Monday, 12 September 2011

BIM and Integrated Design - a new book by Randy Deutsch

Friend of KnowledgeSmart, Randy Deutsch, has written a fantastic new book, called, 'BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice'.

Unlike many of the recent books and manuals on BIM, this book is devoted to the subject of how BIM affects individuals and organizations working within the construction industry.

As one of the most popular speakers and presenters on the AEC circuit, Randy is well placed to comment on the journey that many firms are currently making towards BIM adoption.  In his book, Randy discusses the implementation of building information modeling software as a cultural process with a focus on the technology’s impact and transformative effect—both potentially disruptive and liberating—on the social, psychological, and practical aspects of the workplace.

BIM and Integrated Design answers the questions that BIM poses to the firm that adopts it. Through thorough research and a series of case study interviews with industry leaders, this book helps us learn:

•  Effective learning strategies for fully understanding BIM software and its use
•  Key points about integrated design to help you promote the process to owners and your team
•  How BIM changes not only the technology, process, and delivery but also the leadership playing field
•  How to become a more effective leader no matter where you find yourself in the organization or on the project team
•  How the introduction of BIM into the workforce has significant education, recruitment, and training implications

Covering all of the human issues brought about by the advent of BIM into the architecture workplace, profession, and industry, BIM and Integrated Design shows how to overcome real and perceived barriers to its use.

Click here for a link to Wiley's website, for more information and to order a copy of Randy's book.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Links to Learning

An important theme for KnowledgeSmart this year, is 'Links to Learning'. That is, making the connection between highlighted skills gaps and corresponding training content, as simple a journey as possible for KS customers.

The latest KS release takes an important step along the path to achieving closer links to relevant, targeted, training material.

Here is a summary of how AEC firms can now display focused, modular training content, as part of their skills assessment results analysis.

We have added a new stage to the question create/edit process, called 'Learning material'.

From here, KS admins can link modular training material to their KS question library. The key is to map the training content to the training tags (meta data) for each question. The training content can be a variety of formats.  For example in-house training notes, PDF help-sheets, Intranet pages, etc. Or, alternatively, training material from a 3rd party, such as video tutorials or web based training.  KS admins can use the text box to add notes or web links and the file upload tool to assign files or video links.  (NB to ensure that any web links open in a new browser, please use the 'Insert/Edit URL link' icon, enter the relevant web address(es) and select 'New window' in the dropdown).

Next, there is a new option in Settings > Test Feedback, called 'Feedback, Coaching & Learning on Report'.

Checking this option, will prompt a new section to display in the user test report, at the end of their test session.  From here, users can access the wider training content, relating to questions where they dropped marks. So the idea is that, KS Coaching notes provide feedback on each specific task. Whilst Learning notes provide broader feedback on the topic being covered by each question.

We are in discussion with a number of 3rd party training providers, to map their learning material, to the topics being covered by KS skills assessments, across a range of software titles.  In the Results > Training Requirements page, we have listed a number of training providers, who are developing modular content, which can map to the KS training tags.  (KS is not a reseller for any of these companies, but we are working together to provide closer links to their respective courseware solutions).

This development is another important step along the road to achieving a continuously improving journey, between assessment and learning.


Managing your Users

We recently updated the Users section of the KS dashboard.  Here is a guide to the new features.

When you log into your KS dashboard, you'll see some new sections in your menu sub-navigation:

It is worth pointing out that changes made to the user data in your dashboard, do not affect your results data. This is simply an area where you can manage your user information.

Adding Users

There are a number of ways to add user records to your dashboard.  First, when you send assessment invites, the user record is automatically added to your user list (unless it is already present, in which case it will not be duplicated).

Next, you can go to the 'New User' page and add individual records from here.

Third, we have improved the way that user records can be uploaded via csv file.  You can also export your user data as well.  Go to 'Import/Export User Data'.  In the Help notes box, you will find a link to a formatted sample csv template.

Save the template and copy across your user list from MS Excel, using the same 10 columns that you see in the template.  They are: Email, First name, Last name, Status, Datafields 1-5 and Additional Information.

Browse for your csv file and use the 'Import User Data' tool to upload your new user list.

Please not that if you don't use the correct format on your csv file, then the KS system will not accept the imported file.

You can also export your user list to csv, using the 'Export User Data' tool.

Additional Datafields

You can capture 5 additional fields of information for each user, by selecting the magnifying glass icon, next to the user record.

When you click the magnifying glass tool, you will see a dropdown display, where you can edit a number of fields, including changing the status of a user (i.e. from Interviewee to Employee, or Employee to Ex-Employee).

You can use the information captured in the 5 datafields to filter your assessment results, in the Results page of your dasboard.

You can add custom labels to the 5 datafields, by going to Settings > User Datafields. Input your new labels and hit 'Save'.  When you go back to the Users page and view individual records (by selecting the magnifying glass tool), the new labels will display against each user.

Filtering User Records

We have added searching and grouping functionality to the Users page, to make it easier for KS admins to filter their user data and create sub groups of user records. This is especially useful, when inviting different teams to take a skills assessment.

Select the 'Show search' and 'Show groups' tools, on the orange bar located at the top of the user page.

This opens up two new fields, where you can search against a number of user parameters, including, name, username, email, user status and the 5 additional datafields.

When you have run your search, select the user records by checking the box next to the user name (the top box is a 'select all' option). Then enter your group name in the 'Create New Group' field and select 'Create'.

You can view your new groups by selecting the dropdown field, in the Groups table. You can also add/remove new users to/from existing groups.

Inviting Groups

To invite a sub-group of users to take a KS skills assessment, go to the Groups table, select the group in the dropdown, check the box(es) next to the names of your invitees and hit the 'Invite selected users' button.

This will pre-populate your user list on the assessment Invites page. Just edit your invite text and email header and hit 'Send Email'.

So managing KS user data is now even easier. Remember, changes made to your user records have no direct impact on your live results data.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Evolve - Training Help Sheets for MicroStation and AutoCAD

Leading CAD & BIM Consultancy, Evolve, led by Principal Nigel Davies, have developed an excellent training resource for AEC firms using MicroStation and AutoCAD software.

Designed to align with the keywords and meta tags associated with the assessment questions in the KnowledgeSmart library, AEC firms can now deliver high quality, targeted training material to their teams, matching precisely with highlighted skills gaps, for a fraction of the price of traditional AutoCAD or MicroStation training courses.

This is another important step in our aim to provide Links to Learning, across a range of popular AEC technical software applications.

For more details, go to and request a free sample.


White Frog - Modular Courseware for Revit

As part of our 'Links to Learning' development, we have been working closely with the team at White Frog Publishing, to write new assessment content for Revit, across the 3 core disciplines (Architecture, Structure & MEP).

The Principals of WF have exceptional industry pedigree.  Peter Routledge was MD of Tekla UK and has a huge amount of experience in the AEC sector.  Paul Woddy is one of the UK’s leading independent Revit authors and trainers, having been involved with the product since the very early days, before it was acquired by Autodesk.

The WF training materials cover 13 core modules, plus a further 6 discipline-specific topics.  Similarly, the KS assessments present 95 new questions, across these 19 modular areas.  The first new module, Revit Architecture 2012, goes live next week.  The questions are written to comply with the AEC (UK) BIM Standard.

The idea, very simply, is to dovetail the KS results and highlighted skills gaps, into the appropriate modular courseware developed by WF.  Unlike other Revit training resources, or video tutorials, the WF content is intended for instructor-led training and designed with the trainer in mind, whether a full-time professional trainer or a part-time internal trainer, it includes all the tools to deliver high quality consistent training for AEC firms. In addition to delegate notes, the trainer gets access to trainer notes, slideshows and datasets to support the lectures, as well as more datasets, drawings and AVI videos to support the practical exercises.

For more details, go to and register for a web demo.

By the close of the year, our intention is to create assessments for RAC 2012 (metric & Imperial), RST 2012 (metric & Imperial) and RMEP 2012 (metric & Imperial).  More information and live product demonstrations of the combined assessment & training solution from KS & WF will be on display at Autodesk University.


Content Studio - a new way to manage Revit Families

Managing Revit Families is one of those thorny subjects that perplexes even the most BIM-savvy AEC firms.

Chris Senior, Principal of Revit Factory, has created a brilliant new tool for helping AEC firms to manage their Revit content.  I have had the pleasure of working with Chris for a number of years.  He is one of the most experienced independent Revit consultants and trainers in the UK, and a regular contributing author to the KS assessment library.

Content|Studio is a digital library solution used to collect, manage and share Revit Families in a quality controlled environment. Now, AEC firms can file and index all their Revit files in one consistent electronic filing structure.

Chris explains, 'The advantages in efficiency will repay the investment made by a firm in months rather than years.  Content|Studio offers much more than a conventional filing system; information is stored in an intelligent quality controlled library making it easy to capture, manage, share and use Revit files'.

For more details, click here and register for a free demo.


Friday, 2 September 2011

CADsmart software - end of an era

Some nine years ago, we started developing software plug-ins for AutoCAD and MicroStation, which delivered a practical skills assessment experience, linking to the API of the Autodesk & Bentley applications.

This was a successful formula for many years.  But, as is often the case with technology, time moves on and, particularly with the impact of BIM on the AEC sector, we realised that we needed a more flexible approach, in order to embrace the future direction of our industry, with respect to skills assessment.

We also experienced many headaches trying to keep up with API changes across a broader range of tools, such as Revit, Civil 3D, Bentley Architecture, Rhino, the list goes on.

Hence the KnowledgeSmart web based testing format was created a couple of years ago and continues to thrive, in spite of the challenging economic backdrop.

So, it is with mixed feelings that we announce the official 'retirement' of the 'CADsmart' suite of tools, at the end of September.  Farewell old friend.



Breaking news..

KnowledgeSmart and AUGI will be working together to provide a broader range of assessment topics for this year’s AUGI Top DAUG skills contest, at Autodesk University, in November.

In recent years, the contest has focused exclusively on AutoCAD 2D skills.  However, for the 2011 Las Vegas conference, we will be expanding the range of topics to include, Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, Revit MEP, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Inventor, 3ds Max (and, yes, AutoCAD 2D will still be represented!).

Based on our recent experiences, delivering a successful formula for the RTC Revit Top Cat contests in Australia and the US, we are confident that the new Top DAUG format will be a hit with AU regulars.

Contestants will be presented with a mix of knowledge and task based questions, using the 2011 release of Autodesk’s most popular AEC software applications. Because the range of titles is so diverse, there will be no grand final this year.  Just a straight shoot-out, for the title of Top DAUG for each vertical!

As for rumours of a heavyweight Revit title fight, between the RTC Top Cat and the AUGI Revit Top Daug, at the time of writing, we can neither confirm nor deny this story... J

More to follow on this topic in the months ahead.