Ten New Year’s learning resolutions with lynda.com

Published by | Thursday, December 29th, 2011

One of my favorite things about being part of the team at lynda.com is that everyone—staff, authors, and members alike—shares a passion for life-long learning. My colleagues on the Content team not only work hard to plan the best training possible on the subjects most critical to our members, but we also take advantage of the vast Online Training Library® to solve problems, learn skills outside our respective wheelhouses, or just stare hypnotically (and sometimes enviously) at the amazing stuff our lynda.com colleagues have created.

I was thinking about all this in light of my personal ambitions for 2012. It seems to me the standard (failed) New Year’s resolution has two strikes against it right from the outset. First, it usually involves some kind of annoying self-deprivation I’m not emotionally ready for. And second, I don’t usually have the resources readily at hand to shore up my chances for success.

But this year I have a new plan for 2012—one that’s made possible by the carefully crafted content my talented colleagues have created in the past 12 months. Rather than withhold good things from myself, I’m going to luxuriously dive into the lynda.com Online Training Library® to help me with some of my learning goals and intellectual curiosities. No deprivation, no willpower, no need to schlep to the gym with all the other January wannabes, just me happily keeping my resolution to learn new and useful things with the following content to help me indulge my goals:

1. Manage my time more effectively. Dave Crenshaw’s Time Management Fundamentals course was a big hit with members this year. I knew it was also resonating with the lynda.com staff when I heard the nefarious term switchtasking bandied in more than one meeting. Here’s a free-to-all movie that explains how trying to do two things at once makes them both take longer and become harder to do well:

2. Begin to understand code. As an author, blogger, and wrangler of wonderful designers dedicated to teaching design tools, I have the basic skills I need to tweak a blog post in HTML or search for structural issues in an .inx file, but that’s as close as I get to understanding code. And yet, the idea of learning programming calls at the edges of my creative consciousness the same way wanting to paint with watercolors does. Simon Allardice’s Foundations of Programming: Fundamentals is a compelling, and more importantly, non-patronizing tool for getting your bearings in the world of creating through code. This What is programming? movie from chapter one is a great sample, and Simon’s wonderful presentation makes me actually want more programming exploration:

3. Organize my 2011 digital photos (before I start taking 2012 pics). I used to be an editor of books on digital photography, including two editions of the seminal text on the subject of digital asset management. I’ve had advice from the very best. And yet, I’m still horrible about organizing my digital photos. Derrick Story’s Organizing and Archiving Digital Photos is full of practical information that you can put to use to organize your photo library without pressure or recrimination. If you’re a lynda.com member, dive into chapter six with Derrick’s Setting strategies for using keywords segment. For non-members, start with Dealing with your legacy collection in chapter three.

4. Make sure meetings are worth everyone’s time, including mine. The members of my brilliant team at lynda.com mostly work from their respective homes across the country. That being said, although I don’t have the same dread of meetings that many people who work full-time in an office do because I’m often desperate for human connection regardless, I have discovered that, from home or in an office, a satisfyingly effective meeting can really connect you to your colleagues in a way that’s critical for distributed teams. Enter Dave Crenshaw again with his Effective Meetings course, and particularly this lynda.com member-exclusive video on Meeting virtually. For non-members, check out Understanding the principles of successful meetings in chapter one.

5. Create effective and engaging blog posts. In Online Marketing Fundamentals, Lorrie Thomas Ross had me when she said, “Blogs are facts married to opinion.” I love her advice to make your personality come through in the blog, and I’ve clearly taken it to heart. Members of lynda.com should check out this movie, Blog Content creation ideas in chapter eight, to see why Lorrie is a woman after my own heart (and in possession of some really great advice.) Non members can get a broader view of the topic with Components of online marketing in chapter one.

6. Effectively Draw at least one simple shape in Adobe Illustrator. I’ve written a book on Photoshop and created that book (and many others) in InDesign. I feel functionally comfortable with both applications, but for some reason Illustrator has always daunted me. When we launched Deke’s Techniques at the beginning of 2011, I forced myself to go step by step through every Illustrator technique just to see if I could follow along. Deke’s video on how to draw a heart in Illustrator (lesson number 42 in the Deke’s Techniques series) gave me that “I rule” moment that convinced me I may one day be able to add this application to my skill set. (And it also prepares you for Valentine’s Day, so I’m one holiday ahead of the game.) Check it out:

7. Communicate with color in video. My esteemed colleague who handles the training courses for the Video segment here at lynda.com, Rob Garrott, launched a weekly series in 2011 called Design in Motion. Some of the content is way over my video-novice head, but this movie on Communicating emotion through color correction got me thinking I might actually be able to foray with relative confidence into communicating effectively and emotionally within the video medium.

8. Get the most from my new camera. Although I haven’t indulged in a new camera this year, the new collection of courses from Ben Long helps people who have the most recent Canon and Nikon offerings learn how to use their particular toys to take well-crafted photos. And if my budget doesn’t come through with a new camera in 2012, there’s always Ben’s general Foundations of Photography series. Try this intro from the Exposure edition and see if you can resist watching the rest of the course:

9. Set up speakers for good sound. The Audio segment at lynda.com got a huge boost of content this year. In the popular Audio Mixing Bootcamp, industry expert Bobby Owsinski covers all the tips and tricks a budding audiophile might need. And although I may never master the art of sound, watching this helpful Determining the audio listening position movie from chapter one may inspire me to get that speaker in my office out from behind the potted plant.

10. Take beautiful pictures of all the delicious food I’m not avoiding. Finally, since I have no pressure to deprive myself of gourmet meals in charming restaurants this year, I can spend some time with noted food photographer Bill Robbins’ course on Food and Drink Photography guilt-free. Chapter seven includes a great lynda.com member-exclusive video on Finding the right location and lighting in your favorite restaurant to take the best photos of your dinner. My foodie friends on Twitter will be drooling with envy.

What are your hopes, big and small, for learning in the new year? What are your favorite lynda.com movies for providing the inspiration and instruction that you need to move toward them? The Content team and entire staff at lynda.com will be working hard to bring you what you most need in 2012, and until then, we wish you the most peaceful, joyous, and learning-rich new year.

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11 Responses to “Ten New Year’s learning resolutions with lynda.com”

  1. Yazmin says:

    Great suggestions. I really like the idea of building my skills instead of looking forward to a year of NOT doing something I dislike about myself. Happy New Year!

  2. Joe Oviedo says:

    Hi Colleen. You really did a great job pushing content all along 2011, at a faster pace that I had ever seen. I always want to dive in into as many content as possible. One idea that I want to share with you is “lynda.com university” or “lynda.com path’s to greatness”.
    What I mean with this is yes, “it is a library” and you can quickly access any theme, subject or knowledge you need. But what about following a road, a path. Say I want to become a great digital animator using flash. So to do that lynda.com suggest you start with Course A, then Course B, then a Lynda Documentary, then Course C, if you really want to be a master take Course D and then you have arrived. Sure I can do this on my own, but you already have the content and know it better than us. In my experience it will give me a great peace of mind, that I am taking the right course, at the right time, in the right order to really become the professional that I want in the skill that I need or want. What do you think? Thanks for your time. J.

  3. @Yazmin, thank you. It does seem easier to get excited about learning new things than breaking bad habits. Happy New Year to you as well.

  4. @Joe Oviedo I think you’ll find that my colleagues and I agree with you whole-heartedly about establishing learning paths through our amazing (if occasionally overwhelming) amounts of excellent content. We’ve got some ideas for the year ahead (more positive resolutions) that are right in keeping with what you suggest. Great point about finding a path to greatness through that library.

  5. inkerbelle says:

    Like this. Love Lynda!

  6. Ana F. says:

    Yep, that’s what I need the most too. Tools are great, but in which order to use them? I find more often than not that I get confused and overwhelmed by so many choices, without guidance.
    Can’t wait what you guys at lynda will come up with.
    Love the site, otherwise!
    Thanks.

  7. GG says:

    First I want to say thank you for a great website. I love, love, love Ben Long’s photography courses. He is fantastic. Second, I agree with you. Let’s focus on adding brainage to our brain instead of limiting substance to our physique. I must say though that it is so much easier to learn a video course while on my treadmill using my iPad. What a jewel!
    Thank you lynda.com

  8. Joe Oviedo says:

    Awesome Colleen. Glad to hear we are on the same page. Thanks and keep up the good work. Saludos! y Feliz Año Nuevo.

  9. Stanford Griffith says:

    I agree with Joe. I want a check list of courses in order for specific subjects. I find Deke’s courses are the best defined for learning and the Web ones the most jumbled, especially as some of those courses are older and outdated, which makes deciding what and when to take a course even more difficult. Those with prerequisites at the start provide a good baseline for what is needed to understand the materials.

    Still, I love Lynda.com, and improving my skills is always on my to-do list.

  10. That’s really valuable feedback @Stanford, and @Joe I’m really glad you started this conversation. Other than numbered lists or progressions of experience (beginner, intermediate, advanced), what do you think a valuable path would provide? Do you work by task (“masking hair”) or just try to build your skills across the board and presume that will help you get to where you want to go? Would it be useful to design pathways based on who you want to be rather than what you want to know? All feedback appreciated!

  11. Stanford Griffith says:

    I see the task and general knowledge paths as running parallel. I would prefer to actually see both as I tend to learn the most from specific, targeted courses, but I also understand that a solid background in an area is key to getting the most out of the software and vital to completing any task.

    For example, you can’t really mask hair without understanding masks, layers, alpha channels, brushes, calculations, etc. And you can’t design a web menu without understanding html and css and possibly javascript and jquery.

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