he used a bogus LSP one time and you're STILL fighting the results. Do you REALLY want to pay me to solve your cad issues when you hired me to teach you C3D? I'm happy to do it, but that's NOT the scope of most essentials classes.
  • First impressions count. If you're just getting into C3D, you've probably heard enough horror stories as it it about how unstable it is, how crappy it is, blah blah blah. Most of those horror stories relate to the point above. I'm not going to risk people leaving my class with a bad taste in their mouth for C3D simply because I tried to use data that was corrupt before I ever touched it.
  • It's not a charity event. At the end of the day, the project scope drives things. I don't work for free. Well, except the 40 posts a day to the NG, the big ass blog we write, the AU materials we give away, the Cad Camp materials we give away...oh wait, where was I? Yeah, fees. When we present a proposal that includes using your data, I have to do some homework. I have to look at the problem, try a couple of approaches, and pick one. Happy to do it, but there's no fee in the typical class proposal for much homework beyond find the office and flying out. The time to get to most places eats much of the class profit as it is.
There you have it. The main reasons I don't want to use our very brief time together to look at cad-level problems on the fly. It just doesn't make sense to have a highly paid instructor sitting in a class with 10 people as they watch him/her figure out what approach to take. My opinion. Sinc, if I ever come out, I'll include a day or two for homework in the proposal, and I won't touch the AOTC disc, promise.

It's an open debate. Personally, I think the biggest issue with many instructors right now is that they simply can't adapt, and it doesn't matter whose data they use. If you go off the written trail, they're toast. The inability to hit a curve ball is killing the channel AE. It's a poor way to educate the end user, and I think it's the primary reason adoption has been so slow. OK, rant over, I have to go edit a book.

drizzt

  • Guest
Re: upgrading
« Reply #29 on: April 30, 2007, 03:17:12 PM »
Thanks everyone for your imput and of course

Quote
To be brutally honest you are already obsolete.

I would always appreciate butal honesty over any other spoken or typed word.

Any one hiring an obsolete draftsman / designer?