Learning new software on Lynda.com

I discovered Lynda at work. I didn’t really want to, I was scheduled to take Maya training and seriously, I didn’t give a flying crap about Maya. I still don’t, though now I’ve done the class, I see it’s not that big of a shift from the other 3D software I know. I’m just not too big on 3D. Texturing is fun. Modeling can be fun. But the reality of 3D where I used to work had much more to do with missing plugins and optimizing someone else’s crap than any real modeling, texturing, or anything creative at all.
So I was given a Lynda.com account and dragged kicking and screaming to the Maya Essentials training. I did the training. It was very well done. Everything was complete and well structured and involved doing a project from start to finish (this one involved animating a dog on a scooter riding on a perpetual street wrapped around a sphere.) I got curious and started checking Lynda on my own time. And I thought what a shame that amongst all the tutorials available, I’m being forced to take Maya, so I started adding other tutorials on my queue and doing them in my own time.

That’s my current queue. You can see the tittle of the course, how much of it I have done so far and how long is left. I can also reorder them or remove the course from the queue.

How does it work?

Lynda is subscription based. At the moment, a basic membership is 25$ a month and a premium membership is 37.50$ a month, the difference being access to the exercise files. Both levels access the exact same classes, but you can’t have the exercise files with the basic membership.

The good thing is that you don’t have to pay right now. You can go visit Lynda.com and see what the courses are and even watch a few sample videos to see what it’s all about. Adobe also has a few Lynda videos on their website, to get you started with some of their programs. I started Dreamweaver like that, but then I got frustrated and got my own membership to see all of the Dreamweaver videos.

The other good thing is you can sign up and cancel right away. That means you can pay for just one month and  use it for the whole month, but you don’t get the automatic renewal that everyone forgets about. And you can reactivate your account later and use your old queue and everything. It’s perfect when you want to learn very specific things.

Once you have your active membership, you can start queueing  courses and watching away.

What can Lynda do for  me?

Lynda is a subscription based website filled with technical tutorials. It’s not there to teach you how to draw, how to animate, how to make something beautiful, or how to write. It’s not there to give you fundamentals at all. Lynda is a very technical website with very technical videos. It’s there to teach you software, standards or coding skills. It also has some more “soft” skills videos, for example documentaries about creative people and how to be a good salesperson but I don’t feel like they are really the strength of Lynda.

Exemple of some of the subjects covered.

The strength of Lynda is taking someone who has never ever used a fairly complex piece of software, like Maya or Dreamweaver or skill, like web design and holding  their hand until they can use the software or the skill. I went from someone who hand-coded html in notepad following 2002 standards to being proficient in Dreamweaver and up-to-date on current standards in a few weeks in my spare time.

I even took the Youtube training, because it as short and I was curious. I actually learned quite a few things. Of course I already knew how to watch videos onYoutube, and it might sound silly to take a Youtube training, but they cover stuff like the best formats of videos to be uploaded and the Youtube traffic stats one gets on their videos and channels. The length and complexity of the courses vary greatly, some are just 2 hours long (because, seriously, how long can you spend on PayPal or Youtube training?) while some clock at over 18 hours (like Maya Essentials.) Some take you from the very beginning and some are fairly advanced, and some are very specific, like how to do a horizontal menu with software X using standard X.

Are there things Lynda can’t do for me?

With Lynda, you are basically on your own. There is no feedback and you can’t just raise your hand if something doesn’t make sense. Fortunately for me, this didn’t happen much because the content is very well made. But sometimes I was wondering if the content I was looking at was compliant with a new standard or searching where that contextual menu came from and I had to dig by myself.

Some tutorials address best practice, but you are not going to get critiques or advice on your work. I think for some, Lynda can replace formal education, especially if you are looking at learning specific technical skills, software, scripting. If you already own or have access to the software, the Lynda is a very cost-effective way to master it. On the other hands, not every one can afford Maya or Adobe Master Suite, especially without educational rates, so for some things, it’s still more affordable to take classes in person.  Also, Lynda never gives you deadlines and doesn’t grade you, so you better be able to motivate yourself. It happens that’s not much of a problem for me.

Ironically, I got laid off after having mostly finished the Maya tutorial. So I got my own account and decided to learn Dreamweaver and get myself up to date with current html and css standard. The result is that I have a new portfolio web site, so I invite you to visit it and see for yourself what I did with my time and my Dreamweaver training.

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