To hear the talk around MTSU, you might think there is a new teacher on campus named Lynda whose class everyone wants to take.
And you wouldn’t be far off—the University’s new contract with online training website Lynda.com is creating a lot of buzz this fall.
Billy Pittard, chairman of MTSU’s Department of Electronic Media Communications, knows the company’s namesake, Lynda Weinman, and in fact worked for her three years before joining the MTSU faculty in 2011.
He said the campus-wide Lynda.com subscription is a tremendous benefit for educators, staff and especially the University’s nearly 23,000 students.
“It’s a tragedy when you have to spend class time teaching software skills, because everyone is at different levels,” said Pittard, who worked at Lynda.com in California during 2008–2011. “This is one of those opportunities to flip the classroom. You can assign learning software skills outside of class, then in class learn how to do something worthwhile with that software.”
Frustrated over the complex, hard-to-follow technical manuals available at the time, Weinman launched Lynda.com in 1995 as a site where students could get free training. Such resources are common today, thanks in large part to her work.
With thousands of training videos, Lynda.com is designed to help anyone learn business, software, technology, and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals.
Pittard, who developed content and recruited teachers for Lynda.com, said the first step in getting the most out of the website is to learn how to learn from it.
“You can go ahead and browse Lynda.com to get ideas about how you might use the materials for your classes—and also about how you might use them for your own professional/personal development. Lynda.com has excellent search-ability, so give that a try for any specific topics you might be interested in,” Pittard said.
He said his department has been using it for years and envisions a benefit for every campus college.
“You can assign a whole ‘course’ and require the students to earn a certificate of completion. The subscription includes the ability to download all materials used in the course videos,” he said.
The benefit for MTSU students from this subscription will be long-lasting, he said, both for their education and subsequent career. An individual subscription to Lynda.com costs hundreds of dollars.
“When I was working at Lynda.com, it was amazing to me the feedback we got from subscribers. A total stranger would walk up and say, ‘So you work at Lynda.com?’ I would say, ‘Yeah.’ They would say, ‘I got my job because of Lynda.com, ’ ” he said.
“For someone trying to learn a piece of software, I honestly don’t think there is a better way.”
Michael Wheaton, assistant to the director of library technology at the James E. Walker Library, has already discovered that.
“I was trying to figure out how to make a YouTube video accessible to people with hearing disabilities. I was having trouble figuring out how to caption a video,” he said.
He did a quick Lynda.com search for “captioning YouTube video” and 3 minutes later was doing it.
“I didn’t have to sit through a long lecture that covered way more than I needed to accomplish that task. Instead, I received exactly the dose of information needed,” Wheaton said.
“Because Lynda.com tracks progress by user, it allows larger training packages to be broken into manageable chunks based upon the amount of time available, and when it is convenient, students return right where they left off.”