Attention Teachers- How can we help and support you to teach Rhino?

A related topic to the Student topic pinned here:

We are in active discussion about how we can help and support Teachers for Rhino. This can include commercial trainers, but we are mainly focused on Schools here.

  • What can we do to help support your curriculum development?
    -What is missing that you need, or would help to develop your curriculum?
    -Are you using our content for your classes, and related, can you even find our content? (you tube, help files, etc? )
    -what are the pain points with each new student class, and how can we help ease that pain?
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I’m not a teacher in a school but I’ll share my experience with the teachers I had. I got a Rhino class in university by a teacher on the edge of retirement - having worked all his life at the university. He didn’t really know anything about rhino and his classes consisted of exercises where he provides screenshots of the different steps for doing the exercise, while in the mean time (which I later found out) he was actually just following along the exercises in the rhino training manual.
Whenever you’d ask him about doing something that was not part of the exercises he’d say he’ll get back to you on that, to then never come back to it and hoping you’d forgotten about it. For me, as a product design student, I also didn’t really understand why I’m drawing ducks & penguins, something which I never had the need for during my courses.

After 2 years the university decided to switch to Solidworks with a different new teacher, perhaps half the age of the rhino teacher and actually working in the field. Giving us practical examples and exercises from his work experience. After the solidworks classes I’ve gotten I thought Rhino was shit.

Flash forward to graduating and being inspired by the possibilities of Grasshopper (And seeing the price of Solidworks vs Rhino) I decided to give Rhino (or rather Grasshopper) another chance. I was doing a lot of things in grasshopper without knowing there’s a command in rhino that does the exact same thing. It was only then, with help from the rhino forum, that I started seeing the actual value of Rhino.

So the thing is, rhino is used in so many different fields which each have their own specific needs and workflows. The rhino training manual is trying to cover a bit of all those different fields meaning all the different fields are doing a bunch of exercises seemingly irrelevant for them.
Ideally I think you’d have a training manual which teaches Rhino focused on each specific field. This will become of course a lot more work to keep everything updated as new versions are being made but for teaching and for learning I think it will makes things more relevant and therefore easier to learn (because as a student you are not asking yourself why you are doing something you don’t need, even though the command might be relevant for something you do need). How to integrate that into the tutorials command is another can of worms.

I think the Rhino training manual in general could benefit from a few less “toy-like” exercises and more common realistic (but still inspiring) examples, but maybe that’s just me.

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This is a very interesting idea, but as you say, it’s a lot of work.

Yes to this as well - some of the stuff has been in the training manuals since Rhino 1.0.

This problem mainly concerns the institutions and how they handle teaching assignments. Having people teach a subject (any subject) they know nothing about is always a bad idea…

Most of the teachers I know that are genuinely concerned about the quality of their classes invent their own exercises or at the very least adapt the training manual exercises to their specific needs.

I had the occasion to help out with a trainer’s level one class a couple of months ago. They were surprised that I didn’t know virtually any of the exercises in the manual. True, I have never really gone through it, I always rolled my own.

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Make fillets bombproof. Like Plasticity level of bombproof. Even if that means the product will cost more, there’s a huge gap between expected behavior and real world behavior with fillets and blending in Rhino, and it makes it harder to teach. When it comes to finishing off models, the knowledge needed to actually blend something down is higher than it should be and makes Rhino much more difficult to teach.

ETA - I rarely - I dare say never - use fillets on anything that’s a freeform surface model anymore. I think there’s a lot of instances where students think they want to use a fillet - say on the junction between a wing root and a fuselage - where it’s better done as an explicit patch model with full manual control. But the knowledge base to do this, and the toolset (VSR or Cybertrack are both critical) is more like a level 3 type of thing. So it’s a very teachable thing with the right tools and knowledge, but it’s much more advanced than a new student might be able to wrap their head around. So for new users, Fillets need to work, and work much better than they have for the last few decades.

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great feedback, thank you!

I’m seeing a theme develop… thanks for this-

Hey @theoutside

I know this fillet thing has been discussed ad infinitum, but it does cause consistent confusion and stress from learners. Here’s another take on it; WHAT IF there was a ‘brute forcefillet option that would always close any edges assigned, but not maintain any continuity or accuracy?

Learners just want the model to close for the render or prototype and move on. I can’t tell you how many fugly student models I have seen ‘because the fillets don’t work’ … so we get none.

The pros know what to do / not do, but that expertise comes later.

thanks Dave- appreciate the input,.

as this topic will hopefully becomes a bunch of aspects - I pick another point:

online help

I would love to see some improvements in the online help:

  • have a simple human readable http address and forward similar addresses:
  • trigger google to find the newest Version (google still finds Rhino 5 for many commands) maybe this means digging into the old stuff and update it (sorry)
  • “open with navigation” (this is available at the bottom of rhino 5 help, not for the current version. Many times you will end up with something like this
  • extract knowledge from this forum and bring it to help and training manuals or wiki articles more quickly - I would love to have topics being closed - and knowledge being extracted, with a pined solution, and a comment “extracted to help / link” or “extracted to training manual / wiki … - link”.

i would love to tell my students - in this hierarchy:
if you have a problem - check:

  • the online help
  • rhino learning / support / sites
  • discourse / this forum
  • google

but I think most students will google first - find some fancy videos that might not show state of the art workflows - or might not lead to the correct help page.

kind regards

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great feedback, thanks

its not something you want to hear, but here it goes:
Unify the MacOS / Windows Interfaces

Usually the groups i teach consist of students with a mix of mac and windows laptops. Does not make things easier…

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Actually happy you said this…

we did this for v8- are you seeing things that need to unify more?

please let us know.

yes please

see my topic / paragraph:

compatibility .rhw ? Classroom setup best practice

I would love to have a single file that syncs all settings and the window layout.

feedback from the classroom

@theoutside
I posted several topic s feedback from the classroom - if you search “@tom_p classroom” you will find them.

kind regards - tom

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While i hate the concept of grading, testing, ensuring non-plagiarism, etc., to comply with uni rules i do need extra tools - simple ones - to ensure the students don’t simply copy/paste their submitted work from elsewhere

on that, since there is often an emphasis on technical precision (for example recreating a 3d model of a building from drawings) , some tools to measure that quickly would also be a godsend

a test set-up that requires freeform curves quite early in the design-process is a great “watermark”.
make sure students have to draw a _curve with a few points without any further constraints.
than you can compare the CV-coordinates down to 12 digits to proof stuff was copied.
also objects Id s might survive shared docs.
And at the end - don t waste your time in proofing plagiarism - focus on the good students that are motivated.
Dealing with plagiarism is a great source of frustration - and if there is a tool, for sure the bad and intelligent students will find a way around it.

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Hi, I am a university teacher using Rhino + GH in architectural design courses. Interesting topic and many points that beget wider discussion. Other than what other contributors have already pointed out, I’d like to weigh in with my proverbial 2 small coins.

general considerations

For curriculum reasons, students in my courses do not have a prior introduction to the software, so I have to build a bespoke learning path aimed at putting them up to speed in a narrow part of the tool that is relevant to the course, with the minimum possible conceptual baggage (i.e. geometry, mathematics) attached. This does not mean to take away the primary means of climbing the learning curve (practice), only provide orientation and unlock as soon as possible the tool as a means of expression for (and not a barrier to) architectural-related concepts.

I’d like to point out that, despite my specific approach, I think learning paths and use cases of Rhino are incredibly broad (in scale, size and scope), so customization is key, and my considerations try to generalize a bit from my narrow corner (but I understand that others might find my suggestions counterproductive for their scenarios). For introductory purposes, the most relevant points of a good tool for me are:

  • easiness of use and confidence (how fast it facilitates going from zero to a “Hello world” kind of output - good confidence at the start encourages going forward)
  • the flexibility to build/customize a learning path.

Both of these instances depend on two things in my opinion (other than being robust and reliable of course): a well-structured, clear interface and well-structured documentation.

interface

Blender adoption made the biggest leap after its interface improvement (of course it was already solid enough at that point); I consider Rhino 8 a step in the right direction, but (as many other users have pointed out in the forum) there’s still room for improvement. Currently, I’ve noticed that many students are intimidated by the tool and are reluctant to open it (this drags practice). Window Layouts are a big step forward, maybe providing more presets other than Drafting and Rendering (i.e. NURBS modelling, Mesh modelling, SubD modelling, etc.), and also “basic” and “expert” default modes might improve the situation. One of the powerful features of Sketchup for example is the simplified interface: more complex commands are available (and can be revealed) but do not appear in the default interface. The persuasion of simplicity was maybe even too powerful, leading to the diffused preconception that Sketchup could not do certain things that were simply hidden. The center of my argument here is the impact of the interface, not the softwares I mentioned.

documentation

By “well-structured documentation”, I mean (other than fast and easily accessible) a structure with these “vertical” levels:

  • concepts
  • tools
  • techniques
  • examples

Tools and Techniques are the landing pages one usually encounters from the command help; these should have links upward to higher abstraction levels (concepts) and downwards to practical use cases and examples (that can be gathered also from the forum).

Usually one enters the documentation at the point of tools (what a command does, ex. Control Point Curve) and/or techniques (ex. “how to blend 2 NURBS curves”) which are in a middle ground between the concepts (with both intuitive and mathematical explanation of NURBS curves, degree, what control points ARE and what they DO) and the examples.

Examples might range from technique-related (ex. curvature control with control points, ensuring continuity according to degree, etc.) to practical examples in multiple applications (ex. design of contours for a shoe, streamlining for an object, path in a garden for landscaping, etc.). Extensive case studies in relevant fields (such as the Morpheus Hotel webinar) are also very good references to include.

Concepts can be structured putting intuitive explanations in the foreground, but with links to the mathematics and/or deeper, more accurate explanations with links to dedicated pages (even external but well-established references such as Paul Bourke).

Ideally, one should be able (and somehow invited to) navigate this documentation vertically (from concept to examples and vice-versa, no matter the entry point), as well as horizontally (connected and/or frequently paired commands).

pain points

  • (not strictly software-related) understanding geometry orientation and direction (especially for generated geometry via GH): why the normal of a surface or Brep face points a certain way (or why offset is outward or inward) and how it depends on orientation/direction of the lower-dimension geometry used to create it.
  • separate unwelded vs welded vs smoothed mesh representation: right now, a welded mesh is also represented as smoothed (same smoothing group for all faces), and there is a confusing behaviour when editing unwelded meshes (overlapping vertices are treated as one but the mesh is still unwelded)
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fabulous feedback- thanks!

inconsistencies

there a many commands that have similar input strategies, but behave different.
(of course - because they where developed at a different time, by different person, in a different context… but this makes it hard to teach)

_blendSrf vs _bridge
blendSrf will finish selection of first edge as soon as it is closed
bridge will need an enter / space to finish first edge selection.
bridge behaves different on pre-selection (you can select both edges) …

_extrudeCrv vs. _offset vs _box (and some more)
_extrudeCrv reacts on mouse position even for a pure keyboard input.
_offset does not finish without mouseclick
_box and _rectangle allow a pure +/- keyboard input (which is great)

_railrevolve vs _sweep1
_railrevolves asks for shape first, then for rail (the command is call railrevolve, not revolveAlongRail)
_sweep1/2 ask for rail first

commands while active / while dialog poped up allow different level of interaction with viewport / c-planes / layers / nested calls of other commands

… and a lot more…

nerdyness / tec background vs. direct access / result orientation

at some level rhino demands a lot of technical background - a great example are all the join, weld, merge stitch align… commands depending on type / technical detail. (It would be great to have a single _smartGlue command).
… on the other hand rhino now removes self-intersections for _revolve or gives an error for selfintersections of _extrudeCrv or does not allow to _insertPoint (or _insertEdge ?) on a subD in smooth mode.
I don t have a final answer for this challenge between those different approaches - but I think a lot of energy in the learning path is sucked by distinguishing between commands / workflows where you need a lot of expert knowledge vs. commands where most stuff is decided by Rhino.

constraints

I would love to see sketches / constraints, not (only) for a technical reason but to be able to teach this concept. My students must also be enabled to switch to other CAD software fast - for example if they get hired by a company that does not use Rhino.

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When learning Rhino (and all the time really), the command line + command history information is a crucial feedback tool to learn what is actually going on.
On macOS the they are split, and by default the feedback is a small popup for 2-3 seconds.
And while the command history window exists, its scrolling is half broken (see my posts on it).
Adding to this, you cant change the font size of the command history - so people sitting in the back usually dont really see what is written there.

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