U3 A1 Eyes Wide Shut (not the movie)

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Throughout this last month in our LRNT 526 course, I have been exploring the use of Lynda.com videos and tutorials as an online instructional supplement and/or substitute for in-house instructor-customized recordings on similar topics. What I have come to realize during my critical inquiry is that my eyes have been wide shut – not to be confused with the 1999 Stanley Kubrick film of that same name!

At the start of this critical inquiry, my focus was evaluating how the adoption of Lynda.com videos, or curated video libraries could be used to supplement online instruction; mostly for cost reduction purposes. I was sidetracked by the abundance of topics, polished video quality, video speed variations, and content chunking of Lynda videos…in other words, all the ‘bells and whistles’. Through the process of critical inquiry into the implications of using Lynda.com from a pedagogical and business perspective, I realized my focus was not on how this technology could support learning, which I alluded to in my previous blog post.

Shifting gears to concentrate on pedagogical perspectives, one of the areas I explored was Merrill’s (2002) First Principles of Instruction who outlined five principles of instruction for problem-centered instruction:

“Learning is promoted when…

  1. learners are engaged in solving real-world problems.
  2. existing knowledge is activated as a foundation for new knowledge.
  3. when new knowledge is demonstrated to the learner.
  4. when new knowledge is applied by the learner.
  5. when new knowledge is integrated into the learner’s world “ (pp. 44-45).

 

If we look at using Lynda.com or other curated video libraries through the lens of Merrill’s (2002) First Principles of Instruction then the technology in this instance is a tool and perhaps the broader question is if learning is afforded through the use of this tool (Lynda.com videos)? Offering up a cautionary line of thinking backed by research on the use of multimedia technology, Krippel, McKee, & Moody (2010) remind us that:

“The overriding conclusion would be that pedagogy must drive educational technology usage rather than the reverse. New technology is always accompanied by unrealistic expectations of its revolutionary advantages and universal applicability” (p. 6).

Although video-based learning is not a new phenomenon, Lynda.com has repackaged it into a rather convenient learning educational technology product. However, beyond its glitz and polished appeal, it is still one tool of many that can be used in combination of others within an appropriate context to support learning. I am hesitant to claim there is a depth and breadth of learning that takes place, especially without any means of assessment or feedback to learners who use it. Needless to say, my eyes are opening wider as a result of this critical inquiry.

References

Krippel, G., McKee, A.J., & Moody, J. (2010). Multimedia use in higher education: Promises and pitfalls. Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, 2, 1-8. Retrieved from Aabri manuscripts 09239 on February 3, 2015.

Kubrick, S. (Producer), & Kubrick, S. (Director). (1999). Eyes wide shut [Motion picture]. United States: Warner Bros.

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instructionEducational Technology Research and Development50(3), 43-59.

 

 

 

Shifting from Cost to Learning Environment

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This weekend gave me a much-needed chance to research and reflect further on the focus of my critical inquiry into using a commercialized video library such as Lynda.com to support self-directed learning and/or serve as a secondary resource for instructors in our professional development and training programs. What I came to realize is that my desire to reduce in-house video production costs by looking to Lynda videos as a viable substitute for some video content in the delivery of our courses has superseded what should be the real focus which drives this inquiry. That focus is to ensure that our programs “meet the needs of our diverse range of learners [and] are adaptive to workforce and industry needs…” (Sharpe, 2019, para 1).

What has been missing is further examination of how this type of technology adds value in creating a fulfilling learning experience. By fulfilling, I mean an experience that supports independent and collective learning. Seufert & Meier (2016) whose research on digital transformation in organizational Learning & Development pointed to the necessity of “facilitated learning…reflection…collaborative exchange & learning in networks and communities” (p. 30) as essential to supporting the needs of workplace learning. This line of thinking is further evidenced by Garrison and Anderson (2003) through the Community of Inquiry (COI) Theoretical Framework for online learning. In looking at the needs of a ‘knowledge-based society’, Garrison & Anderson (2003) advised the development of learning environments to support independent and collaborative thinking and learning. This in turn strengthens the development of higher-order critical thinking skills (Garrison & Anderson, 2003).

By shifting my perspective from cost-reduction and the business perspective, which admittedly was beginning to bias my inquiry, I plan to examine the pedagogical implications of using a one-way, transmission delivery of knowledge for learning. The convenience of using videos or tutorials such as Lynda, perhaps relays a perception that learning is taking place. However, without any means of assessment or the opportunity to engage in dialogue around the learning content, the technology in this instance has pedagogical drawbacks. My intent is not to dismiss Lynda.com or other curated video libraries as a resource, nor can I ignore the business side of these decisions. Instead, I intend to advocate that a critical community of inquiry would better serve the needs of our adult learners in the context of professional development and training.

Question for my cohort colleagues: Have you experienced challenges with your own biases sometimes getting in the way of your critical inquiry? If so, how are you keeping them in check before you go too far down the road, and they take over?!

References

Garrison, D. R., & Anderson, T. (2003). E-Learning in the 21st century: A framework for research and practice. London: Routledge.

Seufert, S., & Meier, C. (2016, May). From eLearning to digital transformation: A framework and implications for L&D. Paper presented at the International Conference on E-learning in the Workplace, New York, NY. http://dx.doi.org/10.3991/ijac.v9i2.

Sharpe, M. (2019, April 19). Leveraging Lynda.com videos as a training resource [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://malat-webspace.royalroads.ca/rru0069/leveraging-lynda-com-videos-as-a-training-resource/

A Resource or Competitor?

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A big part of why I became interested in exploring Lynda.com or other curated video platforms is the wide range of topics they offer for self-directed learning, and that they could be used as a secondary resource in courses. Added to this interest is the business perspective. The attraction of using Lynda.com, as a secondary resource where applicable in some of our programs, is quite frankly very much driven by the ability to reduce costs of in-house video production. Why create our own instructional videos when we can leverage professionally made videos taught by industry experts?

With this interest leading my efforts to research Lynda as a viable secondary resource, aside from the business side of the matter is the pedagogical integrity of making such a decision. In our Team Lynda presentation this past week, one of our MALAT cohort members shared her company’s interest in LinkedIn Learning as a provider for training and development. An attractive feature is the learning pathways which are curated “playlists or related video courses on a specific topic or career track” (LinkedIn.com, n.d., para 1). The convenience of all this seems so enticing! What I began to realize is why would one of our corporate partners want to pursue training with us when they can use LinkedIn Learning? Additionally, if we’re embedding Lynda videos, now integrated into LinkedIn Learning, as a secondary resource in our training, how will that sit with corporate training partners who may already be accessing LinkedIn Learning as one of their resources for training and development?

To this point, Komljenovic (2018) raised the concern that “the acquisition of Lynda potentially makes LinkedIn a direct competitor to those education and training institutions that it is also helping to brand and promote; and makes it a competitor in a market that it is constructing and qualifying” (p. 10). If we begin to actively use Lynda videos and tutorials to supplement some of the instructional content in our trainings, I believe our training partners might rightfully begin to question what they are paying for. This realization is beginning to change how I view Lynda/LinkedIn Learning. Perhaps as cautioned by Komljenovic (2018) Lynda/LinkedIn is starting to feel more like a competitor than a resource…

How would you feel if your company or organization signed you up for training and development through a university provider only to discover that the instruction was supplemented by Lynda.com videos or tutorials? Would you question the pedagogical integrity of the curriculum? Would you feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth (or your company’s money) for training?

Leveraging Lynda.com Videos as a Training Resource

LinkedIn Learning which was previously Lynda.com is a “massive open online course website offering video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills” (“LinkedIn Learning”, n.d., para 1). It is only recently that I have become more interested in its function as a potential supplement to instruction in our current portfolio of professional development and training programs. Our continuing education division offers educational programs and courses (credit and non-credit) across all disciplines and modalities to a range of learners from children to working professionals to retirees. A key concern is ensuring that our programs continue to meet the needs of our diverse range of learners, are adaptive to workforce and industry needs, and are fiscally viable.

Faced with dwindling resources, yet the need to increase output, generate revenue, ensure innovative and successful learning experiences…it can be quite daunting to build out and deliver programs that meet all these requirements. Competition is heavy, especially in a fast-paced industry where online learning vendors such as EdX, Ed2Go, Coursera, etc. have the resources to market and deliver their online courses globally. With a wide selection of videos and over 4,000 courses, Lynda.com offers high quality videos developed and designed by industry experts and instructors (Morin, 2017). With ready-made videos already accessible through our institution, our unit is exploring how we can integrate them into our existing portfolio. In doing this, we hope to reduce in-house production and development costs, and expand the use of high-quality video resources such as Lynda.com to benefit our learners and support our instructors. We know we cannot compete against large online learning vendors, but perhaps leveraging Lynda.com as a resource, we can at least continue to better support the learning needs of our regional community.

Having perused their topics, I was quite impressed at the diversity in content and the features for Lynda.com courses. The self-directed pace appealed to my learning style, especially as I was able to spend as much time as I needed on a topic, in this case how to edit digital photos on my phone using Snapseed. In a very short time, I had learned how to use Snapseed. Now did I truly master how to use it? Probably not, but with some practice and the ability to refer back to it, I am confident that I will use it in the future.

This perception of feeling like I learned something has also prompted my inquiry into how continuing education learners might benefit from Lynda.com videos embedded into existing courses. A pilot study that gauged learner perceptions and benefits of using Lynda.com for skill enhancement and knowledge development at Lethbridge College revealed a perceived sense of “improved performance, increased efficiency, and improved quality of work” from non-academic staff who participated in this study (Benoit, 2016, under discussion, para 2). Although there are limitations to this study, the results give rise to further questions as to Lynda.com’s value in supporting learner engagement and skill development in online learning – especially for professional development and training purposes.

Additional Questions I am Exploring:

  1. If we begin using Lynda.com videos in some of our training and development classes what will the perception be from our learners who are paying for these classes? Could they be unhappy because we are using a vendor-based video as opposed to our in-house produced videos?
  2. Since the acquisition of Lynda.com by LinkedIn Learning, there has been an increase in institutional subscription fees (Lieberman, 2017). If we begin embedding Lynda.com videos into our courses, and the University decides to cancel our institutional membership, what will be the implications?
  3. How effective are online videos such as Lynda.com in enhancing student engagement?

References

Benoit, A. (2016, June 27). Evaluation of lynda.com at Lethbridge college. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/6/evaluation-of-lynda-dot-com-at-lethbridge-college

Lieberman, M. (2017, October 25). Outsourcing career skills training. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2017/10/25/lyndacampus-offers-technical-and-other-skills-students

LinkedIn Learning. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 18, 2019, from  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LinkedIn_Learning

Morin, J. (2017). Flipping the Classroom With Lynda.com, Books and Resources Reviews p. 627–630.

 

To Video or not to Video…That is the Question!

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels
This team blog post is co-written by Beata Kozma, Danielle Stokes, Melem Sharpe, and Tanya Heck.
Our technology group called “Team Lynda” selected curated video courses on Lynda.com to experience and provide a summary and curiosities about current and future uses. Curated content has quickly become a popular means of organizing and collecting professional quality resources to support learning and development (Hogle, 2017). Lynda.com is an online video-based learning platform with more than seven thousand courses ranging in various skill and knowledge levels. These curated courses are accessible to anyone with an adequate internet connection. Our team has varying degrees of experience with this modality but we all agreed the investigation would provide valuable feedback that we could apply to our current contexts.

Lynda.com was founded in 1995 and offered free video-based courses to supplement co-founder, Lynda Weinman’s books on web design (“Lynda Weinman,” n.d.). The platform evolved into an online virtual knowledge library where people had access with a monthly subscription fee. In 2015, LinkedIn purchased Lynda.com and rebranded it to “Lynda.com From LinkedIn”. In 2016, Microsoft acquired Lynda.com’s parent company LinkedIn. This acquisition of Lynda.com seems to be driven by LinkedIn’s efforts to excel its growth in the field of online education (Chaykowski, 2016). Although Lynda.com was renamed as LinkedIn Learning, the original website still exists until the full merger is completed.

Depending upon the level of membership, members may take courses in several categories and interests such as accounting, animation, social media, and interactive design. Lynda.com separates itself from a MOOC by offering an option to commit to an entire class on one topic or to select a single video of interest from a library of choices (Porter, 2015). Lynda.com has created “learning pathways” which offer a series of courses that build on knowledge and skills for a specific career path (ie. instructional designer) (Chaykowski, 2016). Upon completion of a pathway, the recipient is awarded a certificate of completion that can be added to the user’s LinkedIn profile (Chaykowski, 2016). The video can be used for more than just interest as they can assist the learner in making a career change.

As of 2019, Lynda.com has more than 236,601 video tutorials and over 7450 courses and has been adopted by colleges, universities, governments, and businesses around the world (Lynda.com, 2019). These numbers suggest a growing use of the platform and have left our team with plenty of questions. To deepen our understanding of this platform, our team is taking a Lynda video course together. We will use an inquiry approach to learning as we view the video courses and experience the learning hands-on (Justice, Rice, Roy, Hudspith, & Jenkins, 2009). The following list of questions generated from our first team meeting is intentionally broad as we did not want to narrow our curiosity in the learning process just yet. Upon completion of watching the curated video and through further research into the literature, we hope to have more answers.

  1. What are the limitations and advantages of Lynda.com (such as quality, access, bandwidth, interactivity, accessibility, learner engagement)?
  2. As a predominant training and development force in the e-learning industry, what effects (if any) might Lynda.com have on the way online continuing education evolves in the future, or how this might impact other e-learning providers?
  3. What is the social-economic accessibility of Lynda.com?
  4. How can Lynda.com videos be used for a flipped classroom? Is there any research available to support this?  
  5. Does the design of the Lynda.com videos and courses follow research on how to reduce cognitive load, promote active learning and engage students (length, style, interactivity, the balance of audio and visual element)? 
  6. How well are the videos optimized for accessibility? Do they follow inclusive design best practices?
  7. Who are the “experts” presenting the videos; is there a requirement to produce these videos? Are they credible?
  8. How does Lynda.com ensure the video content continues to be relevant? Who creates/writes the content? How frequently is the video content re-evaluated?
  9. How is learning assessed on Lynda.com?

References

Chaykowski, K. (2016, March 31). LinkedIn launches lynda.com ‘learning paths’ in push to grow education business. 

Hogle, P. (2017, March 22). Six reasons to incorporate curated content into elearning development. 

Justice, C., Rice, J., Roy, D., Hudspith, B., & Jenkins, H. (2009). Inquiry-based learning in higher education: administrators’ perspectives on integrating inquiry pedagogy into the curriculumHigher education, 58(6), 841-855.

Lynda.com. (2019). All Courses | lynda.com. Retrieved April 9, 2019, from https://www.lynda.com/allcourses

Lynda Weiman. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 13, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynda_Weinman

Porter, J. (2015, April 27). From near failure to a $1.5 billion sale: The epic story of Lynda.com.