Tag Archives: free

Who Trains the Trainer?

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.

Atomic Learning

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.

New Horizons Part 1

I’m sure you all missed me this past week…right? while I was attending New Horizons 2012. One of my favorite sessions was present by David Halpin, on 7 useful free tools on the Internet. Most of the time when I go to sessions like these I already know of and use the tools (that was so 10 seconds ago!), but David had some nice additions. Here are some of his recommendations, as best I can recall, since I wasn’t taking notes.

Dropbox at http://www.dropbox.com: I do already know of and use this one, but I highly, highly recommend it. Is your file too big to email? Is the recipient in another state so you can’t hand her a flash drive? No problem. Dropbox will give you 2GB of space to start with, and you can drop files into it on your desktop or by using their web app. If you have a Dropbox account and multiple computers, you can get to any files in your Dropbox folder from any one of those computers. And you can share your folder with others.

Jing at http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html: Another I’m familiar with and love using. This bit of software will let you make videos of your computer actions quickly and easily, and save or share those videos. Perfect for when someone is just not seeing that button on a webpage, and you can’t jog down to his office to officiate.

Pixlr at http://pixlr.com/editor/: A pretty powerful web-based image editor. It can do a lot of the basic functions that Photoshop does, without the need to install any software. Yeah, we here at NOVA have access to free Photoshop in our offices, but when you just have a quick edit to do, there’s no need to use a cleaver to slice butter. And if your computer is running the way mine is, you’ll want a more lightweight option than Photoshop.

That’s it for Part 1. These are all free, so check them out!