Category Archives: Reading

MOOLs

Wow – September already and I’ve not posted since June. Where has the time gone?!

I’ve been busy – a bit of running (not a lot though, I’ll admit) and some changes at work – a new boss, then a new job (doing more stats and analytic type stuff, yes!) and another new boss.

MOOLs/lynda.com

Anyway, around this time I was offered a free trial of lynda.com LinkedIn’s new acquisition. The site offers courses in leadership, management and lots of software programmes (including things for CAD and Photo editing). As it was a free trial I was signing up for; I signed up for a premium account which means access to additional files to download – you can still get your own free 10 day trial.

Courses on lynda.com take the form of video lectures with a transcript – because of this I kind of think of them as MOOLs – Massive Online Open Lectures – there is no interaction via community message boards with fellow students or tutors, you simply watch the lectures and make notes, downloading any reference material if provided. Courses tell you how long they are (I think the shortest I did was about 16 minutes the longest over 5 hours) and material will be broken down into chapters.
There is also no assessment or requirement for interaction – all you need to do is click on every segment/chapter of the video – you do not even need to let it play through, just click on it, and it will count as being completed.

Courses

The subjects I looked at were:

  • Leading and Working in Teams
  • Data Visualization for Data Analysts
  • Data Visualization Fundamentals
  • Developing Political Savvy
  • Leading with Stories
  • Business Storytelling
  • Leadership Fundamentals
  • Presentation Fundamentals
  • Developing Executive Presence
  • Building Self-Confidence
  • Stepping up to Leadership
  • Managing and Analysing Data in Excel 2010
  • Thinking Like a Leader
  • Macros in Depth
  • Body Language for Leaders
  • R Statistics Essential Training
  • SPSS Statistics Essential Training
  • Up and Running with R

Some were a lot better than others – the tutor for the Body Language for Leaders stood out for me; so much so I actually sent the tutor an email via her professional website. Leadership Fundamentals also had some great content. The guy on the excel videos (Dennis Taylor) was also extremely good at delivery and I would certainly recommend any course by him; I was also able to preview what was coming up and skip to the areas that I knew I had a couple of gaps in or were in need of refreshing.

So, I guess the more soft skills courses were a lot like going to a seminar – except you can pause and rewind bits that perhaps you missed or want repeated.
The software courses can be useful to work alongside – as it had been a few months since I’d used SPSS last, I borrowed a laptop with it on, found myself a room and worked through the exercises – everything came flooding back (though I admit I didn’t learn much new on that one).

Lynda.com is also fully integrated with LinkedIn so after completing a course you can link it directly into your profile with just a couple of clicks – I did this for a few courses but not all of them.

Conclusion

I can certainly see the value in a business signing up for an account and allowing staff to work on subjects and brush up some skills with Microsoft office or other products, but for an individual learner it isn’t cheap and I am not sure how much you would benefit; is anyone going to hire me on the strength of the fact that I sat through some MOOLs on R, SPSS and leadership? No. But, I did have great fun and did learn quite a few things (note – once your trial is over your access including to courses you have completed shuts off – so make sure you have taken all the notes and downloads that you want!) so I would certainly recommend people signing up to the free trial when they can time it right so they have the opportunity to get as much out of it as possible.

 

Flu and reading

I had the flu last week. As Grumpy Cat would say – It was awful. Three days in bed not moving. There’s no TV in the bedroom, but I probably wouldn’t have watched it anyway – I didn’t have the patience; the only kind of entertainment I wanted (on the third day; too wiped out sleeping on days 1 and 2 for anything) was one where when I got tired/fed-up I could just close my eyes, sleep for a bit and not have missed anything or need to rewind. God bless books.

Anyway, when contemplating what to read my Kindle* was the best choice, no faffing about with any of that turning pages nonsense which I was far too sick for.

This reminded me of a short-lived boyfriend (um, the relationship was shortlived, hopefully he is still alive today. He was also short though) in my first year at University. Whilst reading together one day we came up with a brilliant idea – the lazyman book. Basically, being lazy students, it seemed to us to be an extreme irritant to have to, once you had yourself all nicely positioned, lying down in bed with the book open so you could see one page, once you had read that page, you would then have to disturb yourself and reposition the book (usually by rolling yourself over) to read the next page.
An ingenious solution was to have books printed where all the pages (not just the odd ones) were on the right hand-side of the book, so after finishing page one, turn over and lo and behold page 2 is instantly visible without you having to turn over in bed or reposition the book. Once you were half way through, you would have to turn once and continue down the left hand side of the book until the book was complete.
We envisaged going into book stores where you could choose either a standard edition or our patented lazyman edition (presumably depending on how interesting the book was).
However, the digital age and e-readers have rendered our invention that, in typical student fashion we discussed and never did anything about, obsolete, as your e-reader also displays all pages on one side without having to roll over – not even at the half-way point.

(It says a lot about the state of our brief relationship that rather than doing student-y things like drinking and um, other student-like activities, we spent our brief time together discussing the laziest way to read books).

*other e-readers are available