Archive for the ‘learning_resources’ Category

Today’s post is part of a series exploring areas of focus and innovation for NI software.

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Today’s Featured Author

Jeff Phillips considers LabVIEW as essential to his day as food, water, and oxygen. As senior group manager for LabVIEW product marketing at NI, Jeff focuses on how LabVIEW can meet the changing needs of users. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheLabVIEWLion.





It’s like a bad dream. The kind of dream that reoccurs, never changes, never gets better, just happens over and over again. And there’s nothing that you can do about it. I had a conversation with someone who downloaded the LabVIEW evaluation, but we saw no further engagement from. I asked what prevented that particular individual from continuing.


His answer?


“Well, I’m really just trying to automate this instrument. I gave it a look, but LabVIEW just isn’t for me.”


The words pierced my heart like a perfectly placed knife inserted by the expert hands of Jason Bourne. Not for him? Not for him? He’s doing the EXACT thing that LabVIEW was conceived 30 years ago to do – automate benchtop instruments.


Those words have haunted me since that day. The sad fact is that he was right. LabVIEW has evolved so much as an enabling technology for any engineer to accomplish almost literally anything, it’s no longer highly optimized for any specific task. Within the walls of NI, we call this the “Blank VI Syndrome”. Even a blank PowerPoint slide says “Click to Add Title”. That’s why the investment we’ve been making in in-product learning is so important.


How do you teach someone to use a tool that can do anything?


Well, the answer to that is beautifully simple. You don’t teach them to use the tool. You teach them to accomplish their task using the tool. It might seem subtle, but that subtlety is important. You aren’t taught how to use a pencil. You’re taught how to write with the pencil.


Within the entirety of NI software, and not just LabVIEW, we’re building capabilities that solve a few issues.



Within the walls of NI, we call this the “Blank VI Syndrome”. Even a blank PowerPoint slide says “Click to Add Title”. We're working on fixing this.




There’s a ton of valuable IP, functions, and controls built into LabVIEW. You can find them if you know where to look. But, by definition, new users don’t know where to look. Making these capabilities easily and naturally discoverable is a critical aspect to shortening the learning curve.


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Integrated Guidance


Today, when you’re learning to use LabVIEW, your best resource is the vast expanse of the internet. The internet, where funny cat videos, MEMEs, and bad lip reading can take you away from the task at hand in a moment’s notice. The software product itself needs to be smart enough to help you solve the task. Be both the tool and the teacher.


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Better Starting Points



As LabVIEW has become world-renowned for its unrivaled ability to integrate hardware – any hardware, acquiring data from that hardware is a common starting place. Of course, not everyone has this same starting point. LabVIEW has become popular in design applications as well, where the starting point is typically hardware-agnostic. Regardless, we can take the vast majority of applications and boil the starting points down to a manageable number.


Then, we should just design approachable starting points and flows around those. Right?


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Today’s post is part of a series exploring areas of focus and innovation for NI software.

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Today’s Featured Author

Shelley Gretlein is a self-proclaimed software geek and robot aficionado. As NI’s director of software marketing, you can find Shelley championing LabVIEW from keynote stages to user forums to elevator conversations. You can follow her on Twitter at @LadyLabVIEW.




The days of the droning instructor—whether in undergrad or executive education—are (thankfully) long gone. No one has the time or patience to learn new techniques and technologies the old way. 


The pace of technology is ridiculous, the Internet of Things (IoT) is exploding system complexity, and we’re all finding it hard to keep up. The facts are undeniable, you and your teams have more to learn in your field and have to learn beyond your field, too, if you really want to be competitive. Learning formats must be compatible with your lifestyle.


Thankfully there’s good news. Technology, investments, and management trends are in our favor. I’m seeing a rise in learning technologies and techniques from massive open online courses (MOOCs) at universities to in-product learning from customer education departments. But I’m also seeing innovation outside traditional spaces. Options like Connexions, TechShop, and Khan Academy are popping up everywhere.


The 70:20:10 Rule: Learning Is More Than the Classroom


We need to expand our definition of ‘training’ beyond the classroom to all forms of learning. The 70:20:10 rule reinforces this concept. Traditionally, "customer education" content lives in the 10% (formal learning). NI is also providing the 20% (social) heavily rooted in peer to peer (user groups, summits, developer days). We are evolving our portfolio to include more content that lives in the 70% (experiential learning). Learning spans tutorials to online modules, YouTube to code snippets, mentoring to code reviews, and seminars to white papers. Learning is popping up online, in cubes, and in-product.


One key learning enhancement in LabVIEW, shaped by the LabVIEW Community, first came in LabVIEW 2012 with the introduction of templates and sample projects. These recommended starting points are designed to ensure the quality and scalability of a system by demonstrating recommended architectures and illustrating best practices for documenting and organizing code. More than a conceptual illustration of how to use a low-level API or technology within LabVIEW, these open-source projects demonstrate how the code works and best practices for adding or modifying functionality, so you learn by doing.


But we aren’t stopping there, we have learning built into LabVIEW Communications Design Suite (the revolution in rapid prototyping for communications) to minimize design flow interruptions and encourage seamless learning. "Just-in-time" learning and access to learning material in product allows you to learn by doing—commonly referred to as "performance support." 




Overcoming the Access Hurdle


Regardless of the learning format you prefer, it’s clear to me that access is the key hurdle to overcome. If you know what you don’t know and can access the right training to learn what you need to learn—study upon study demonstrates you will be significantly more productive.




We are doing our part here as well. For the past several years, NI has included online training with most of our products as part of staying on active software service. This online format is optimized to fit your schedule while complementing other formats including live instructor-led virtual training, classroom training, and on-site custom courses. The online courses respect your time and your budget as Thomas Sumrak from PAR Technologies reported, “I estimate that the training courses have saved me more than 150 hours in self-paced learning time to get to an equivalent skill level.”


It’s All About Proficiency

As your intuition would tell you, learning, and more importantly—proficiency—really matters. Everyone knows someone who takes every corporate course available and doesn’t learn a thing. You have to learn, not just listen, for the investment to matter. When you do—it does. After becoming proficient (via certification), customers reported the following:


  • Over 54% said the quality of their work improved
  • Nearly 45% said their peers’ perceptions of them improved
  • Nearly 30% received new project opportunities

Take your learning into your own hands and take advantage of the many new resources available and suited to your learning preferences, time constraints, and budget needs. Don’t just check a box, but take the time to do, and cement your understanding through experience. It’s at your fingertips.


Identify the skills you need and find learning resources to help you successfully develop your application. Visit  or download the course catalog to review the training courses, certification exams, and proficiency events available in your area of interest.