Lynda.com helps Penn State students build their skill sets

The Grenada National Museum was in need of an update.

Jonathan Hanna, a Penn State doctoral candidate in archaeology and a Peace Corps volunteer on the Caribbean island, had helped write a grant for the museum to update its dilapidated Amerindian display.

“A lot had changed in Caribbean archaeology since the previous exhibit had been made,” Hanna said. “So I wanted to help update the information by making a series of 10 large, high-quality posters to accompany new displays.”

After the grant got funded, Hanna’s next step was figuring out how exactly to make those posters. He settled on using Adobe InDesign, a popular software program for page design and layout, but had no idea how to use it. So Hanna turned to the video training modules on lynda.com, an online video library of digital training courses on topics like design, web development, marketing and more.

“The University's contract with lynda.com gives Penn State students, faculty and staff access to the full library of tutorials,” said Chris Lucas, IT director in Enterprise Infrastructure and Operations. “Users can create their own playlists, mixing and matching videos to suit their interests, or follow one of the service's Learning Paths, which are predesigned playlists organized by career goal.”

In addition to videos, lynda.com provides practice files so users can follow along with a tutorial on their own computer. For example, if a video is showing users how to use Photoshop to color correct a photo, users will be able to download the same photo used in the video to practice with. Users also earn certificates of completion after they finish a course.

Hanna used some of the service’s InDesign tutorials to learn how to create posters for both the museum exhibit and for meetings he attended for the Society for American Archaeology and the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology.

“With lynda.com, I was able to quickly and effectively learn InDesign to make professional, high-resolution posters,” Hanna said. “And, now that I know about the service, I check it whenever I come across a program I am unfamiliar with. It’s so helpful.”

In addition to helping students abroad on research trips, lynda.com is also helping students at each Penn State campus location and online at the Penn State World Campus.

Ray Vasquez, a Penn State World Campus student living in Texas, has used lynda.com to help him study for and meet his goal of earning his first technical certificate while he works toward dual degrees in information sciences and technology and security and risk analysis.

After taking lynda.com’s COMPTia A+ exam prep course, Vasquez was able to take the exam and earn his COMPTia A+ technical certificate. The certification shows employers that Vasquez understands common business hardware and software technologies and has the skills needed to support complex IT infrastructures. Vasquez said that using lynda.com was “instrumental” in helping him achieve this goal.

“I’m a visual learner, and the videos helped me understand concepts that I may have struggled with on the page,” Vasquez said. “I also like that the courses are broken down into many small videos and that a tracker keeps track of how much of the course is left. It’s a great visual aid to help me see how much has been accomplished.”

Kwok-Leong Tang, a doctoral candidate working toward his doctorate in history in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts, has used lynda.com since before he came to the University in 2012. Tang uses the service to not only build his own set of skills — like photography and web development — but also those of his students.

“For the students in my Asian popular culture course, I ask them to create a final project that represents something they learned that semester. It can be a short film, a song, almost anything they can think of,” Tang said. “I often suggest they use lynda.com if they envision something they don’t know how to make. You don’t need to take a semester-long course to make one website, for example. They can use tutorials on lynda.com.”

While many students are using lynda.com to help them as they earn their degrees and complete research, some are using the service to help them in jobs they already have. Sadikquah Perry, a World Campus student living in Maryland and pursuing her degree in economics, is using lynda.com to help polish her skills in Microsoft Excel, which she uses in her job as a program analyst at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Perry said she enjoys the flexibility of being able to jump around each course available on lynda.com.

“I like that each course is made up of several short videos, allowing you to go straight to the topic you want,” she said. “Since I already use Excel a lot, there are things I already know. Lynda.com lets me choose which topics I need to learn while bypassing those I’ve already mastered.”

With thousands of courses and tutorials, logging onto lynda.com for the first time can be overwhelming. Tang suggests a “window shopping” approach to finding the right tutorials for you.

“I always recommend finding several videos on the topic you’re interested in and watching the introductory ‘what you need to know’ video that’s included at the beginning of every course,” Tang said. “It’ll let you know if it’s a beginner course or for someone more advanced in that topic and help you find the best courses for you.”

For more information, visit Penn State’s lynda.com website.

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Last Updated October 06, 2016