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SOLIDWORKS Training: Pros and Cons of Online and In-Person Classes

Whether you need to start with the basics of SolidWorks or need specialized instruction in advanced functions, Fisher/Unitech's 3DU program offers a wide variety of classes and options for learning. We offer a traditional classroom experience at any of our 14 offices, online training for remote learning from anywhere you happen to be, and even a mobile lab that can come to your location, complete with a professor, to teach you on-site. One of our fantastic online instructors wanted to break down the primary differences between online and in-person instruction and explain the pros and cons of each.

My primary responsibility at Fisher/Unitech is online training.  I am writing this blog today because I believe that many people don't know how our online instruction works.  Let's look at comparisons between the two and help you decide which type of training is right for you.

TIME
In-class - 8:30am to 4:30pm with an hour lunch.  This translates into about 7 hours of training for the day.  Keep in mind this includes time for exercises in between chapters.

Online - One day of in-house instructions usually translates into three days of online instructions.  The time per day varies a bit by class, but most classes run during one or more of these times:  9am-11am, 9am-11:30am, or 2pm to 4pm.  We have also started offering evening classes that run 6pm-8:30pm.

For instance:  CAD110 SolidWorks Essentials
In-Classroom: 4 Days @ 7 hours each
Online: 8 Sessions @ 2.5 hours each

METHOD OF INSTRUCTION
In-class - Cover a chapter, then do the exercises.  Repeat as you move through the book. You may cover one to three chapters in the morning and then the same for the afternoon.  Due to time constraints, as chapters progress and exercises become harder, you may not be able to get through all of them.  You can ask questions of your instructor as he/she teaches the chapter and during the exercises.  In most instances you will watch the instructor for the chapter lessons and then attempt the exercises at the end.
Online - Cover two chapters for each session.  You will watch the instructor for the chapter lessons and then leave the meeting to initially try the exercises on your own.  Fortunately, you have plenty of time to fit in the exercises between class sessions.  You can ask questions of your instructor as he/she teaches the chapter.  You can also call or email the instructor after the class session has ended.  He or she can call or email you back with answers to your questions, and can also meet online at the classroom site again to work it out in real-time. If you are having a problem on your machine, we can look at it with our support software and assist you remotely.  Classes are recorded, you can review them for up to two months at any time.
More Pros and Cons

In class -

Pro:

  • Classes are completed more quickly
  • No work distractions (unless you leave your phone on)
  • Face to face instruction

Cons:

  • Travel and potentially lodging if you can't commute to one of our offices every day
  • Time out of the office
  • Long sessions
Online -

Pro:

  • Comfort from anywhere: office if you need to still be available for work, home, backyard, during travel... anywhere with a high-speed internet connection will do
  • Minimal work-time intrusion
  • Recorded class sessions available for review

Cons: 

  • Not face to face in person (though it can be "face to face" online with videoconferencing tools)
  • Takes a little more time for instructor response to questions
CONCLUSION
While everyone learns in different ways, I believe the methods by which we deliver our online training puts it on equal (if not better, in my humble opinion) footing with in-class instruction.  I believe the fact that you get so much more time for exercises and questions between sessions far outweighs the lack of visibly seeing an instructor and having them physically assist you if you have questions or problems, since we can still do this online with our meeting software.
If you have any more questions about our online training, please email us at education@fisherunitech.com.
Rod Harper
Application Engineer Instructor