[Bf-education] Re: Standard course material for blender

Glen Moyes metsys at icubenetwork.com
Tue Apr 11 21:35:39 CEST 2006

I've thought a lot about how we can better teach users how to use 
Blender and instructors on how to teach, and not have to rewrite 
everything when a new feature comes out. For those that are new, you 
might want to look at my proposal for restructuring the documentation:


In short, we add a Theory volume; a page that describes that chapter in 
the users manual in plain English so they understand the concept behind 
a feature in Blender before they are taught how to do it in the software 
(the Manual volume).

I've been teaching Blender workshops to college students for almost a 
year now, and I've found that it is best to spend an hour or so teaching 
the concepts first, and then teach how to do it in the software. They 
need to understand why they are doing something a certain way. Right now 
the documentation is just "how to do something in the software" and not 
so much the theory behind modeling (sketching, preparation, topology, 
edge loops, etc.). So if we simply add a link to a "theory and concepts" 
page for each chapter, then users can learn better, and teachers can use 
that information to teach. If we want to add another volume in a chapter 
for instructions on how instructors should teach a subject, like 
information on what methods you should use, and what concepts most 
students have troubles with, then we can add that.

The idea is to make a universal manual with enough information for 
people completely new to 3D, existing users, power users, and 
instructors to get the information they want. All the pages will be in 
there, but depending on the purpose of your visit to the Blender Wiki, 
when you go through a chapter, you just don't read the other pages that 
are linked to if you are not interested in it. A power user will just 
read the Manual volume on a chapter, just to refresh their memory. A new 
user will read the Theory and Manual volumes, and possibly the Text 
Tutorial and Video Tutorial volumes if it still doesn't sink in. 
Instructors will read the Teaching, Theory and Manual volumes. So, users 
decide what sections they need to read. That way if a feature changes, 
you only rewrite the Manual volume, because none of the other volumes 
(Teaching, Theory) will have information on how a function works.

I hope that makes sense. I'll probably do a full write up with pictures 
and stuff to better get the point across, but this is a solution to the 
problem, and won't require anyone to complete rewrite anything, just add 
a link to the other volumes that talk about that same chapter.

As far as the "level of the course," as in beginner or advanced, I don't 
really think there should be a difference in the way you teach a 
subject, or how much detail you get into. If you are going to teach 
modeling, teach them all the modeling tools. The difference between a 
beginner and advanced modeler is in how well they understand good 
topology. But I would consider some things to be advanced features, like 
particle effects, soft bodies, fluid simulation, etc. That is why I 
don't teach those kinds of features in my workshops anymore. I'll teach 
them modeling until they know everything that a pro Blender user would 
know about the software, and then move on. Take it slow and steady. I 
wouldn't just go over basics of modeling, then just go over basics of 
animation, and then just go over basics of ... and then go back to 
teaching modeling again to fill in all the things you missed that are 
essential to know if someone wants to be a good modeler.

- Glen Moyes

Luis Belerique wrote:
> Hello Gerhard,
> I agree that we should use text of the user´s manual, after all the best way
> to keep it standard os using the official documentation, but shouldn´t we
> adapt it somewhat to the level of the course?
> I'm saying this because i'm thinking of actually making two courses, the
> basic and a more advanced one in the future, but you probably are thinking
> the same way...
> I think i understand your question, but i don´t know another way than the
> hard way, that is, when the user manual is updated, "putting" the new info
> manually and adapt it in the course material.
> I suppose you're referring to this, no?
> On 4/9/06, Gerhard Just Olsen <cinmay at onlineblendereducation.com> wrote:
>> Cooperating with the blender user manual.
>> How can we best cooperate the effort of creating the standard course
>> material
>> with the blender user manual?
>> I'm currently working on the introduction to the course and I was thinking
>> that we can reuse a lot if not all of the text from the blender user
>> manual
>> introduction.
>> What is the best way of doing this without creating duplicate information
>> that
>> is hard to maintain?

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