Perhaps you didn’t hear, but last week ArcGIS 10.1 was released. The 10.1 release represents a milestone in how GIS professionals and others create, access, and interact with geographic data, resources, and maps. This release really is a game-changer in many ways.
So we’ve been feeling the need to up our game over here in Training Services. Over the last year, as ArcGIS 10.1 development was well underway, we invested a ton of hours to take stock of exactly what we do and re-envision how we can do it better moving forward.
Not because there was something wrong with what we were doing, but because being the best requires conscientious attention to continual improvement. It involves listening to our customers when they ask questions and tell us what they need. It involves staying in tune with technology innovations. We strive to be the best, and below is our game plan to offer the best-in-class training to help our users be successful.
Last year we conducted a comprehensive review of our entire instructor-led curriculum. We discovered that some of our courses covered similar topics in similar depth but with a slightly different spin, and this was confusing to customers who were trying to figure out which course to take. In many cases, consolidating overlapping content into one new course made a lot of sense. Making things simpler is one of the storylines of ArcGIS 10.1 and it’s something we’re a fan of too—so part of our game plan is offering a smaller, more focused instructor-led curriculum to make it simpler for you to figure out which course is most relevant to your needs.
The way people interact with ArcGIS products and applications has changed and will continue to do so. We can no longer confidently say we have “desktop users” and “server users.” What we have are users who interact with ArcGIS and GIS content in lots of different ways, just as they communicate with their coworkers and friends in lots of different ways these days. Our courses need to acknowledge and support multiple ArcGIS touch points.
Instructor-led courses for ArcGIS 10.1 are designed to help you master key skills and best practices to visualize, analyze, and manage geographic data across the ArcGIS system. Class activities, discussions, and exercises cover desktop, server, online, and mobile platforms. The goal is to support real-world workflows in which geographic content is created and accessible from many different channels, so that a wider audience can get the content they need when they need it.
We introduced a new instructor-led course design at ArcGIS 10.0 and we’ve refined and built on this design. An ArcGIS 10.1 class experience is not your boss’s ArcInfo class experience. Our courses now fully incorporate adult learning principles to provide an engaging, interactive class experience that promotes learning application and retention. The instructor no longer lectures, she leads and facilitates. Group discussions and activities enrich the experience and support peer-to-peer learning—because we know that students sharing stories of their work successes and challenges holds tremendous learning value for the entire class.
Speaking of instructors…we are proud to have a pool of talented professionals who are consistently given outstanding ratings by their students. Simply put, a good instructor makes a class; a bad instructor breaks a class. Our students have overwhelmingly told us the instructor made their class a valuable and enjoyable experience.
Every Esri instructor has achieved at least one Esri technical certification, many have achieved multiple certifications. Every Esri instructor has also achieved CompTIA CTT+ certification, which covers core instructor skills (preparation, presentation, communication, facilitation, and evaluation) in both traditional and online classrooms.
Taking a class is great, but if learning isn’t applied, it’s a waste of time. After class, we want our students to have a useful reference that encapsulates the recommended workflows and best practices that were emphasized in class. We have redesigned our instructor-led course workbooks to include more conceptual information and value-added content so students don’t have to rely solely on their memories and hastily scribbled notes once they’re back at the office.
Virtual Campus Self-Paced Training
So our instructor-led game plan revolves around simplifying our offerings, teaching content that covers best practices for accomplishing real-world workflows, engaging students in meaningful learning activities by leveraging our instructors’ expertise, and providing high-quality materials for after-class support. What about our web game plan?
Thousands of users take Virtual Campus web courses every month. Some have time or budget constraints, while others prefer independent learning at their own pace. Whatever the reason, web courses are a popular way to learn and we don’t want to fix something that ain’t broke. The basic strategy of our web game plan is to continue doing more of what works.
For ArcGIS 10.1 we’re in the process of developing web courses that supplement and extend instructor-led courses, provide focused training for specific GIS tasks, and support those who need immediate, just-in-time training. At ArcGIS 10.0 we introduced a web course design that features interactive conceptual material, video demonstrations, and hands-on exercises. This design has been very well received and it’s staying until we come up with something better.
Just as we did when ArcGIS 10.0 was released, we’re doing a series of live training seminars that cover different aspects of the ArcGIS 10.1 release. The seminars are recorded and available for free viewing on the Esri Training website a few days after the live broadcast.
ArcGIS 10.1 has given us the opportunity to think of new ways to help our users be successful, and we’re excited about that. But if your organization won’t be upgrading to ArcGIS 10.1 for a while, don’t think we’ve left you behind. Our most popular instructor-led courses for ArcGIS 10.0 will continue to be available, and on the web side, we have many courses that will help you work productively with previous ArcGIS releases.