What Is Quality Web-Based CAD (Computer Aided Design) Training?

Richard Cozzens


Research Background

At ETHICOMP08, I presented a paper titled “Effectiveness of Web-Based Training.” The paper was based on research I conducted while developing the CATIA V5 Workbook .com website. In this paper, I discussed the various advantages of web-based training such as the flexibility and convenience option to work at one’s own pace, and discussed the question “Why aren’t there more web-based CAD (Computer Aided Design) courses available?” (For details, see Cozzens, 2008). Methodology was Action Research where data collection included qualitative approaches which included semi-structured interviews with instructors, students and practitioners. It also included questionnaires.

Current Situation

A closer review of the overall status of the CAD industry particularly CATIA V5 revealed that the change in the economy did impact the quality of CAD web-based training in many ways. Not only this, the overall philosophy now uses “Parametric” based approach to design, which defines relationships between different entities in CAD. This outlook changed how CAD designs were created, analyzed, modified, and stored. Both the software and philosophy changes created a huge training requirement almost overnight for the entire industry.

Since 2008, I have examined the data with the aim of understanding reasons for such a change. Based on the data gathered I hope to further improve the effectiveness and quality of web-based CAD training. The main motivation for this paper came from 2009 COE Conference in Seattle, Washington. At the conference I was able to attend a meeting where training and curriculum were discussed in detail. I was able to attend and participate in this meeting because I was a Board Member of HEAT (Higher Education and Training). I was also able to interview other experts in the field, including both college and university professors as well as industry professionals. In addition, because of my CAD publications, I frequently receive feedback from users. With this feedback, I was able to sample the existing CAD web-based training sites (including hybrid training sites). I viewed and tested curriculum from numerous web-based (or hybrid) CAD training courses. As I tested these training courses, I documented both effective and ineffective methodology. In this paper, I continue to use Action Research as a method to collect data as it:

“…Aims to contribute both to the practical concerns of people in an immediate problematic situation and to further the goals of social science simultaneously. Thus, there is a dual commitment in action research to study a system and concurrently to collaborate with members of the system in changing it in what is together regarded as a desirable direction. Accomplishing this twin goal requires the active collaboration of researcher and client, and thus it stresses the importance of co-learning as a primary aspect of the research process.”

In addition to the methods for data collection mentioned earlier, surveys and more interviews will be conducted. The main advantages of using action research with qualitative approach included:

  • Obtaining a more flexible and realistic feel of the world that cannot be experienced in the numerical data and statistical analysis used in quantitative research;
  • Experiencing a more hands-on feel of the hidden factors that could poss
  • ibly be affecting the effectiveness and quality of CAD web based training;
  • Providing a holistic view of the phenomena under investigation (Patton, 1980);
  • Interacting with the research subjects in their own language and on their own terms (Kirk & Miller, 1986).

Research Question addressed in this paper are:

  • What does quality CAD web-based training involve?
  • Is quality being comprised due to the change in the CAD industries?

The above research questions will be addressed to three different sets of people: instructors, students and industry professionals. The findings of this research will contribute to the overall quality and effectiveness of CAD web-based training. In general the market has shrunk from previous years, but CAD web-based training is more viable today than ever before. Due to the present economy, companies and individuals have limited financial resources to pay for face-to-face training. Thus, the advanced web-based curriculum and technology has become a viable substitute for traditional training (Cozzens 2008). Given the recent changes in market, the need for web-based training has increased. Furthermore the competition brought up many ethical issues regarding web-based training mostly dealing with quality versus price.

I believe the shrinking market has put most of the low quality web-based CAD training sites out of business. By sampling some of the web-based CAD training sites, I was able to experience firsthand the quality of the content. The technology used in the courses has been advanced enabling more users to access the content with improved streaming options for videos, graphics, and more interactive activities. I would also assert that CAD web-based training has become a mature market which has helped to make web-based training more effective. However, my research aims to address whether the quality of such training is being compromised. If it is, what are the factors that lead to such a compromise? A closer look at the market and the existing CAD web-based training companies available to instructors, students and industry professionals will help provide the feedback to the companies how are responsible for development of the training sites.

In conclusion this research will significantly contribute to CAD web-based training by providing new insight to what factors contribute to the quality and effectiveness of this type of training.


Cozzens, Richard. “Effectiveness of Web-based Training”. Proceedings of ETHICOMP 2008, Pavia Matua, Italy.

Kirk, J., & Miller, M.L. (1986). Reliability and validity in qualitative research.

Qualitative Research Methods Series, 1. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications

Patton, M.Q. (1980). Qualitative evaluation methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.


i. http://www.CATIAV5workbook.com

ii. CATIA Operators Exchange http://www.coe.org

iii. See Thomas Gilmore, Jim Krantz and Rafael Ramirez, “Action Based Modes of Inquiry and the Host-Researcher Relationship,” Consultation 5.3 (Fall 1986): 161.