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DoTS recommends a learning service that takes users back to the future

Falcon News Service

October 24, 2017

Junior communication sciences and disorders major Haley Ahart, left and sophomore biomedical sciences Christy Becthold work together on a computer in Chalmer Davee Library, Wednesday, Oct. 25. Photo by Tori Schneider/Student Voice

Junior communication sciences and disorders major Haley Ahart, left and sophomore biomedical sciences Christy Becthold work together on a computer in Chalmer Davee Library, Wednesday, Oct. 25. Photo by Tori Schneider/Student Voice

Sometimes, the best way to learn a new piece of software is to revert to an older version, according to several UW-River Falls technologists who use Lynda.com for such forays.

“You can move through time with Lynda,” said Brett Kallusky, assistant professor of art photography. “You can go through an entire history of a program to see how it’s developed. It’s kind of wild.”

The website known as Lynda.com is offered to students and faculty to not only teach them how to fully utilize the latest and greatest software technology but also to enable them to see what previous editions of the software programs looked like and how drastically some of them differ from their most current versions.

“I’ve been teaching Photoshop since Photoshop CS, before they had a 1 or a 2,” Kallusky said. “You don’t have to do the latest work; you can also use programs that are older.”

Despite the age of the programs, students are accessing Lynda.com to help give themselves additional help in their most challenging technology-based classes.

“I used it in my computer science class per recommendation of my professor,” said Rachel Anderson, a senior at UWRF. “We could just go to the online videos, watch them, and then figure it out on our own, which was convenient because then I didn’t have to take time out of my day to go to office hours.”

In addition to the time that students might save by not having to set up an appointment with their professor in order to learn one more step in maneuvering the given software program, students are also using the access that they have to Lynda.com to save significant amounts of money.

“The price that we got for this service was unbeatable,” said Joe Kmiech, executive director of the Division of Technology Services. “Typically, as an individual, if you were to get a subscription, you pay 30 bucks a month for a subscription to Lynda.com. We’re paying well under that for an annual subscription for each individual.”

If you divide the entire cost that UWRF pays for the program by the number of people on campus with access to the website, it comes out to $1.50 per student for not just a month but for the entire year, according to Kmiech.

The value for the website to students, however, is much more far-reaching than only gaining skills related to software programs.

“There’s anything from learning how to use software like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint to business skills, job interviewing skills, learning how to build a resume, all sorts of things,” Kmiech said.

When it comes to things like job-seeking skills and putting together their first resume, students at UWRF commonly enlist the help that the campus’ Career Services provides. However, Lynda.com provides students with many of the same skills that students obtain through traditional campus services.

“Theirs is going to be more tailored to our students here at River Falls,” Kmiech said. “It should be the first stop. The services through Lynda.com would be a supplement, something you could do on your own during winter break.”

No matter what the use is for, DoTS is more than willing to refer students and faculty for that matter to Lynda.com whenever the demands exceed the level of support that DoTS is able or obligated to provide.

“If it’s a training need, how to use a piece of software, definitely we would be recommending Lynda.com,” Kmiech stated. “We don’t have staffing within DoTS for a trainer to be on campus to offer weekly classes. When you have a service like this, you can have hundreds of different topics available instead of just one or two. I encourage people to use it for a lot of things.”

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