Training in collaborative IT

Judging from the recent activities of some of the leading construction collaboration technology vendors, there seems to be a fair bit of (mainly London-based) training going on at the moment:

  • 4Projects recently announced (14 March) a “new programme of training sessions designed specifically to help our users get the most from our 4Projects collaborative functionality” (no price given, courses in London);
  • Asite’s Spring newsletter announced three public training courses designed to help users “get the most out of using Asite”. (£150 per person for a half-day course in central London); and
  • Aconex was due to run a UK edition of its document control course (see post) in London today (Tuesday 22 March). This uses Aconex to help support good document control practice but (I was told by Aconex’s Frank Carron) is not solely about helping people get the most out of using Aconex.

Meanwhile, I have been developing my own ideas about a course on “Collaborative IT for construction”. I have identified four main strands to what I think should be contained in such a course; by the end of the course, learners will:

  1. understand the concept of web-based construction collaboration technologies, including the advantages of remote hosting “in the cloud” versus on-premise solutions, and be able to identify some common features shared by the leading industry platforms, plus some of the functions available as options,
  2. understand the advantages of web-based collaboration tools over traditional paper-based or email-based approaches to project team working, and know what factors need to be considered for effective implementation,
  3. looking forward, appreciate how the technology platforms might develop to incorporate new functionalities – for example, building information modelling (BIM), mobile access, lifecycle management, etc, and
  4. learn, through hands-on practical exercises, how to use the basic functions of a typical collaboration platform.

As you may see from the final item, I envisage this course being run in partnership with software vendors so that attendees can get a first-hand appreciation of how the tools work. I think this type of course also needs to be shared among the leading SaaS vendors, and that the content will need to be regularly updated to take account of new developments in the collaboration space, with BIM, mobile, etc.

What do you think? Is this a course that would appeal to you? If you were tasked with managing project information across a multi-disciplinary, multi-company team (perhaps working in multiple geographically dispersed locations), would this help? Would you prefer more product-oriented courses run by a vendor? Or is there a place for both – one to help you choose a platform/vendor, and another to help you “get the most” out of your chosen platform?

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