Appraisal of online tutorial materials

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Appraisal of online tutorial materials offered at La Trobe University[edit]

This research project aimed to evaluate the materials offered via an online tutorial provider, Lynda.com. The materials were offered to La Trobe University staff and students for a trail period of one month in 2013. This is a comparative study of the materials offered in the trial and those freely available elsewhere on the internet, such as on YouTube.

Research question

  • Is this resource (from Lynda.com) better than anything we already have access to through the the world wide web?

Evaluation[edit]

About the resource Lynda.com is a subscription-based service providing online tutorials on a range of different software packages and other professional skills. It is promoted as teaching "the latest software tools and skills through high-quality instructional videos taught by recognised industry experts."

What we already have access to There already exists a range of videos freely available on the internet, through sites such as YouTube, which do not require any login details. This public resource is continually evolving, being added to and commented on by users around the world.

Evaluation criteria[edit]

To evaluate the materials considered for review, the following questions are posed:

  1. Is it easy for staff and students to access? i.e. is an institutional login required?
  2. Usability: Are materials easy to find? Is the website easy to find? Can materials be re-used, modified or incorporated into teaching resources? What is the copyright or Creative Commons status of the material being considered?
  3. Is the material reliably available at all times? Are there any apparent down times for accessing the material?
  4. Is the content of the material readily incorporated into existing curriculum?
  5. Is the content at an appropriate level for your intended audience? (Remember that intended audience can change depending on the circumstances.)

Evaluation reports[edit]

A range of evaluations have been provided for this project, some informal, some more structured in accordance with the methodology outlined above.

Ruth Jelley and Joel Upton selected Lynda materials for review based on their own personal expertise. As non-teaching staff in the Faculty of Business, Economics and Law at La Trobe University, the materials chosen have a different focus to that of some of our teaching colleagues in the faculty. The materials reviewed by Joel Upton have a practical focus that could be applicable for undergraduate students or those preparing to enter the workforce after graduation. The materials reviewed by Ruth Jelley focused on her main field of expertise: publishing.

Microsoft Word 2013 Essential Training Review by Joel Upton

The Lynda.com tutorials were an easily accessible way of online learning, although there other similar sources; Lynda.com was by far a better learning resource. The tutorial was very helpful and informative but there was a lot of information to get through and could be pretty overwhelming. The production level was great value, the audio was easy to understand and the tutor was clear and concise. Even though you could find similar online materials as an online learning resource, Lynda.com was a better and well-constructed tutorial.

Full report at Appraisal of online tutorial materials/Evaluation report for MS Word 2013 Essential Training

Distributing and Marketing Ebooks Review by Ruth Jelley

Overall, this tutorial provided useful information to first-time self-published authors who want to publish on electronic platforms. The information was clear and easy to follow, production values were high. The content covered many important aspects of the process and provided useful tips. The content was very USA-centric, though, and some aspects may not be relevant or useful to Australian users. By comparison, freely available materials took 5-8 minutes to find, but were not curated into a playlist in a similar fashion to the Lynda materials. Some aspects of the Lynda tutorial can be found in free resources, and it would be possible for somebody with reasonable subject knowledge to compile a playlist of instructional videos on YouTube to make available openly on the internet.

Full report available at Appraisal of online tutorial materials/Evaluation Report for Distributing and Marketing Ebooks

Creating an Effective Resume Review by Joel Upton

Creating an Effective Resume is an essential tool to have; Lynda.com tutorial has turned a complicated issue of resume writing into a far easier exercise. Even though some of the video clips could be too quick, the tutorial not only instructs us on how to set out a resume but why it is set in that way. There were other free learning resources but the majority were difficult to understand or just poor quality. Resume writing and updating your resume is something everyone needs to be able to do and I consider Lynda.com carried out this task.

Full report available at Appraisal of online tutorial materials/Evaluation Report for Creating an Effective Resume

Microsoft Office 2013 New Features Review by Joel Upton

Lynda.com investigates the examines the new features on Microsoft Office and explores how new functions operate. Full report available at Appraisal of tutorial materials/Evaluation Report for Microsoft Office 2013 New Features

PowerPoint 2013 Essential Training Review by Joel Upton

Lynda looks at the training in the use of PowerPoint for beginners, with an in-depth look at the new functions. There was difficulty finding other online tutorials to compare to the Lynda tutorial, in the end the Lynda tutorial was more organised and easier to learn from. Full report available at Appraisal of tutorial materials/Evaluation Report for PowerPoint 2013 New Features

Understanding Excel Charts in-Depth In this appraisal I looked at Excel Charts, the Lynda tutorial and search processes for other possible education tools. Given the difficulty of Excel it proved hard to find the better method, Lynda delivered the better tutorial. Given the popularity of the subject and there were plenty of options to choose from. Review by Joel Upton

Full report available at Appraisal of tutorial materials/Evaluation Report for Understanding Excel Charts in-Depth

Staff feedback[edit]

Emma Yench reported using Lynda.com resources over many years for self-guided professional development, particularly for Microsoft Excel. She reported that Lynda.com MS Excel tutorials as being more informative than the in-built MS Excel Help options. She also noted the potential of Lynda.com resources to be used by a range of academic staff for learning how to create and edit video resources. Emma noted the increasing popularity of incorporating video content, in the context of the current university's goal to increase 'blended learning' delivery models.

Faculty of Business, Economics and Law teaching staff member reported the following: "In terms of accounting resources for students, there doesn't seem to be anything on Lynda that you couldn't find a youtube or textbook publisher alternative for. Take the MYOB videos on Lynda; I can already point my students to stuff freely available through perdisco Perdisco MYOB.

Lynda license fees would be better spent developing LTU videos. Lynda seems more like a resource for employee training."

Response to evaluation criteria[edit]

  1. Ease of access: Lynda materials require subscription to access. YouTube materials do not require a login.
  2. Usability: Lynda materials are sorted according to topic and easy to find once in the Lynda system. YouTube materials are easy to find if users have a reasonable knowledge of what content they want and how to refine their search terms to yield the most appropriate responses. Both the Lynda materials and the YouTube materials are copyrighted; incorporation into teaching materials would require providing an external link for students to access. Neither set of materials could be adapted.
  3. Availability of materials: Measuring reliability of access to Lynda materials is difficult to judge without knowing what options would be made available under institutional subscription. Would there be restrictions on number of users able to access the materials at any given time? Reliability of YouTube content can vary and depends on the content owners' desire to allow the material to remain available.
  4. Incorporation into existing curriculum: not applicable for evaluation of materials reviewed here.
  5. Appropriateness: In general, the Lynda materials reviewed were appropriate for beginner level engagement with the topics reviewed. YouTube materials also generally level-appropriate. Appropriateness can vary for both platforms depending on the level of learning or experience required - both platforms have the potential to offer materials for users at a more advanced levels.

Conclusion[edit]

The content available on Lynda.com was wide and varied. It covered many professional-level programs, not all of which would be used or required by students at university. However, taking feedback from Emma Yench into account, it appears that the content would be very useful for La Trobe University staff seeking to learn how to use particular software or undertake particular tasks. Having access to Lynda resources to do this allows flexibility of access as special training sessions would not need to be organised for staff groups or individuals. The Lynda materials offer a wide range of topics that would appeal to a wide range of job functions around the university. We should be clear that an institutional subscription to Lynda would have clear advantages for staff training in particular, but that allowing student access as well would be an added advantage, not the main intent. It should not be seen as primarily a resource for students, given that students do not have free and ready access to the software programs that many of the Lynda courses focus on. To be more useful for students, Lynda materials would need to incorporate training on downloading and using freeware items that might assist their studies. --Rmjelley (discusscontribs) 07:00, 26 September 2013 (UTC)

Contributors[edit]

Contributors to this research project include:

  • Ruth Jelley - Business, Economics and Law, La Trobe University
  • Joel Upton - Trainee, La Trobe University
  • Leighblackall - Health Sciences, La Trobe University
  • Annabel Orchard - La Trobe University
  • Emma Yench - Science, Technology and Engineering, La Trobe University
  • Anonymous staff member - Business, Economics and Law, La Trobe University