training trouble looking for advice

Hi all,
I'm at a new job - my 3rd in 17 years! Anyhow, part of my new
responsibilities is to train an older staff member sw. The person I'm
training is intelligent etc yet has very little computer experience and
almost 0 cad experience of any kind. I'm trying to balance the pressure's
of coming on mid stream into a number of large projects (including masses
of sw assemblies with in-context relationships between un-mated parts,
parts that are not symetrical to their own origins and other such
treasures!) as well as hand-holding someone who today asked me for the 20th
time what the (f) means in front of a part!
I have to say - I'm not handling this as well as I would like. I do not
mind teaching but find limited or non-existant patience for people who ask
the same question more than once. To me it implies they don't care, can't
take notes, can't remember or are just planning on eating up my time as a
living breathing help file. The hit on my productivity is huge.
I've been using 3d parametric design software almost full time for 10 years
now and this is very frustrating.
Just venting and looking for some coping strategies if anyone has them...!
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Zander, my condolences, but the situation could become a very positive thing for both you and the "older" staff member if you handle it right. He is having difficulty concentrating and paying attention and/or has some basic conceptual problem/limitation. We all get ADD eventually , so I hope someone will be patient with me when the time comes. This guy is probably getting worried about his job (if he's not, perhaps he should be) and probably somewhat technophobic. Using a little humor and also letting the guy know that you care about whether he's uncomfortable might help some. Explaining with humor or with a story why paying full attention to what one is doing is crucial/central to success at anything might help him focus for a few minutes, and a few minutes might be enough to get the guy over the hump. He needs some confidence. Help him by teaching a little Zen. If you don't know a little Zen, read "The Way of the Peaceful Warrior" by Dan Millman or "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Ron Di Santo and Tom Steele. They're good reading, even if they don't help, but you'll find little parables and things that you can use in both of them.
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Holy crap, someone else wrote a book called "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" besides Robert Pirsig?!
Sporkman wrote:
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Go easy on him. I bet he's just overwhelmed with the computer and software. Once he starts to get used to it. He'll start to memorize all the commands and ask less stupid questions.
Zander wrote:
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Well Zander I know what situation you are in. I have been using SW since 1996 and at that time worked for a VAR. So I have had my fair share of education and support amongst other stuff when working as a VAR.
Now I am a CAD/PDM administrator at a large company with 100 seats+. In the beginning everyone took the chance to use me for basic support and education. But I was employed to administrate SW and the full SmarTeam PDM. Doing all these tasks, did that work? H-ll no.
My ten years exp. with CAD/PDM shouldn't be used to tell people what the little (F) is in asm :) Same for you I think, you would be more valuable for the company if you do what you are good at. You have exp. that the company dont have!
But of course, it's also hard to say no sometimes, at least I try to be helpful as much as time allows. Now after some time, people have accepted and understood that I actually will help the 3D investment to advance better by using my earned experience.
Try to find one or more who is better then the rest and have them be superusers. Find and train them who are interested in learning and they could take a big portion of support and education from your desk.
Well, another meeting coming up with the IT department, gotta run! (sorry for grammar and spelling --->Swedish) /Mike S
Reply to
Michael Svensson
sounds to me like you may be trying to bring him on too fast--particularly if you're expecting him to make sense of the messed-up files you've described. Troubleshooting is a relatively advanced skill.
Perhaps focus on parts for a little while, and leave the assemblies aside until he's got a better grasp?
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I also taught at a VAR as well and to me (without reading what anyone else wrote) the people that always did the best in my classes were graphic designers because they had actual windows experience. Engineers typicall only know log in and start CAD. Then moving to something that emulates a Windows program as much as SolidWorks does is very difficult for the engineers that I trained to grasp. I would send this gentleman to a Basic windows class first to learn the fine arts of: right click, using files in windows explorer, minimize, insert and tools pull down.....I could go on but teaching him these basics will really make learning SolidWorks much easier. Hope this helps.
Ken M,
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It will probably worth your while buying one of the computer base training programs for SW (eg Solid Professor) as it covers all of the basics and he can learn it (an re-watch it) at his own pace.
Merry :-)
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Merry Owen
On a visit to Malaysia, I tried to learn a little of the language. But, I didn't have much success in the 2 weeks I was there. Even people's names were difficult if they were oriental sounding. I think the sounds were just too foreign to me. Apparently the task of remembering a very foreign thing, is much harder than remembering things which use familiar components.
Perhaps another analogy is when a person is sorting mail into existing mail slots, vs. trying to do it by placing them in piles on a small desk. On the desk you quickly run out of space and try to pile some of the mail on the computer type writer, or phone, etc... but quickly start to have difficulty where each alphabet is piled. The task becomes much harder than sorting the mail where each letter already has a pre-arranced slot to store.
I suspect that learning anything on the computer is a very similar situation for a complete novice. That mysterious box just has too many new concepts for a person to organize their learning into familiar slots. It is just going to take time. But, perhaps it is important to continue to use the computer for tasks like E-mail or word processing, then as they get mastered continue to learn new things. Really, that is the way we all learned the computer.
Joe Dunfee
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I've been asked to train people before. Usually others are quite motivated, but I've never had to train anyone from ground-up like you've been asked to do.
Simple tactic: Refuse to teach anyone who is not taking notes. Perhaps get a stack of memo pads (a special color would be nice) to distribute to your "students", so they have a special place for CAD lore. Then make it a requirement to have this book present for help.
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In my experience, people who take notes on everything are trying to learn rote procedures for gettings specific tasks done. I'd prefer that they learn what the tools can do. The ability to take known quantities and synthesize them into the sulution to a problem is key to design work. If the user can't learn the tools and figure out how to apply them, then they're either overwhelmed or shouldn't be in design work.
Or maybe I'm just wierd. Some people learn by writing things down. I prefer to teach tools and strategies over procedures.
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Dale Dunn
Yaaa . . . I had corrected myself already by the time you posted. Apparently your news reader was a little slow. The authors of "Guidebook to Zen ATAOMM" are Ron Di Santo and Tom Steele. Since I don't keep many authors' names in my head (neuron limitation -- most of them having been burnt out in college) I had to refer to, and I wasn't looking carefully enough.
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Finally, after a lot of years training, I have finally figured out why some people, (often older men, and also a slight majority of women) have difficulty with learning windows based stuff. There are just to many damn icons, drop downs, dialog check boxes, and of course to many damn ways to do something. This finally came to light, when I was trying to help my wife learn a particular program. There are so many options, it is just incredibly overwhelming to some people. The reason the guy keeps asking you what the (f) is for, is when you are explaining it, he is looking around at the million other things, plus the twelve things you are zipping through at once. And his brain can't even focus on your answer. Those of us that pick this up pretty quick, usually play around, until we find a sequence or pattern that fits in our head. But basically we see all the icons, and other stuff, as things to try, whereas the ones who struggle, don't see it as fun, but rather very daunting. Especially with windows, that stuff moves around, or at least to them it does. They are paranoid, that they won't be able to find it, when they need it again. Also, most of the wizards I have worked with, are incredibly horrible teachers, and often insensitive to new learners, and a bit on the "look at me, and see all the things I can do, attitude. New learners don't give a crap about what you can do, unless you are sensitive to their lack of experience.
My wife likes things to stay in the same place, she doen't think it is FUN to go looking for them, ever. There is a woman that I work with, that HATES windows. She Loves DOS, Why, cause there is only one little blinking c:/ to look at, and she always remembers the four or five commands to make it work. give me a hammer, a pair of pliers, etc over a stupid multiwondertool any day. That's how she sees it.
If you could step back in time with this guy, and train him on like SW98 or so, there weren't even half the number of icons, functions etc. Now just look at all the crap. Many features have at least two, some have three starts! Drop down, and one or two icons. Look at all the crap that is on the right mouse button. Sure you can turn most of it off, but who ever does? The whole right mouse button is a huge mystery to a lot of new users. They say, crap, how did you do that!!! they didn't see you click it, and Wham there is a whole string of choices they have NEVER even seen before. It's like magic to them. Black Magic. So go easy on this guy, turn of all the stupid toolbars that are cluttering up the screen, and only let him see a few options. SW95 only had like what, three/four toolbars?? what are we up to now, 15 or something total toolbars? The whole interface stayed basically the same for 5-6 years, now it changes every version. For some people that is fun, a new look, more stuff to play with etc.
Zander wrote:
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After reading all posts.
There is a swedish saying(maybe you have it to) "It's hard to learn old dogs to sit" And Clay - Good post and I agree but not with all, you have good points but much of them are still your personal points.
I still want to point back at my older reply that Zander should try to more or less get rid of this task to educate newbies and do what he does best.
And Dale, I agree with you, people taking to much notes during training are they who have most trouble learning. I have had some designer ladies here at Ikea actually ask me to stop so they could draw a pic of the icon I just clicked so they would remember.
I have spent many hours on training and have seen much :) H-ll I could amuse you with stories forever.. CAD training given by me +1000 hours(h) of ACAD 2D, +1400 h Mechanical Desktop, +100 h Inventor, SW - dont dare to count.
Was a VAR since 96, but before then I was a Adesk Reseller.. Now I am finally away from all that! And the only Edu's I give now is some Smarteam ones.
Kids though are fun to learn comps and softw. Have given some training to kids between 5-10 and man they learn fast!
Well have to go, duty calls.
/Mike S (S as from sweden and also Svensson 32 y,old)
Reply to
Michael Svensson
Zander, I had a similar experience about 15 years ago with a guy who worked for me, the company had just bought Euclid (not the easiest of systems to pick up) - this guy was a good designer and he had spent nearly 30 years on the drawing board - he had never used a computer.
I sent him on the training course (3-4 weeks in total) and he came back with a fried brain!
Anyway, to cut a long story short we had a chat and agreed that the best way forward would be to ease him in gently by first of all buying a seat of ACAD LT and getting him used to working on the PC in 2D.
After a couple of months he was proficient at 2D and computer literate it wasn't long before he was pushing to give the 3D system another go.
OK so productivity was down for a couple of months but at the end of the day a good designer is a valuable asset and for us taking the time to get him up to speed was well worth it in the end.
Reply to
Kev Parkin
Hi Zander, I feel your pain. I too, have a sad story about training people in SW. I had to train three Russian co-workers in SW for 3 hours@day@3 times@week for 8 weeks. They were on AutoCAD and were kicking and screaming about having to learn 3D SW. There were all older than me (I'm 47) one woman and two men. Two of the three epitomized the saying, "You can't teach old dogs new tricks." In addition to training them SW, there language skills were not very good either. They all had about 2 - 5 years of living in America. So I had that barrier also. Not to mention that they also had no skills with simple windows commands like "copy" and Paste" and other computer skills that anyone has when working in basic windows programs.
I will say that of the three, there was one that excelled above the other two, Vadim. I am sure it is with all apprentices, some have it and some don't . Vadim, excelled farther than the rest, took it upon himself to work after hours, unpaid, with a SW training book, going through each lesson, step by step. The other things I noticed about him were these: he was very thankful to me for training him (gave me candy and other food items) this helped me help him. I won't put up with unthankful people when I am imparting knowledge and MY time to him. And he was way more humble than the other two. An finally, as opposed to the person you are training, Vadim took a LOT of notes. And he used them. I would feel that if a person didn't take notes, you may be wasting your time. That shows disrespect to you.
The lady I was training, Inna, she sometimes would ask me the same question two or three times a day. And when she went on a two week vacation and came back, I think she forgot all the training I gave her. Its like I had to show her every thing again. This didn't go well with me, and when the lay-offs came later in the year, she didn't make the cut.
I would talk to your boss if this person continues with a lackadaisical attitude about learning SW. Training is very expensive, and if this person is NOT motivated to learn SW, then he should be left to his own devices.
That's my two cents.
Dan Bovinich Energy Conversion Devices
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Dan Bovinich

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