Why I like Lynda.Com for OnLine Training

We all learn differently. Some learn by doing. Some by reading. Some by hearing. I like having someone tell me how to do something and then going and trying it in the real world immediately after learning.*

I worked for more than 10 years in eLearning software development at Platte Canyon and Titan Client/Server Technologies. I wrote numerous software simulations that allowed learners to see, try, and do. I narrated hundreds and hundreds of pages of training. I wrote tools to help others write eLearning. All of that doesn’t matter now, though, because I think Lynda.Com finally got it right and they basically do nothing that I was doing. They just shoot videos:

The Good Way: Lynda.com

They skip most of the fancy simulations. They skip the ad nauseum quiz questions. The core of the training is down-to-earth video training on specific tasks in specific software. There are some sample files you can download and try on your own to follow along (sometimes helpful), or you can just watch the video and go do it on your own.

From a technical side, since the training is all just web videos, it’s very easy to get.

  1. Quick to learn Technical Training.
  2. Just like an in-person class.
  3. No distracting eLearning BS like quizzes and simulations
  4. I can use any browser.
  5. I can use any platform.

Lynda.com: Great content, easy to get to, taught in a way that I can quickly absorb and understand.

The Bad Way: SkillPort

I’m comparing my Lynda.Com experience to the University of Colorado’s standard offering from SkillPort which has the craziest multi-window login I’ve ever seen. Then, once you go through the 5 screens or so to get in, you then need to navigate the daunting tree of available courses.

Once you actually find your course, THEN, FINALLY, the actual course launches in yet another window. And it’s a read, click, read, click sort of thing, with some simulations that you are required to go through before you continue.

The simulations stink. Here’s one example of a simulation in SkillSoft: Say you need to save a document. To save a document, you just wnat to press Ctrl-S and the save is done, right? That’s what we do in MS Word, for instance. Not with SkillPort. That doesn’t work. Ctrl-S = Fail. The simulation blocks you from going on until you choose File, Save.  So it all feels just a little cumbersome and old fashioned.

End of Story: I Love Lynda.Com if for no other reason than it works the way it should. I learn from it. It’s easy to use. All good.

*Since I’m talking about how I learn, actually, from what I can tell, I’m an auditory learner in live classes. But I’m the annoying student who learns best hearing MYSELF say the content. I raise my hand and summarize the point: “Wait, are you saying (blah blah blah)?”  The teacher says, “yes, Chris, that’s what I’m saying,” and moves on thinking, “didn’t I just say that?” And when I’m really trying to learn something, I do interruption and restatement over and over. It’s a nightmare. (I’ll understand if you never want to take a class with me).

If this then that. Changing my life

Have you found this site yet?

ifttt.com

You set your own simple rules.

It’s revolutionizing the way I handle reading and filing rss feeds (just star an item in google reader and the whole post gets added to my Evernote folder).

It does great with me posting/tweeting or whatever and having that automatically posted on other social media sites.

Very exciting.

IT In Higher Ed: We’re Ahead of the Game in One Way

Stephanie Overby’s excellent September 9 article in Infoworld entitiled How to Handle Rogue IT is written with an eye to the corporate IT. She talks about the difficulty of a diverse technical environment with more and more participants bringing in their own devices and popping on to the enterprise network. She looks at a “new” situation with “rogue” departments buying equipment of their own choosing and setting it up outside the view of the main IT department.  Heck, that sounds like normal in my world.

Ask anyone in a higher education IT department if this sort of decentralized IT environment is a concern, and they’ll look at you like you’re from another dimension. Decentralization and “rogue” setups are the norm in higher education.  It’s as core to the university setting as academic freedom, papers, and faculty with strong opinions. It’s natural. I would argue that such an environment is the soul of the Internet. Diversity is good in IT just as it is in the human groups. The Internet’s birth, in fact, was all about joining together diverse networks from universities and military centers.

So, while IT shops from shiny Fortune 500 corporations may be scrambling to get their hands (and minds) around this new world, higher ed types know it. We’re ahead of the Fortune 500! Let’s just take a moment to bask in this rare situation.

<a moment. ahhhh.>

The article mentions some strategies for IT shops working with diverse IT environments. My favorite quote: “The New IT Mantra: Yes, We Can”

Her point with this newly needed can-do attitude of IT is that if the main IT department won’t meet the customers’ wishes, then the customers are just going to work around the IT department and do it themselves. And doing it themselves may or not be okay for them,  but it will surely not be implemented with an eye to the enterprise. Ane the IT department is sidelined and later, when the system is old or stops working, IT will be called in to fix it at that point anyway.

So, IT should say “Yes” to helping with small groups and individual projects. I’m happy to report that we’re onto this already as well: The small IT department at Colorado Law, where I work, has had an internal motto for the past 5 years: “CU Law IT, we never say ‘no.’”  This attitude was born from a strong customer service orientation and actually got the IT department a little 1-page spread in the Greentree Gazette a few years ago. (The Greentree Gazette was a magazine on the business of Higher Education, now sadly defunct.)  The large enterprise University of Colorado IT Department, OIT, under the leadership of Larry Levine, now also seems to be saying, “Yes” as much as it can, sometimes I think to the chagrin of the folks inside the department who are more used to the traditional approach of long lead times, careful steps, and detailed implementation plans. In a world where the orientation is “Yes, we can,” the folks in the department will feel scattered, have multiple and expanding points of responsibility.

There’s a lot more to do at Colorado Law and the larger U. of Colorado and a lot more to Overby’s article, but for me, the most important take-away was:

In working with a diverse IT landscape, IT in higher ed rocks.