Evolution of how tools are taught

Week two

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Tools have changed, and so must the way we learn how to use them. Where once one might pick up a pen and make it move without any training, possibly even producing a reasonable approximation of what was intended, it could be daunting to open a program like Adobe Illustrator for the first time. While the richness of what might be accomplished is infinite, the learning curve is often steeper. As a sometimes user, I have to turn to Google Search with a specific idea of what I want to do each time I open an Adobe program. And with enough gaps in time between usage opportunities, I often have to search again to remember how to do that “one thing.” Enter Lynda.

Lynda describes itself as a learning platform by which one may develop skills to achieve personal and professional goals. In essence, it is a tool to learn how to use other tools. There are different subscription types and five language offerings, making it more broadly accessible. Cost may be prohibitive for some (starting at $25/month or $250/year). However, the possibilities Lynda offers, in tackling the endlessness of endless tools, seem endless. There are currently nearly 5,500 courses with more reportedly being added.

Lynda would be useful to many leadership situations. The particular aspects would depend on one’s role, responsibilities, and goals. As a communications professional at a business, Lynda has relevant modules for marketing, branding, business skills, communication, computer skills, content strategy, and more. Educators and healthcare professionals would also find ample learning opportunity for various software programs unique to them or specific skill development. From a personal enrichment perspective, all of the offerings are intriguing to stay relevant in one’s field or even expand to another.

From an organizational use angle, security settings can present problems. In testing Lynda out at my location, I had no trouble accessing the site or playing its content. However, I do run into issues for other tech tools pertaining to the company browser of choice and/or because the company has chosen to block access for business reasons. I cannot, for example, access any type of cloud storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive. The need for a secure system leads to some tools being built internally, while a superior tech tool may already exist. I publish stories regularly to an internal site, and the short week plus with WordPress has shown it to be infinitely superior to my publishing system. Ease of access in accordance with security policies is likely a common issue for many.

I find Sinek’s (2016) comparison of social media and cell phones to alcohol in their release of dopamine of concern. Neuroscientist Greenfield (2017) cautioned also that technology changes our brains. While I am not immune to the endorphin zing of seeing a new “like” or “follow,” I am grateful that I grew up in a time before today’s tools, as well as before computers became standard. I appreciate the tools, while being aware of other ways to do things. I often look at my fifteen year old and wonder what he would do if all of the “shortcuts” went away. And while we have grown more connected through technology, those connections are not as intimate. Fundamentals are being lost (Weinberger, 2011). As Shirky (2014) said, “Abundance breaks more things than scarcity.”

Taking a closer look at tools I was previously unaware of, I am interested in trying Piktochart. I have been planning to create an infographic for my internal audience that shows the storytelling process, helping educate team members on necessary elements to tell a good story and all of the places their story might appear. I would also like to delve into Movie Maker. Understanding that visuals are often more effective for storytelling purposes, I am considering reallocating some of my time toward developing video as yet another opportunity to reach my audiences.

References

Greenfield, S. (2017, January 19). Modern technology is changing the way our brains work, says neuroscientist. Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-565207/Modern-technology-changing-way-brains-work-says-neuroscientist.html

Shirky, C., & Chui, M. (2014, March). The disruptive power of collaboration: An interview with Clay Shirkey. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved from http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/high-tech/our-insights/the-disruptive-power-of-collaboration-an-interview-with-clay-shirky

Sinek, S. (2016). How to get people to follow you. Inside Quest. Retrieved from http://www.insidequest.com/episode/simon-sinek/

Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know: Rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room [Kindle version]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/

19 thoughts on “Evolution of how tools are taught

  1. Nice review. One down side I have heard in some organizations is that the “customer service” aspect of IT has suffered, as the first response to a trouble call is “go figure it out on Lynda.” That probably works for some but not all.

    On the other hand, Lynda (and more broadly YouTube) certainly taps in to the DIY mindset.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dr. Watwood, thank you for your comments. I appreciate the point regarding IT service because I know it would not have occurred to me. While I have made the occasional tech support call at different companies at different points in time, I am conditioned to expect the answer to most questions to be a reboot.

      I do everything I can on my own (Google searching generally) to avoid having to make a support call. Even knowing about Lynda, I suspect I would not use it specifically for troubleshooting. While one can find applicable course instruction with relative ease, the ability to find specific answers within the material could be difficult, which is a separate, additional downside.

      Julie

      Like

  2. Thanks for the review! The DIY perspective seems an important one when considering growing one’s literacy in digital-social tools. Along these lines, Leslie Gaines-Ross’ (2015) HBR article (https://hbr.org/2015/05/what-ceos-have-learned-about-social-media) stressed the importance of authenticity in messaging. She cautioned, “Do it yourself. Outsourcing sociability might save time but employees can sniff out inauthenticity in a nanosecond. You can get assistance but it is always best to be the editor-in-chief.” It seems tools like Lynda can contribute to this valuable end goal. Beyond your own personal-professional learning, have you used Lynda as a tool to facilitate the learning and growth of others?

    I am also interested in your prospective infographic and other resources on the story telling process. If the end products include items that can be shared…I would definitely love to see them. This is an area where I know I have great opportunity for growth in my own leadership. I have been very interested in the value of story telling after being introduced to Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand podcast last year (https://itunes.apple.com/podcast/id1092751338?mt=2&ls=1).

    -EA

    Liked by 1 person

    1. EA, thank you, I completely agree as to the authenticity point. I have considered likely outcomes should I try to pitch my president to engage on Twitter. This ultimately would mean me running an additional Twitter account on my president’s behalf, which would be an abject failure. Team members would certainly know it was not him, and they might know it was me specifically. However well I might try to mimic him, “voice” is a lot like fingerprints, and people would see mine all over any account he would ostensibly be running. We have arguably entered a transition period in hiring leaders, where social media savvy is now a part of the package of desired skills (Learned, 2015).

      I appreciate your question. I have not used Lynda to directly facilitate the learning and growth of others in that I have not provided access to the courses. However, it would be fair to say that any personal gleanings I gather from any resource are shared indirectly, as I incorporate learning into what I produce and mentor others.

      For example, I was fortunate to have an intern for a period of time recently. She is one of our tellers and is majoring in communications. Performing an internship was part of her school’s graduation requirements, and I was the lucky recipient of her help. She mainly assisted with writing stories for the internal Web site. Over a period of time, based on things I had learned, I would ask her questions and point her toward tools versus provide answers to help hopefully guide problem solving. It was really rewarding to see her incorporating advice in her practice and start leveraging resources, turning in a more complete product each time.

      I would be more than happy to share any resources I produce. Thank you for being interested!

      References
      Learned (2015, January 5). Leadership and transparency 2015: The social media imperative. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrea-learned/leadership-and-transparen_b_6407498.html

      Julie

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  3. I am glad that you touched a bit on the physical and psychosocial responses to the increased use of cell phones and social media. You might find an article by the British Psychological Society (2012) interesting. In it, they describe the work of psychologist Richard Balding who studied stress as it relates to use of cell phones. He found that that personal stress levels increased with the number of times someone checked his/her phone. In fact, some even experience “phantom” vibrations due to the stress.

    In regards to Lynda, can you speak to the type of training it provides for those with more technical expertise? Dr. Watwood’s comment above regarding the customer service component is a bit concerning, but I wonder if there are trainings available through Lynda that are geared towards more advanced users as well as for those at a more basic level of understanding. One of the challenges I face in my IT department is that people on my campus will just go out and purchase software or tools without consulting us. Those people then frequently expect our department to be able to help them troubleshoot or support them when things do not go as planned. While my goal is to reduce the recurrence of that behavior, perhaps a subscription to Lynda could help us with those tools with which we do not have familiarity.

    Thanks,
    The Ayes Have It

    Reference

    British Psychological Society (2012, January 15). People with smart phones fall victim to social networking stress. Retrieved from http://www.psypost.org/2012/01/people-with-smart-phones-fall-victim-to-social-networking-stress-9077

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ayes, yes, I believe it. In addition to the phantom aspect, many people have the same alert sounds, which leads to a repeating Pavlovian response beyond one’s own device when others are around (Rosen, 2016). I changed my alert a long while back to a wookiee scrowl to help me stop reacting to everyone else’s devices. Often, I have noise and vibration off entirely.

      In answer to your question, Lynda does consider expertise to help sort course content, with sizable chunks aimed at the different levels of understanding. I do not envy you the position described. It is interesting that folks can procure what they would like and expect support. Are there any policies that try to limit that practice, so as to keep IT workload reasonable? I know in many of the organizations I have been at, it has not been possible to download or install anything on one’s own. The attempt is blocked.

      References
      Rosen, L. (2016, June 11). Are we all becoming Pavlov’s dogs? Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/rewired-the-psychology-technology/201606/are-we-all-becoming-pavlov-s-dogs

      Julie

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      1. Hi Julie,

        It is a battle that I fight quite frequently and we are turning things around. There is a software procurement policy that states all must work with IT prior to making any such purchase, but it still does happen time to time that we will get a call pleading for our help because someone ignored that. I think some of those expenditures still get through the process because there are simply so many different applications and software available. If someone goes outside of IT to make the purchase, I can imagine it is quite difficult for our finance office to even identify what some of the purchase orders are covering. So, the problem has been less with direct download or installation, and instead with the vendors that say not to worry about that because this product requires no IT support at all. Fat chance of that being true!

        Thanks again for your review of Lynda, Julie.

        -The Ayes Have It

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Good morning. I was not familiar with Lynda and appreciate your introduction to the two. When I visited their site, I was pleased they offered a 10-day free trial. I appreciate the concept but was struck with the thought that those that are not comfortable with technology may even be intimidated by this tool. As a leader, if you decided this was a tool that could help employees how would you suggest promoting the use of the product? How would you help those that are apprehensive about technology use the product? When reading about your thoughts on Lynda, I was reflecting on my blog last week. I shared the anxiety my co-workers felt regarding a new technology everyone was going to need to use. An article on SHRM.org (https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/pages/0314-tools.aspx) I was reading recently talked about ways to engage employees in change. Do you think this total could be used in such a way that could promote engagement in an organization technological change?

    Jason

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jason, thank you much for your comments. A couple of thoughts in answer to your questions… Lynda’s resources and training offerings could be a measure to encourage adoption of a new technology at an organization. My admittedly limited experience with the course content does show it to be user friendly in delivery and focus.

      To encourage adoption of Lynda itself as a tool, there would need be clear communication as to the value and goal. Perhaps outline promotion and career path opportunities with skill development (Knight, 2015).

      I would be targeted in pointing team members to the basic courses they should review. In essence, come up with a short list of the content likely to be most effective, leverage it myself to model completion, as well as build a program around course completion. For example, set a reasonable timeline to finish, ensure there is a tracking mechanism to see that team members have finished courses, and perhaps design a brief activity to assess understanding and retention.

      It might also be beneficial to schedule a few group opportunities to review and engage in the course content. This would allow those who learn better together to choose that option, as well as demonstrate the value placed on spending the time to learn.

      References
      Knight, R. (2015, March 19). Convincing skeptical employees to adopt new technology. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/03/convincing-skeptical-employees-to-adopt-new-technology

      Julie

      Like

      1. Julie and Jason,

        Thank you for noting the importance of promoting new tools within an organization. Without this step, the desired outcome of people benefiting from the tool may not be fully achieved. Lynda was made available to the employees at my organization a few months ago. The product was announced via a short email which, unfortunately, did not really convey the value and the goal. Anecdotally, I can say that a few departments are leveraging Lynda, but many are not taking advantage of the tool. I am going to suggest that manager’s get together to discuss ways to promote the tool. Departments using Lynda can share best practices, and others will gain new ideas. I appreciate the inspiration!

        CatOnKB

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good evening. Thank you for your response to my comments. I appreciate your suggestion of using the tool as a group in the training stage. I believe this shows not only that the organization is supporting the use of the tool, but also a group format might allow others to learn and support one another. Thank you for sharing your ideas. This particular suggestion is something I plan to utilize with the implementation of other new technology tools we may have coming on board in the near future. Thank you again.

        Jason

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Julie,
    Really enjoyed your review of Lynda. However, my brief comment here is to thank you for some great references in your responses. I look forward to discussing the points of both convincing skeptical employees as well as elements of the neuroscience around our connected world. Appreciate your curation!
    ~Tricia

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tricia, you are most welcome. I often feel the best way to encourage anything is to give people dedicated time and support. For example, my company really values volunteerism. Many of us would volunteer regardless, but it so much easier to schedule given the company allocates hours to take time off from work to do it. We still have to make it happen, and a lot of volunteering happens outside of those dedicated hours, but we know the activity is important at all levels.

      Julie

      Like

  6. Hi Unicorn Magis,

    I love Piktochart! I use it all the time both as an educator and in my adventures as a social media consultant. I have found that platform is reasonably priced for educators and it is very easy to use. One drawback is that you have to work and view the infographics on specific web browsers. The browser constraint is fine if only one person is viewing the graphic, but as a teacher, it ‘s hard to get all my students using the same browser. Still, Pappas (2016) offered several reasons to use infographics. First, they can simplify ideas or outline steps in a process. Second, infographics can lead to great information retention.

    -Shelli

    Pappas, C. (2016). 7 reasons to use infographics in online training. Elearning Industry. Retrieved from: https://elearningindustry.com/7-top-benefits-using-infographics-in-online-training

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In my Masters social media class, I have my students track their use of the internet for 5 days and then build an infographic illustrating what they found. They love the assignment…it is eye-opening…and Piktochart is the class favorite for building the graphs.

      Like

  7. Julie,

    Upon reading your description I was interested in where Lynda separated itself from other online course providers, such as Khan Academy or Cousera, especially considering those options are free. Did you manage to watch any of the Lynda courses or find any reviews of them? From looking at the course offerings between the various platforms there seem to be advantages for each. However, with Lynda being the only one that is a paid service I would be interested to see if those advantages were worth it.

    Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris, thank you for your additions! I am somewhat familiar with Coursera but was not aware of Khan Academy. I believe Coursera does charge for at least some of its offerings. Doing a quick contrast, one of Lynda’s selling points is the vast amount of material it has. Lynda appears to have more than double what Coursera provides. I have viewed a few Lynda offerings, and it is particularly geared toward visual learners, as it is entirely video instruction. That said, I have not put in enough time to make a completely fair assessment or comparison, but those are a couple of high level thoughts.

      Julie

      Like

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