University News

Community embraces free video tutorial site

Lynda.com sees around 2,000 unique visits from Brown community since being made available

By
Contributing Writer
Monday, September 28, 2015

Students seeking to master Adobe Photoshop or learn Java basics have a new resource at their fingertips.

Two hundred sixty-one Brown community members have earned certificates on Lynda.com — a site that provides video tutorials on thousands of programs — since the University began offering free site access in July, said Ravi Pendse P’17, vice president for Computing and Information Services.

The Lynda.com access is the next step in a multi-year plan to make Brown a leader in technology amongst its peers, Pendse said. “When people ask, ‘who is using technology most appropriately?’” he said, “we want Brown to be in the discussion.”

The site has received around 2,000 unique visitors from the University, including around 1,000 undergraduates and graduate students, more than 600 staff members and more than 400 faculty members, Pendse said. He added that he expects the number of visitors to increase as students learn of the free access through Morning Mail announcements, word of mouth and Undergraduate Council of Students publicity.

The introduction of Lynda.com follows the release of several other popular programs to the Brown community. In the past 18 months, the University began providing free access to Microsoft Office, Rosetta Stone and Adobe Creative Cloud Suite. As a training tool, Lynda.com can help community members learn to use programs in the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite like Photoshop and InDesign, as well as computer language programs like Python and Java.

Lynda.com “makes available the most courses in both technology space and non-technology space,” Pendse said. He emphasized that this capacity reflects what Brown — with its open curriculum and freedom to construct one’s own education — is all about. “We are providing one more tool for that,” he said.

Though awareness of Lynda.com is still growing, students who have accessed the site expressed positive feedback.

Karishma Swarup ’19 said she tested out Lynda.com because she was “so excited about having this great resource” and it offered the prospect of “learning something cool.”

Adam Gottesman ’16 said the site has hundreds of “awesome” tutorials. He noted that the instructors in the videos “didn’t seem like actors” and instead came across as knowledgeable, experienced individuals in their fields. Gottesman used Lynda.com for tutorials on interviewing with consulting companies and finding jobs after graduation. He said he found the site to be a helpful resource, adding, “I’m bummed that (the Univeristy) didn’t offer it earlier.”

Soraya Ferdman ’18 had previously heard of Lynda.com, but she only tried it once Brown started providing free access. She said she has used the site to learn Illustrator and Photoshop, adding that the array of tutorials “appeals to all creative styles.”

Justine Hastings, associate professor of economics, wrote in an email to The Herald that she finds value in Lynda.com as a resource for basic programming lessons in her lab. The site provides opportunities to continue learning as technology “rapidly develops and changes,” she wrote, adding that this free access helps ensure that Brown remains a leader in research.

Looking ahead, CIS hopes to introduce a free video conferencing platform as its next initiative, Pendse said. The platform would offer a superior experience to Google Hangout and Skype, he said.