The features and capabilities in the Academic Edition are no different than the Commercial Edition. If there is something you cannot complete, it could be due to the Academic UI configuration applied when installing the Academic Edition. Just make sure you are not in the SCHOOLS tab and you should be all set. As you noted, the difference is in the file format. Academic files can be shared with other Academic users, but they cannot be shared with Commercial users. You should be able to use all the resources listed above to learn Creo Parametric with the Academic Edition.