What I did in my holidays…Become a Manager with Lynda.com

Since summer 2016 the University of Edinburgh has provided a licence to Lynda.com online courses for staff and students. I spent some time in my Christmas break looking at this. I had already started to explore Lynda.com, watching several videos and completing the course ‘Learning with Lynda.com‘ which I’d recommend as a good starting point for those new to the resource.
Completing a course (which as far as I can see this means watching all the videos) gives you a certificate of completion – and this can be easily shared, for example on Twitter, Facebook or on your LinkedIn profile or downloaded as a PDF and printed out.

I found the course I completed interesting but I still wasn’t sure yet how to use Lynda.com for my own development – the courses are very short (most of them can be completed within an hour or two) – and are well presented and relevant – but the library is vast and offers many subjects relevant to my work (for example Education, Design and Business) . Each course give you certificate – I wasn’t sure what my next step was – beyond collecting a long list of certificates? Then I found the feature called Learning Paths that collates a selection of courses around a goal and this answered my question. I decided to take the next step and tackle the one to ‘Become a Manager‘ – which is made up of 9 courses:

1. New Manager Fundamentals
2. Hiring Your Team
3. Onboarding New Hires
4. Delegating Tasks to Your Team
5. Leading Productive Meetings
6. Managing for Results
7. Performance Review Fundamentals
8. Building Accountability Into Your Culture
9. Rewarding Employees

I was at home over the break so I decided to access this via the Lynda.com App on my Android tablet or phone as I usually have one of these devices to hand. The App gives a reduced selection of the Lynda.com features but does mean you can download content – so you can download a course when you have Wi-Fi and watch even when you don’t. The videos can be watched full screen and you can easily skip about within the course structure. Progress was synced to my account across multiple devices and progress watching the downloaded content was synced next time you had a connection.
Unfortunately the App doesn’t give you access to the ‘My Goals’ section of Lynda.com where you access the Learning Paths. So this first thing I did, to work around this, was to go to my laptop and add all the courses from this Learning Path to a Playlist – as I could see this via the App. Then, in odd pockets of time over the holiday, I watched the videos and worked through the courses. It was easy to squeeze this into odd moments – I would watch a couple of videos when I was cooking, or when I had a few minutes during the day. They are generally bite sized (I’d say three minutes on average) and include good recaps – so stopping and starting isn’t much of an issue. This activity probably replaced some time I would have spent reading the news or twitter online.

After a chunk of videos, say three or four, there is a short quiz and I found these really helpful to check if I’d understand what I’d just watched. Though the interface for questions on android devices was frustratingly temperamental – it requires you to drag the correct answer off the screen – but sometimes took several attempts to register this. I did persevere though, as I really wanted to check my answers.
Many of the courses also come with exercise files which can’t be accessed from App, but I will probably take a look at these now I’m back in the office – as several of them are templates that maybe useful in my work.

The App also doesn’t allow you to bookmark videos (which you can do on the website) and this I did miss, when watching the courses there were one or two videos that resonated, and that I wanted to go back to again or to discuss with colleagues – without the bookmark option it’s going to be harder to find these again. Hopefully Lynda.com will add this feature in time? I see in the App that I can share videos in various ways, so next time I will try to email details of key videos to myself.

What did I get from following a learning path that I wouldn’t have got from just choosing nine courses on management that I was interested in? I think that answer lies in the collation, basically I did watch courses that I wouldn’t have selected – because I was interested in the overall goal. This was on the basis that someone with more experience than me had selected appropriate courses and that therefore the relevance would become clearer to me in time. Some of the courses listed I didn’t initially think looked interesting or relevant – the course ‘Managing for Results’ for example, was much more relevant than it looked on the face of it. A couple of the courses used slightly different language (it being authored in the US) – for example ‘Onboarding New Hires’ is what I would have called New Staff Induction – so I wouldn’t have been able to find this by searching for it despite the relevant content. On the minus side, the legal aspects where focused on the US context, this was clearly stated but I still felt I had to watch through them to complete the course!

Once I completed the course I went to my laptop and added the certificate to my LinkedIn profile. This displays nicely and it links through to show the details of the Learning Path and the courses it contained. This would be valuable to staff and students for evidencing their knowledge and skills.

So having spent time exploring what it means to Become a Manager with Lynda.com – I’m now ready to relate this to my current work – feeling better prepared and more confident to develop my own experience as a manager in 2017.

Screen shot of the 'Become a Manager' Badge from Lynda.com on my  LinkedIn profile
The ‘Become a Manager’ Badge from Lynda.com on my LinkedIn profile

MELSIG – Social Media for Learning #1 at Liverpool John Moores University 3rd June 2014

I took a day trip to Liverpool for an event from the Media Enhanced Learning Special Interest Group (MELSIG) called ‘Social Media for Learning #1: promoting participation and engagement with social and digital media in higher education’. ‘That’s a long way in a day’ my colleague said, but how could I miss the opportunity of an event so relevant to the Social and Cloud Based Learning and Teaching Service that I support?

Photograph of a seagull looking inquisitively into a windowng inquisitvly to a window
I photographed this seagull who was very interested in joining the session on Pinterest, no doubt already an expert tweeter.

The full programme offered multiple streams of presentations and in this post I’m sharing brief notes of my highlights of the day.

I arrived part way through the key note from Sue Beckingham (from Sheffield Hallam University) but did manage to catch some useful links giving advice for students :

The Sheffield Hallam Social Media Guidance Leaflets

Professional online presences for Students, Podcasts

Also a useful resource for staff, from Professor Andy Miah (University of the West of Scotland) The A to Z of Social Media for Academia, which lists platforms used by acedemics in their professional lives (you can contribute to this by email or follow the hash tag #socialmediaHE)

Professor Miah also contributed a very watchable YouTube video on Social Media in Teaching and Learning

Twitter in Journalism

Steve Harrison (@newsnumeracy) from Liverpool Hallam University gave an interesting presentation about Twitter as a tool for teaching and learning in the context of an undergraduate Journalism course. He explained that in Journalism Twitter is part of the professional repertoire. When I questioned this later he explained that using Twitter cannot be optional for Journalism students as they would not be able to get a job without being able to use it. So expertise with Twitter is threaded through the three years of the course in increased levels of complexity. In first year students learn to write news tweets in 140 characters, in the second year students use protected Twitter accounts as part of an assessed piece of work and in the third year the students use public Twitter as a source which they use to research and distribute live news stories.

Facebook Groups

Several speakers were talking about the use of Facebook. Mark Feltham (@MarkFeltham666) from Liverpool John Moores University shared his approaches to teaching 1st year students a core module in fundamentals of science, which offered several challenges including large amounts of statistics and a Monday 9am teaching slot. His approach included an innovative mix of: flexible pedagogies; student choice; and the ‘maker ethos’; and utilised Facebook groups. Marks presentation offered 10 reasons why you should use Social media in your teaching including several which focus on Facebook as a familiar place for students (he found 99% of students are already on it) which is quick and easy to use. He also found it easy and more creative to set work in Facebook, for example posting videos or using tools like Bitstrips. It was found to be a great way to manage group work because it gave evidence of contribution and he could ‘scrape posts’ to document this.

Anne Nortcliffe from Sheffield Hallam University also spoke about using Facebook to manage a computing course on which she taught. The students volunteered to set up and manage the closed group and also came with Anne to MELSIG to talk about their experiences. It was interesting to hear from the students directly and they spoke enthusiastically about this approach. They liked being able to see who had seen what was posted and that you could ‘tag’ people to draw their attention to things , features they don’t have in their VLE. They liked it because no one got left out of events if they were organised in Facebook. They also found it the easiest way to contact someone and worked out that tagging their tutor Anne was the best way to get her to contribute to a discussion. They described Facebook as ‘second nature for students’.

LinkedIn advice for Students

Charlotte Cork,  World of Work Team manager, Liverpool John Moores University offered advice on LinkedIn from the context of advising students, but much of which is applicable also to staff profiles. For example I now know that I can change my ‘professional headline’ rather than leaving it at its default setting of my current job title. She suggests that part of the value of LinkedIn for students is the insights that can be gained from looking at the profiles of people working in your field, their skills and career paths.

LinkedIn Advice for Students in Higher Education

Using Pinterest to bridge theoretical gaps

Oli Young of Sheffield Hallam University, described his use of Pinterest as a tool to bridge theoretical gaps. He is teaching subjects such as Business Management, Hospitality, Finance and Legislation to students at level 4, 5 & 6 with little work experience. The students have a task to plan an international conference, and use Pinterest as a board to collect resources, such as venues and destinations. This means that when students move on to further aspects of the process they already have developed a context for the project and so it is more meaningful and less abstract.

#MELSIGJMU

As you might anticipate there was a lot of Twitter activity for this event which you can see ‘storified’ here: https://storify.com/melsiguk/melsig-social-media-for-learning-1

The focus of the day was on use of social media tools but I was interested to note that most speakers also talked about using the institutional VLE alongside these for other aspects on the course such as core content or assignment drop boxes. It interests me to see how the pieces such as core supported systems, external tools and service integrations  fit together in different institutions.

Links

The presentations from this event can be found here.

MELSIG has a forthcoming event BYOD4L Bring Your Own Devices for Learning an open (registration free) learning event for students & teachers (facilitated, stand-alone, for other groups/courses) running online 14th – 18th July 2014.