Taz is here recording Photoshop CS4: Color Correction, Lesa is recording internal movies for our staff related to iStockPhoto usage, Jay is recording QuarkXpress 8 Essential Training, Max is our lead training producer and he’s making sure our authors are eating a well-produced meal, Jan is here for a staff meeting, but her next project is Photoshop CS4: Selections in Depth, Megan is relating in her Author Relations role at lynda.com, and Bruce is here for the good meal and conversation with me, who is not in the shot as I am behind the lens taking the photo. We have meals with authors all the time, and now that I am blogging I hope to document these occasions and let you know which authors are in town and what new courses they are cooking up.
My first memory of Taz is from the late 1990′s when I observed his blurry figure running up and down a giant escalator as fast as he could in the lobby of a hotel where a photography trade show was taking place. Years later, when he first came to record video classes at lynda.com in 2004, we invited him to our house for dinner. Bruce and I will never forget Taz showing up, covered in mud from a local hike he took after work, with a live caterpillar poking out of his curly hair! These two examples describe some of the many sides of Taz Tally. He’s a digital photography master, a fitness fanatic, sports a Ph.D. in geology, and is a true mountain man who loves to hike and explore the wild.
Taz is currently recording a photography color correction course using Photoshop CS4. He pitched the idea to me of creating a fitness video sharing all the techniques he uses when traveling, working at his desk, or how to take advantage of every day situations and objects instead of gyms and cumbersome equipment. What do you think? Are we ready for fitness videos at lynda.com?
I am usually the reassuring one; helping others get past the “feeling dumb” part, and into the mindset of being open to learning new things. Now that I’m officially a blogger (took me long enough, eh?) I wanted to learn how to make my picture show up next to my comments.
The process was a little uncomfortable, but it worked. I logged on to the free service at http://en.engravitar.com and followed the directions. Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar. I used the same email address that I use when I post a comment to our blog. Magically, once I loaded my image there, it appeared in our blog next to my comments.
It’s weird to me that one disparate service can tie my email address to my picture off my hard drive to unrelated software that we use for blogging. We’ve apparently set up our WordPress software to acknowledge the gravatar image plugin. I hope you’ll comment on this post by uploading your pictures to gravatar and seeing the magic happen yourselves. It’s easy, fun and a little weird. And it even makes a person who is feeling dumb feel a little more cheeky.
Lee Brimelow, a lynda.com author who has created courses in After Effects, Flash, and Expression Web, wrote to me out of the blue the other day and proposed a course on Flash Player 10.
When creating Flash movies, websites, or applications, it is important to know all the new features of the authoring tool. But it is just as important to know the capabilities of the latest version of the Flash player. Each new version of the player introduces support for the latest and greatest features, many which are not exposed in the authoring environment.
Flash Player 10 introduced a ton of new creative capabilities, from 3D, advanced Text effects, Pixel Bender (like filter effects you’d find in Photoshop, only over time), to new sound and drawing APIs. This course will explain how to tap into these new features to take your Flash work to the next level.
It’s been a few years since Lee contributed to the lynda.com Online Training Library; he’s been busy with his blogs, The Flash Blog, gotoandlearn, Flashermag, and working as Platform Evangelist for Adobe Systems focusing on the Flash, Flex and AIR communities.
Needless to say, the course idea is approved in the queue to record soon. We’re honored to work again with Lee; he fits the profile perfectly as an author with true passion, deep knowledge, and he’s addicted to sharing!
I was in Mountain View, California on Wednesday 5/6/09 at a lynda.com video shoot for an upcoming Creative Inspiration documentary profiling Duarte Design. Their space is so inspiring!
Good design in an office space really makes my heart sing. It was also inspiring to meet another female entrepreneur who started her business with her husband, has a family, created a book, does training, and has a company. It’s almost freaky! Nancy Duarte is the author of the beautiful book Slide:ology, and has built a business around creating compelling PowerPoint presentations.
I know a lot of people don’t put the words ‘PowerPoint’ and ‘compelling’ in the same sentence, but Duarte Design has a 65(!) person staff of artists and storytellers who transform the art of presentation. The lynda.com documentary will be completed by end of year; meanwhile head over to Nancy’s site and blog and check it out!!!
My last post about Joomla! triggered some buzz in the twittersphere and prompted more discussion. Jen Kramer wrote to me that Maria Langer (lynda.com WordPress 2.7 Essential Training author) contacted her:
Maria Langer contacted me by Twitter and said she’d love it if you asked the same question about a WordPress course. Now I’m wondering if we couldn’t make this a more generic series of movies, suitable for Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla. They all have the same starting place for their customized templates/themes — a static HTML web page.
Tom Geller (lynda.com Drupal Essential Training author) has been coordinating a CMS Overview course that would explain the strengths and weaknesses of the different systems and help newcomers navigate which choice to make.
So, open question to you all – what are we missing in our various CMS courses?
One of our lynda.com authors, Jen Kramer, and I are scheduled to talk this week about an idea for a new course. Jen is the author of Joomla! Creating and Editing Custom Templates and Joomla! Advanced CSS in the lynda.com Online Training Library®, and creates Joomla! based sites through her company, 4Web.
Since publishing these courses with us, Jen tells me she has been surprised by the number of lynda.com members who have written in asking her how to make the graphics and base-line web site assets/HTML for Joomla! sites. She had wrongly assumed that most people already knew how to do this, and we’ll be talking about creating a course to explain these details.
A whole new generation of web publishers are coming in through the CMS (content management system) door (i.e. WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla!), and their learning process is different than those of us who started in web development and design before CMS existed.
I’m planning to green-light her new course suggestion for a Joomla! web basics course because I love to find new ways to support the diverse membership of lynda.com. One of the joys of building the library is to listen to what members want to know, and fill the holes and gaps.
What would you like to see in a Joomla! course that focused on building design, forms and HTML assets?
Recently we launched Certificates of Completion; a new tracking system that awards certificates to active members who complete a course in our Online Training Library. Each course completed earns a new certificate for that course. The question was bound to come up – will we ever offer tests and “real” certification; something that assesses a member’s actual skill?
At this point we have no plans to offer tests, though I’m curious to hear your opinions on ideas we’ve discussed internally. The easiest type of test to implement would be multiple-choice questions that would test your memorization of the course’s key points. From our end, this type of test would require upfront work to write the questions, but then could be run automatically, just like our current Certificates of Completion. We would probably have to charge for these tests as we would have costs associated with creating them, but the extra fees would nominal.
As a long time educator, I’m not a fan of multiple-choice testing. I think it tests memorization and rote learning skills instead of critical thinking skills, artistic skills, problem solving skills, or communication skills.
If we were to introduce assessment, I’d prefer that it be in the form of active learning assignments that would demonstrate true understanding versus good test-taking skills. One idea is to implement a Certificates of Merit program that could be overseen by industry experts, or we could open up the award process via a community-voting engine. Once the certification becomes performance-based rather than test-taking based, the overhead for us to manage and implement would be higher, and this would likely have to be a much more costly type of add on to our service. But the benefit to you would far outweigh that of the multiple-choice option: Employers and potential clients would have proof that you really know your stuff, I suppose we could even offer each of these options, if there were a demand.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas! Please take a couple minutes to complete our poll, and I invite you to leave your comments.