I once worked for a manager who encouraged her staff to learn one new thing every day. So strongly did she feel about this that she declared once we had learned something new we could go home early. None of us were ever brave enough to test her sincerity on that. We found it easier to follow her other maxim that said there would be no thinking on Fridays. There seldom was.
If I endeavour to learn one new thing each day (excepting Fridays, naturally), I will gain over 300 new skills or pieces of knowledge in a year. With the internet, there’s no shortage of learning opportunities but the value varies widely. In-person seminars and conferences often offer quality, but with a daunting investment of time and money.
At the intersection of value and quality you might find lynda.com. Lynda.com is the video training website offered by the AU Students’ Union. Students registered in at least one AU undergraduate course for credit can register to access this service free through the AUSU website. It’s worthwhile to register and browse through the course list: you can find both information and inspiration from among over 2000 offerings.
There really is a Lynda at lynda.com. The service was founded by Lynda Weinman and her husband Bruce Heavin. The site was initially conceived to supplement and support in-class instruction on web design, imagery, and photography. Now their training is fully online as a subscription training service, with an expanded video library that includes business and software skills. AUSU is providing access to its members for free; see the details here.
After my initial forays into some light learning, described in last week’s Voice article, I continued my educational journey with some meatier fare. I began with “OneNote Essential Training.” I have only been using OneNote, Microsoft’s note-taking software, for a year so there are big gaps in my knowledge. The course for the 2007 version runs over five hours, so I watched only a couple segments of interest to me on templates and pen mode. I learned two new things in under ten minutes.
For “Time Management Fundamentals,” I didn’t want to miss a thing so I started at the beginning. This course, like many others, has exercise files that I can download right from the course page. After watching the first few segments I’ve already learned techniques I can use, as well as the difference between multi-tasking, which many people think they can do, and background-tasking, which is actually possible. With a click this course is added to my playlist so I can quickly access it later.
I’m not planning to do any public speaking soon. Or even ever. But I began watching “Public Speaking Fundamentals” to try to reduce that squirmy feeling I get when thinking about addressing an audience. This will be another course to watch in digestible segments over a week or two. After having watched instructor Laura Bergells describe how and why to define your audience’s persona before composing a speech, I feel slightly less uncomfortable with the whole public-speaking thing. I stress slightly.
To reward myself for all this earnest learning, I finished my week with “Foundations in Photography: Night and Low Light.” Although I take thousands of photos a year, my skills are still under development. I’m counting on instructor Ben Long, who has two dozen photography courses on lynda.com, to help me rely more on my ability and less on the camera’s.
Any course I plan to continue I add to my playlist, which I can access from any screen. Additionally, all courses viewed, even briefly, are automatically added to my course history. That makes previously-watched courses easy to find. Lynda knows I don’t like wasting time. For details on all lynda.com’s features, click on “Support” then “How to use lynda.com” or “FAQs.”
I’m trying to make learning with lynda.com part of my daily routine. There are a number of interesting courses I plan to view during the year. I may even get around to “Overcoming Procrastination.” What do you want to learn?
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 for free. From the AUSU website, click on services, then lynda.com, or click here. Be sure to read the registration instructions carefully.
And remember, if you’ve learned something new today, you can stop work early.
Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario