How To Learn New Software – Step-By-Step

Recently, a friend of mine asked me to create a learning plan for him. He said that learning this new piece of software would really help in in his career and would give him lots of visibility in his organization but he did not know where to begin. He knew that I was a certified technical trainer and asked me for help. I honestly did not know much about the software he was asking me help for but I sure know how to create a learning plan so I went to work. Here are the steps that I used to create a learning plan for him and you can use these steps to create a learning plan for yourself for any software that you are trying to learn.

Step 1 – Determine Your Current Knowledge Level

Typically the users who are trying to learn something new fall in to one three skill categories; novice, intermediate and advanced. Here is how you can determine your skill level as it pertains to a particular software.

You are likely a novice if you fit the following criteria.

  • You have never used the software before but you have heard of it or seen others using it. You also may or may not be conversant in what exactly the software does.
  • You have used the software but do not understand its major functionality, how it brings value to a business and you do not use the software as part of your daily job functions.
  • You use the software as part of your job function but are not familiar with some of the more advanced features and are probably not the person a colleague comes to for help when they are looking for help on the software.

You are likely intermediate if you fit the following criteria.

  • You use the software as part of your job function and are familiar with some of the advanced functions of the software. You are probably not the go to person for help on the software but when presented with a new question or challenge regarding the software, you can read documentation and find the answer.
  • You have taken classroom or online training in the software and have received a certification in the software.

You are likely advanced if you fit the following criteria.

  • You have taken multiple training courses on the software and have multiple certifications on the software as well.
  • You are the go to person in your organization regarding questions about the software and you are regularly consulted by others regarding how best utilize the software.
  • You are familiar with most of the advanced features of the software and only need to read documentation rarely when presented with an advanced task in the software.

Step 2 – Determine Your Objective

For all three of there skills levels above, the objectives for a learning plan are likely to be different. A beginner may be looking to become conversant in the software and may perhaps be looking to gain skill in the software in order to improve their job performance. An intermediate user may be looking to become advanced and perhaps an advanced users wants to perfect his craft and is looking to do a deep-dive on a particular function of the software. Which ever of these categories you fall under, you must first determine your level and the objective of your training. My friend described himself as beginner and was looking to become advanced in order to take his career to the next level.

Step 3 – Consult Someone With Experience

In this step, you must consult someone who is at the skill level where you would like to be and ask them for help. Key questions to ask this person include

  1. What training / classes did they take.
  2. What other resources such as blogs, documentation, or YouTube channels they follow to keep their skills current.
  3. What tools and software they use on a daily basis to do their work other than the software you are attempting to learn.

Now that you have completed some basic legwork, you are ready to create a learning plan.

Step 4 – Create a Learning Plan

In this step you are going to create a learning plan. Depending on your skill level, you must adopt your learning plan to fit your need. However, these general guidelines will help you determine your learning plan.

  • Determine the courses that must go in your learning plan
  • Start by learning the basics of a particular skill and do not move to advanced levels until you are comfortable with the basics.
  • Determine how many hours out of the day and the days of the week your will dedicate to your learning
  • Communicate your intentions to your supervisor and your family. This help you keep focused, motivated and will keep you accountable for achieving your goal.
  • Start taking training and frequently re-evaluate your learning plan to determine where you are in your in your goals and adjust your plan accordingly.

Tips

Before you take any course, I recommend you follow the following best practices to get the most out of your learning

  • Spare 2 to three hours at a time to do your learning and no more than 3 hours or you will feel burnt out.
  • Whatever video/ course you are watching / taking, don’t just watch the video, try to follow along the video in your own laptop. Think of the video as a recipe that you are following.
  • Do not move on to intermediate / advanced level courses until you are comfortable with the beginner material and have completed it.

Sample Learning Plan

Below is the sample learning I developed for my friend for a software called Revit. You can read more about Revit from the official product website.

A) BEGINNER – Be sure to take this completely as starter courses cover lots of material that you may not be exposed to in the field.

Revit – Tutorial for Beginners
Revit Tutorial – Floor plans

B) After watching the above two, you are ready for the lengthy course here. Don’t be intimidated by the number of videos and be sure to do the steps in the video, not just watch the videos. Also be sure to watch every video step by step
Revit – Course Playlist
C) Now you are ready for the heavy stuff. NEVER PAY more than 15 dollars for any course on udemy. They always have sales so if it is not on sale, just wait and you will see it in sale soon enough
Revit – Beginner to Intermediate
D) Now you are ready for deep dive class work style, this make you a master. If you feel like paying for the coursera course, you can but you can audit it for free if you like.
Bim Applications for Engineers using Revit
E) Finally, if you really feel like taking your learning to the next level, subscribe to the pluralsight site and look at the following learning path. You should be done with the path in a month so after you are done with the path, you can just cancel the subscription. Not bad for 35 bucks if you ask.me
Revit – Pluralsight Learning Path

Email correspondence between me and my friend.

This should get you well on your way to learning a new skill. Have you developed a learning plan for someone? Do you need to learn a new piece of software and don’t know where to begin? Comment below and let me know if I can help you or your organization developer a learning plan.

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