Learning from Lynda

If I had a personal motto, it would be “never turn down the opportunity to learn something new.” Learning opportunities are occasions for growth. Everything I learn expands my horizon and increases my potential.

Balancing studies with work, family, and the myriad other commitments and activities that round out our lives, there is a risk of developing tunnel vision. Focusing on the road ahead, we may only learn the things that are put in our way. While those things are valuable, we could be missing even more value from the learning opportunities outside our line of vision. It’s a good idea to step outside the tunnel, escape the flow, and discover what else is out there that will offer the potential for growth.

Being a student, acquiring new knowledge is a given. However, sometimes the acquisition of knowledge itself requires knowledge or skills I don’t already possess. Perhaps I need to learn new software or improve my note-taking skills. It’s almost a given that I should overcome procrastination and improve my time-management skills. And anything that fuels creativity will surely translate into better grades on essays and assignments.

I recently checked out lynda.com, the video training website accessible to AU students through the AU Student Union. AUSU announced this service in April 2013 and will provide access to lynda.com for three years. Students can register to receive one year’s free access during that period. The training videos are available whenever you are, and can be accessed from your computer, tablet, or smart phone. See AUSU’s website for details.

Having navigated the registration process, my first task is to browse through the course list. Since there are over 2300 courses, I begin with the subject list (you can also search the list by software or keyword.) The variety of subjects is extensive and intriguing: architecture, cloud computing, data analysis, leadership, music notation, pre-visualization, student tools, and web conferencing are among the almost 200 subject categories. There appears to be a heavy focus on computers and creativity.

The courses are video-based with an accompanying transcript. Some courses, like those in the “Monday Productivity Pointers” series are less than five minutes long. Others are hours in length such as, ironically, “Time Management Fundamentals” at two and three-quarter hours. Most are broken up into manageable segments, which allow the viewer to easily exit a session and continue another time.

A great feature is the accompanying transcript, which scrolls just below the video. The video’s current dialogue is highlighted, and you can navigate instantly to anywhere in the video by clicking on the relevant place in the transcript. Another feature on the video is the “rewind 10 seconds” button that gives you a second chance to catch the point you just missed.

I began my lynda.com journey with the easily digested “Monday Productivity Pointers.” Each week a new quick tip is posted and you can access all the previous tips. After watching a light but fascinating tip on finding eBay deals through misspelled listings, I searched to find something more academic. I found productivity pointer treasure with “Taking Screenshots From a PC.” That was four minutes well-spent. And now I know how to use the “Snipping Tool” on my PC to take effective screenshots.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be diving in deeper with “Public Speaking Fundamentals,” “Managing Your Time,” and perhaps “Overcoming Procrastination.” I’ll also review some of the more than 200 Microsoft courses to discover what I don’t know about the software I’m already using. And, finally, I’ll take a look at “The lynda.com Story” to find out how this service came to be.

If you are an AU student enrolled in an AU undergraduate course for credit, you can access lynda.com and its extensive library of training videos. From the AUSU website, click on services, then lynda.com, or click here. Be sure to read the registration instructions carefully. Once registered, remember to access lynda.com through the AUSU website on subsequent visits.

Don’t turn down the opportunity to learn something new.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario

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