Hello gentle readers! Once upon a time, my father told me, “If someone in a job interview asks you if you know how to do something, always say yes. Then you have at least a couple of hours to learn it”. Note to anyone reading who may have been on my NOVA hiring committee…I DID already know how to do that stuff!
We all know how quickly things move in the tech world, and as an instructional technologist, I spend a lot of time learning new things. It’s not unheard of for me to have an hour to learn something before teaching someone else. So today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite training resources.
I’m only putting this one first (actually, at all) because everyone at NOVA can access it for free. It’s worth checking out, especially if you absolutely need to go the free route, but I’m not that impressed with it. Content is okay, but the site is ugly and hard to navigate. Go to http://www.nvcc.edu/about-nova/directories–offices/administrative-offices/ithd/students/onlinetraining/index.html. Yes, it’s a student page, and you have to click on the STUDENTS link to log on, but it’s for faculty and staff too. Sign in using the login/password you use for MyNOVA.
Lynda and all training resources mentioned here on out have my hearty endorsement. Lynda is $25 a month for a regular account. You can view some videos for free, but they usually just make you want more (curse you Lynda, you smart marketers you!). You can pay more to be able to download handouts and other materials, but I get by okay on the standard plan. They cover all the tech topics/software/hardware/anyware you can imagine, and their video tutorials are fantastic. If you had to pick one training option, this would be the one I’d recommend.
I pay $17 a month for this one, and it’s tied to Sitepoint, which is a site that is chock full of useful tech news, tutorials, support and resources. Also, you have access to read any Learnable ebooks online (they’re pretty good, and cover all kinds of topics) and download 1 ebook a month. Learnable focuses on web technologies, though they do sometimes stray into other areas, like lockpicking(!). I mostly stick with their web design resources. Courses generally consist of videos, readings and tutorials. You can download the materials for no extra charge. I’m doing some CSS trainings through Learnable right now that I like very much.
I’m not going to go into the politics and vagaries of online learning because lots of other people go there, and while I can do pedagogy, I don’t. According to their site, Coursera “partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free”. These are online university courses, so they’re a bit different from what you can get on the other sites I mentioned…the information is more in depth and the courses are usually more of a time commitment. You can not earn a degree doing these courses, but there are tests, quizzes and homework assignments you can complete if you want the pretty paper certificate at the end. However, if you’re someone who just loves learning, jump in and enjoy the video lectures.
There are other training sites out there, and I’ve visited a lot of them, but these are my favorite. Perhaps I’ll post another handful in another blog post.