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Can using free video tutorials through lynda.com enhance my teaching?

According to Lasse Johansson (Course Tutor, Open City Docs School within UCL Anthropology) the answer is “definitely”.

10 July 2015

As Course Tutor and workshop facilitator/filmmaker for the Master’s course ‘Ethnographic and Documentary Film by Practice’, Lasse has been involved with this past academic year’s pilot lynda.com subscription. He has worked with colleagues both at UCL and at lynda.com to support his use of the service and to create bespoke playlists with suitable tutorial videos for his course.

Lasse summarises, “Media is constantly developing so it is great to have something which is not only constantly updated but has been created to communicate concepts simply and effectively.”

Are you thinking of using lynda.com but are not sure where to start? The five questions below will get you started:

What is lynda.com?

lynda.com is a platform paid for by UCL which offers users free and professional videos supporting learning in software, creative and business skills. UCL has renewed its licence with lynda.com for a further two years, meaning any member of the UCL community can login with their ID and get unlimited access to thousands of videos created by expert teachers for whichever level of instruction you need.

How can it help my teaching?

In addition to teaching on the Masters Programme in Documentary filmmaking, Lasse is also teaching a nine-week undergraduate option course where students create their own documentary films. In selecting the course, students (who are from varying technical backgrounds) are required to have installed basic editing software on their machines and are made aware they will use lynda.com to self teach some of the technical aspects.

Lasse assigns a playlist to the course and tailors it to specific projects with the difficulty increased as the weeks progress. Playlists can be highly customised.  You can include whole courses of several hours in length or ‘cherry pick’ individual videos of just a few minutes to create a list that meets your exact needs.

There are a huge range of tutorial options – topics include anything from Audio to Teacher Tools, Design Skills to Writing. Lasse encourages staff to look through the options and tailor it to specific course and students. Given the limited time for teaching, it provides a go-to resource when suggesting extra learning as there is unlimited access at any time for students to independently self-teach. They are still able to ask for help in class, but the majority of the learning and practicing takes place outside of the classroom.

Lasse comments, “Most usefully, lynda.com allows me to focus on ‘quality’ teaching time; students learn the technical aspects independently which means I can concentrate on discussing and teaching the underlying concepts of editing.”

What do students think?

  • It’s fast and free access to professional quality tutorial videos specific to a huge range of skills which will be useful for their studies and beyond.
  • Before, students would learn skills through non visual hand-outs – now lynda.com provides a useful, visual aide which also allows for learning at their own pace.
  • The videos are up-to-date and have longevity. It means they can act as revision material whenever required.
  • Acts as access to their own virtual tutor as videos can be watched as often as needed

Any tips and advice for first time users?

Know what you are looking for when you use it. There are so many options that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Think about what you currently use, would like to use or what would be useful for your students and then integrate those tutorials in to your programme. It doesn’t need to be separate to what you do or a huge part of the course; use lynda.com to facilitate what you already currently do.

It’s easy to use and simple to navigate but spend a little time getting to know what’s on offer. You will then know what’s available to direct your students to when they need extra help. It also has the benefit of encouraging them to independently learn skills which is a key skill in itself.

Develop playlists you can reuse. By creating your own playlists of lynda.com tutorials, you will have a resource you can continually refer to within your teaching. Ultimately, pointing your students towards the playlist will free up quality time to focus on academic concepts and learning rather than technical aspects.

What support is available?

The UCL ISD website has all the support you need including a tutorial video for lynda.com itself.

If you would like to use lynda.com in your teaching, ISD can create a group for you that will enable you to assign playlists to your students and monitor their progress.  ISD and lynda.com are also happy to help you to find the right resources for your course and build your playlists.  All you need to provide is the module details and the names and user IDs of your students. Contact lynda@ucl.ac.uk to get started.