Training is both a bug bear or big business and something that we all know we should look to do. Learning has got easier in the last decade and particularly in the last couple of years with online videos becoming the norm in several industries. To serve this a number of Mooks and online training companies have sprung up particularly serving those already in the IT industry.
Lynda.com was one of the first to arrive starting in 1995 and is one of the biggest and most regarded. It sold to LinkedIn in 2015 but is carrying on as a separate company.
Some video sites are aimed at specific industries or specific jobs but Lynda seems to be trying to be and have everything a small IT focused business would need. It looks as business practices and efficiency, marketing (particularly online), design and covers a range of things that you could try and do creatively on a computer. As a small business founder who frequently finds himself wearing many hats at once I was intrigued by the idea and there was something in almost every category that I wanted to know about.
I started with the Premium Subscription in the last few days of 2015 and for the last month I’ve used it for at least 20 minutes a day. I spent the first couple of weeks bouncing around from course to course and have settled down to get through courses for the last couple of weeks.
So how was it? I was surprised by how different all the courses were. Some were presented just talking to the camera, some were entirely screen captures or slides and others were almost acted out. The thing that tied them together was that the presenters all seemed to know what they were talking about and that they were technically good – good sound and camera work. The range of courses bore out what I expected and although I’ve not gotten deep everywhere I’ve not found something significant missing yet.
Price: £12.95 – £22.95
Lynda operates with two tiers. The simplified version is that Basic gets you access to all the videos and Premium also gets you the project files and (if an annual Premium) offline viewing on mobile phones and tablets. You get a discount if you subscribe annually rather than monthly.
There are also group memberships available for more than 5 people aimed at businesses and organisations and a free membership that lets you preview courses.
Lynda was formed in 1996 as a support for Professor Lynda Weinman who taught special effects and multimedia with her husband. They expanded slowly and started offering online only courses in 2002. This expanded quickly and by 2015 they had over 500 employees and revenues of over $100 million. They were acquired by LinkedIn in mid 2015 although they’ll continue to run fairly independently but with the ability to show course completions on LinkedIn.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
Lynda was started as a site for creatives who use computers and create multimedia special effects. They’ve expanded many times since then but the core of this is still obvious. The site is divided down in several ways but the main topics covered are: 3D and Animation, Audio and Music, Business, CAD, Design, Developer, Education and E Learning, IT, Marketing, Photography, Video and Web.
To find the right course you can either search, click down through the menu system or pick from a huge A-Z list. You can refine searches by skill level, specific software or OS, Author and by if closed captioning is available.
Once you’ve started taking courses the site will start recommending courses that it thinks will be relevant to you and this can be sped up somewhat by preselecting your interests and what software and OS you use.
Each course is divided into chapters which are anywhere between 30 seconds and 10 minutes long. Depending on the course the video might be slides, a screen capture, the presenter talking to the camera or a mixture of all of them. Underneath the video is a transcript that highlights where the presenter has got to and a window to take notes.
Lynda’s site is very simply and cleanly designed. There is a single top menu bar that is consistent on every page and lets you get to anywhere with its drop down menus. The site has iPhone and iPad apps, Android (Google Play and Amazon App Store), a Windows 8 app, a Windows Desktop App and a Mac OSX app. They can also be played on your TV with AirPlay for the Apple devices and Chromecast for Android.
The video’s have very different styles depending on the subject matter and presenter but I’ve not found one that wasn’t well lit and with good sound. Some of the presenters could do with sounding a little less stilted but they all have the technical expertise.
Most courses have downloadable files which are supposed to enhance the experience by helping you follow along and mimic what the presenter is doing. In some cases such as Photoshop courses I found these genuinely useful – learning by doing – but for others they seemed to have been added more to tick the box that the course had them available.
Environment & People
Lynda has no specific environmental credentials but training online would generally have a smaller environmental impact than training in person with associated travel would.
There’s no two ways about it – Lynda.com is a fairly expensive product. Online courses are usually free (YouTube) or charge per course making them significantly cheaper on a course by course basis. If you’re looking to take a number of courses and want to squeeze them into a month or over a year then it becomes a lot more sensible.
If you compare it to the other end of the spectrum – person to person or live courses online then Lynda comes off significantly more economic.
The site needs a modern browser with an internet access capable of streaming video but almost any broadband connection could do this. The Android app needs 4.0 or later, the iOS 7.0 or later, the Windows 8 app any Windows Metro system (including RT), the Windows Desktop Windows 7 or later and the OSX app 10.9 or later.
Lynda.com is a high quality online video repository that will serve your needs well if their videos are about what you need to learn. The site and apps are well designed and straightforward and cater to almost any system. The site is somewhat expensive when looked at from an individuals perspective but when you compare it to comparable levels of training in particular for companies its actually quite economic. That price does put it out of the range of the casual learner but is realistic for companies.
The most important thing about the site is the quality and range of the videos. The quality if unarguable and I’d encourage you to create a preview account which gives you access for 10 days and see if the range suits you. Chances are that if you run a small online business or are a creative then it will. Recommended.
The review is based on the a Premium Membership of Lynda.com kindly provided by LinkedIn. This article was first published on 2nd February 2016.