Teaching from Home - Students and I know AutoCAD, I am struggling!


I am a High School teacher who has started learning SketchUp for Schools and teaching it at the same time to my AutoCAD students. There are many things that I am struggling to figure out that I can’t find on YouTube or in forums. It looks like SketchUp can’t do simple things like draw a line tangent to a circle, snap to a quadrant of a circle and tangent, tangent, radius circles. Is this just a function of the schools version? What am I missing? Is there a way to STOP the program from automatically trimming or grouping objects that touch? Most of the help videos I find are not for SketchUp for schools so I do not have the menus that other versions of SketchUp have. I have been teaching this for two weeks and now that we are past the basics and trying to do more complicated things I am starting to regret choosing this program. Is there a SketchUp for Schools expert out there that can help me?

This video may help for tangent… You have to make group every seperate object to avoid trimming…

Have you checked out our SketchUp Campus video lessons yet? We have Fundamentals for mastering SketchUp basics and more complex stuff like cleaning up and exporting CAD files. - https://learn.sketchup.com/

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There is a plugin you can use for tangents…

Of course extensions aren’t implemented in the web-based SketchUp for Schools.

I don’t mean to be mean but what you are trying to do is a bit like saying, ‘I’m going to teach Greek to some students, I’ll be learning it as I go too but that shouldn’t be a problem as I’m fluent in French. Oh and the only reference material I have was written by Shakespeare.’

Acad and Sketchup are both computer design packages but they are very different. In fact knowing acad is usually a disadvantage when it comes to learning Sketchup. To top it off there aren’t that many tutorial yet for the web version, so you need to translate from the desktop ones, and there are some significant differences. Those of use who know the software backwards can usually quickly work out how things work in the web version, but only because we know what to look for.

Realistically you need to learn Sketchup before you can efficiently teach it.



You are absolutely right. As a teacher, I need to know it first,. Unfortunately, this happening because of COVID19. I did not want to teach SketchUp. But this is the solution I have. I am trying to stay several days ahead of what I am trying to teach so that I can provide effective, engaging learning for my students.
I guess I am just surprised by the limitations. For several years, people have been saying to me why do you teach AutoCAD? You should do SketchUp instead…it is easier/more user friendly/more powerful/etc. I am trying to figure out if these limitations are a function of the school version vs. the full version. But, for example, everything I read in forums about tangent lines is that you have to install an extension. As a Drafting and Engineering teacher I am just surprised that SketchUp has not figured out how to treat their polygon like circles more like circles. I don’t mean to offend, I am just surprised.

SU uses straight lines for everything, there are no curves, so technically there are no tangents. A curve is made of segments, the more segments the smoother the curve, but the harder SU has to work. Using more segments is pointless on things seen at a distance but important for smooth 3d printing.

This what I mean about knowing Acad being a disadvantage, you expect it to do certain things but it can’t do it the way Acad does.
Understanding the fundamentals of the software is where you need to start. Your comment about Trimming and Grouping objects that touch, shows that you haven’t learnt that all geometry in SU is sticky and it needs to be wrapped in groups or components so it doesn’t stick together.
This is a fundamental of both desktop and Web. Without understanding that you will get nowhere. Layers/Tags are another major thing, layers/tags do not separate geometry, only groups and components do. Do not assign a layer/tag to raw geometry, only to groups or components. Do not change the Active Layer/Tag.

Work through the Campus to start with to give yourself a grounding.

Edit: Feel free to ask questions when you get stuck, but make them specific. We can usually show you quite quickly how to achieve almost anything.


SketchUp is a powerful cad package, it is designed to be intuitive but it’s still complex to learn and use. And, it’s nothing like Acad. start with the Sketchup campus. The interface it shows is for the desktop version, but all the same tools exist in the web version. It just looks different. If you stay ahead of the students by a class or two you should be able to help them find the same tools used in each lesson in the web version. Then they can follow along and the lesson plans are already laid out. It even has tests built in.



I’m a full time architect and a part time teacher for SketchUp and hand drawing/drafting to high school students in a private school. I did an entire class two years ago with SketchUp for Schools and the lessons I gave were all in video format. I made a poster shown elsewhere on this forum. If you PM me, I could possibly find a way to share the videos and components we used. This year and last, I had to go back to SketchUp Make because I’m teaching Match Photo, which SUfS doesn’t do. That could be a possibility, but each student would have to install it on a home machine. I was just rising to the occasion of teaching remotely, when they decided to furlough us after school teachers after all, so I didn’t end up working that out. Here’s another post about last year’s class, which is what I was supposed to repeat this year.


Thank you RT…I am going to email you directly.

I am a retired CAD teacher. SketchUp is a program that creates polygonal faces from edges. Therefore, as much as I wish it could create circles so I could use TTR, it can’t and never will. That doesn’t mean it can’t be a powerful modeler. Before I retired, it was one semester of SU before moving to a full year with Fusion 360, then Revit/Inventor, etc. A lot of my students finally figured out math during that first semester.

Grouping geometry as you go along will prevent the splitting and sticking you are experiencing.

I placed many of my projects on a YouTube channel for other teachers. You are free to check it out. It’s just a volunteer effort, no ads, kid safe - I’m not selling anything.

Email me if I can help. We’re all in this together.