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Publish instructor led training lecture and exercise manuals online in PDF format - ArcSDE, ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Desktop

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  • Lecture and exercise manuals for Esri's instructor led trainining often contain great content not included in other Esri documentation. Please consider following Oracle's lead and publish these online for free in PDF format. Those without a training budget or time to formally attend classes will thank you.

    While the classes themselves are terrific, and much of the value comes from instructor/student interaction (naturally), the training manuals are fantastic references. They would be great advertisements for the courses themselves (for those with training budgets who may not yet be convinced of their value).

    This would also help students who've taken Esri instructor led classes in the past for a particular product but would like a refresh on the latest product iteration. It's often tough to justify taking the same course for a later iteration of the same product--and ArcSDE is a great example where you want to keep up.

    The least you could do is disaggregate and sell the training manuals separately apart from the training. The manuals are that good--at least in the case of the ArcSDE classes, they stand very well on their own.

    And finally... Giving a product away may not look great on a balance sheet. But consider the intangible value of more customers understanding complex Esri products more clearly and deeply. Priceless. Don't step over dollars to pick up pennies here.
    Tags :
     training manuals, arcgis server, arcsde, pdf
    Posted by   dananrg  to Training Ideas May 27, 2011

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Comments (12)

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Dec 18, 2013
I actually think that more ESRI trainings should be free, or at the very least, much cheaper. We pay a tremendous amount in license/maintenance fees annually -- why should we have to pay small fortunes just to use the products(s) effectively? It feels like we're constantly getting nickled and dimed to death.

Yes, at the very least, all training documentation should be available for download and for FREE. I've had similar experiences where I've paid for classes (both online and in person) in versions that I no longer use -- having the ability to see updated manuals would be a huge help in my productivity and workflow. This should similarly apply to being able to retake an online course in a new version for free.

The freebies are nice, but as you say, they generally don't provide the detail that I need. Heck, if Help was really helpful, I'd need even less training, but that's not the case most of the time (i.e. ArcGIS Online). I work for a State agency, and our training budget is practically non-existant -- $1500 for an online instructor-led course, where I don't have to pay for travel/lodging, is still prohibitive. I don't like being penalized in my ability to grow and learn because we lack funds.

If ESRI is set against publishing the training materials so that those who haven't attended a class can get a copy, could they at least provide PDF/hardcopies of their documentation?

May 18, 2012
@Riverside, please post the link to your idea here when you create it. It's a good one. I sympathize with having spent the resources to take a class, then having new material appear shortly after. But I don't know if Esri would institute this as a policy.

Have you asked about getting updated manials as a a "one off" request from your local Esri rep if this is something that happened to you or a colleague recently?

May 10, 2012
Seems to me, that if a student takes a class on say Python, then a month later a new python class is offered, there should be window of opportunity for those users who take a class within that buffer to receive the new class for free as a pdf.  This would be akin to purchasing software, and getting a maintenace on the future releases of the software for a certain amount of time, but in this case, they would have a 60 day window, where if a class is brought out within that window, the end user would receive the update but only the end users that took a class within the time window.  This mostly happens around software releases, where I take a python class on arcgisscripting. then a month later they are offering classes that teach arcpy.  Complementary
but different to say the least.  I will post as an idea.

Dec 1, 2011
We have taken several ESRI training courses and although fairly informative, the provided material is definitly lacking. We have heard great things about and perhaps ESRI should follow their model...

Oct 26, 2011
Hi Jan,

Students enrolled in an Esri course receive Esri course materials. We do not offer them for sale.


Oct 5, 2011
I need ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server training material  such as:
1. ArcGIS Desktop III
2. Craeting and publishing maps with ArcGIS
3. Managing Imagery with ArcGIS
4. Introduction to ArcGIS Server

Please send me a way how can I buy these training meterial.


Aug 27, 2011
I see the points accumulating but no additional comments from other users. If you feel this idea would be of value to you, please add comments and provide your thoughts and use cases. Quantitative feedback (votes) are nice. But don't forget the qualitative--your specific thoughts on the Idea.

Of course with no email ability to track new comments, the Ideas site is currently a lot less useful that, say, it's easy to subscribe to a thread and receive email alerts on change events (e.g. new replies get posted). If you'd like the same "subscribe" functionality you get on the forums (vBulletin software) here on, please vote. And if you have time, add a comment along with your vote. Votes, unless they arrive in massive quantities, are a bit lifeless:

Add the ability to "watch" an idea

Since it seems Esri cannot simply enable this "email watch" functionality (it doesn't exist), be sure to also vote on the idea with the vendor who created the Ideas module uses (

Add ability to subscribe to an idea, receiving email notification on any change

Jun 5, 2011
Thanks for the article reference. The greater emphasis on concepts vs. pushing buttons is a home run, so congrats there. But the more interactive format may not work for everyone. Those already highly motivated to attend training may prefer more content to time-costly group activities.

While I'm sure a multimodality training approach has value (supported by current research), it sounds a bit gimmicky. Books that engage multiple senses like O'Reilly and Associates "Head First" series are interesting. But those are self-paced and unconstrained by time. I don't think I would enjoy it in a classroom. My experience is that group activities don't always lead to deeper and more enduring insights or better content retention. And instructor-as-facilitator (vs. lecturer) may be more appropriate for requirements gathering workshops than training.

When you say new courses are being added to the Virtual Campus, do you mean the instructor led training content is being mirrored in non-instructor led self-study courses? If so, kudos.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comments and good luck with your new interactive instructor led training approach. I hope it better fits the majority of your students. I hope further that you receive sufficient feedback (both pro and con) to properly assess whether this is indeed the correct ILT approach. I'm delighted that you're reevaluating your training offerings. However, I still think you should consider making the instructor led training materials freely available, sell them separately, or offer low cost, self-paced versions of instructor led courses (with as much or more content). I'd be happy with any or all of those approaches.

Jun 1, 2011
Hi Dana,


It's wonderful to hear a user be so complimentary about our training materials.

We absolutely do strive to create better training experiences and materials with every Esri software release. ArcGIS Server Enterprise Configuration and Tuning for Oracle is the most recent (version 10) instructor-led course on the topic you reference, and its course materials are different than the ones used for the 9.x version of the course, which perhaps you attended. In fact, we introduced a new instructor-led course design at version 10 that incorporates a lot of interactive learning activities--this ArcWatch article describes our new approach, which we continue to refine.

The article also describes our current workbook design--which unfortunately we were not able to apply to the ArcSDE course materials for version 10 but we will for version 10.1. In any event, a new version of a course is usually not the exact same content as the previous version; in the case of ArcGIS 10, most instructor-led courses are different from their predecessors. And for the upcoming 10.1 release, they will be different again. As the software evolves, we evolve with it. 
Regarding Virtual Campus web courses, we are releasing new ones every week, with many more in development right now. Hopefully, these will help meet the need you describe. Maybe we can't think entirely outside the polygon, but it's users like you who keep us trying. Thanks.

Jun 1, 2011
Hi Suzanne,

Thanks for your kind and thoughtful reply.

> By themselves, the workbooks aren't enough to fully understand when/how/why to use specific features
> and tools in Esri products. We don't think giving them away is the best way to help users be successful.

I don't think Esri's training materials are inferior to Oracle's. Yet Oracle Corp evidently feels it's a great value to its customers to provide its training manuals to everyone. And while I can't speak to all Esri instructor led training materials, I respectfully disagree regarding the ArcSDE course manuals. The ArcSDE for Oracle materials in particular are exceptionally well written and reasonably comprehensive.

Users vary by experience and sophistication with products--the same user may have different needs at different times. What you say may apply to some users and not others. This doesn't speak to the need for GIS professionals who've taken instructor led training in the past but can't cost-justify re-taking the same instructor led course for the same product. None of the options you cited meet this need for a cost-efficient refresh.

Having access to current training materials would be immensely helpful. I dont think Esri is doing its customers any service by protecting them from themselves if that's the implication. The chief goal should be promoting more understanding of Esri products. Publishing the training manuals would support that goal.

I don't think anyone, for example, believes that following Oracle's training manuals separate from class lectures is giving them 100% of the course content. Or that reading a textbook and lab manual is identical to attending a college course. But it's quite a lot. There's a great user community for asking questions about what one doesn't understand. Esri has great discussion forums and a passionate user community. Have you heard of MIT's Open Courseware? There are great opportunities for self-study out there.

> But you're right, a lot of GIS professionals are challenged with budget and time constraints. To help with
> those challenges, we offer other ways to get free or very affordable self-paced training, such as Free
> training seminars:

I've been able to take advantage of free Virtual Campus web courses as part of a State ELA. While indeed it's low priced (free in my case), I've felt the content was not sufficiently deep to be helpful to me personally. Further, there is a disconnect between courses offered in the Virtual Campus and instructor led training. When last I checked, the stuff of most interest to me was available only in instructor led training. A good compromise might be to build-up the Virtual Campus courses so they mirror what's offered for instructor led training.

> Free training seminars

These are welcome. But not sufficiently long or detailed in comparison to instructor led training.

> Esri Press

Looking forward to reading the copy of Modeling Our World I just purchased. However, it was first published 10 years ago. Book publishing cycles differ from training material publishing cycles. Where's the ArcSDE book? Where's the ArcGIS Server (web services) book? I encourage more titles like Building a GIS.
I'd love to see Esri Press publish less map books and more nuts-and-bolts "how to" titles that help us all get our jobs done.

I hope Esri Thinks Outside The Polygon with training and expands the availability and pricing of its educational content. I welcome the gestures that have been made so far. But Esri can do even better, can't it?

Jun 1, 2011
Thanks for the great feedback about Esri instructor-led training materials--we're thrilled the course manual is such a useful reference for you. That being said, we don't design instructor-led workbooks as stand-alone references. They support a classroom learning experience where, as you mentioned, the instructor-student interaction (and student-student interaction) is the primary focus. Instructor-led training is not about the book. By themselves, the workbooks aren't enough to fully understand when/how/why to use specific features and tools in Esri products. We don't think giving them away is the best way to help users be successful. 

But you're right, a lot of GIS professionals are challenged with budget and time constraints. To help with those challenges, we offer other ways to get free or very affordable self-paced training, such as:
  • Free training seminars- live broadcasts every month on a different topic; recordings of live broadcasts are available for free on the Esri Training website. A PDF transcript comes with the recordings.
  • Virtual Campus web courses- free courses on a variety of topics; paid courses start at US$32.
  • Esri Press- publishes workbooks designed specifically for self-directed learning.
  • ArcGIS Resource Center- provides a host of free materials to help users work effectively with Esri products.
Thanks again for your feedback.



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