Lynda.com Review: Looking for software tutorials?

lynda-dot-comIs it worth your time and money to subscribe to lynda.com? If your job or life demand that you learn software applications from Adobe, Apple, Google, Microsoft and so many more, then read this lynda.com review.

I’ve been a subscriber to the lynda.com training library for years. I often find this site to be a life saver. It helps when working under tight deadlines with little time to learn something new.

There’s nothing like sitting in a coffee shop with your laptop, sipping java and eating pastries (only the healthy ones) and learning how to use Storyline, Captivate or Illustrator with Lynda’s excellent online software tutorials.

For a reasonable monthly fee and no long-term commitment required, lynda.com gives you access to a long list of well-designed courses. These tutorials teach how to use a wide variety of software programs as well as delving into topics like: web development, business, photography, and audio and video production.

The Best Features of Lynda.com

There’s a lot to like about lynda.com. Here are some of my favorite features:

  1. The courses are organized into many short segments.
    Even though many courses are several hours long, they are organized into very short lesson segments. A particular lesson might only last five minutes. That means you can use the courses to quickly learn one procedure. And you can use the courses for comprehensive training. I often go there just to get the answer to one problem.
  2. The courses are instructionally sound.
    The courses incorporate high-quality instructional strategies. They progress in a systematic fashion, use realistic examples, are organized logically, and assume the intelligence of the audience. I have rarely come across a course that I thought was sub-par. But it did happen once or twice. Note that the courses are not interactive. They consist of short video tutorials.
  3. The selection is broad.
    As of 2012, Lynda.com is offering 1,337 courses on these subjects: 3D, animation, audio, business, design, developer, home computing photography, video and web/interactive. The tutorials include presentation tools and eLearning applications, graphic design software, social media tools, video and audio editing packages, web design and development, iPhone apps, business applications (Office, Google docs), content management systems and many other categories.
  4. The instructors are knowledgeable.
    Most of the instructors appear to know their topics well. They teach in an informal and casual style and give you the sense that they can help you become competent in whatever you’re trying to learn.
  5. You only need to pay for one month at a time.
    You don’t have to make a long-term commitment to lynda.com. You can pay for one month, take all the courses you need and end your relationship right there. Most likely, though, you’ll find yourself coming back for more. You can save money by paying for a full year, which is what I do.
  6. There are a variety of subscription options.
    You can become a Regular monthly subscriber or a Premium subscriber. There is also special pricing for mult-user corporate and educational options. Many of the courses are also available on DVD.
  7. The courses work on a variety of devices.
    The lynda.com courses work on the PC, Mac and a variety of mobile devices.

lynda-course-screen

A screen from a course teaching Captivate

A Few Things You Should Know About Lynda

Lynda.com continues to expand its options for tutorials needed by the eLearning industry. As our field expands into social media, information design, usability and other areas, an increasing number of the tutorials become relevant. They now include tutorials on technologies, such as HTML5 and CSS.

In terms of the eLearning specific courses, you’ll find Blackboard, Camtasia, Captivate, Adobe Connect, Dreamweaver, Drupal, Flash, HTML5, Mobile Development, Moodle, Photoshop, PowerPoint, RoboHelp and WebEx.  There are tutorials on nearly all the peripheral products and topics that eLearning designers and developers might want to learn, like Facebook, Twitter, Dreamweaver, HTML 5, CSS 3, Javascript, Illustrator, Final Cut, podcasting, animation software, information architecture, usability, Gmail and so on.

Note that as a Regular member, you are not provided with the exercise files that go along with each course. These files are reserved for Premium members. Although the exercise files are not required for using the tutorials, they do provide a way to continue learning and exploring after completing the course. And for some of the programming courses, you may find that the exercise files make it easier to follow along. Still, I’ve been a Regular member from the start and have not found this to be a hardship.

Is lynda.com right for you?

You will benefit from lynda.com if you find yourself frustrated because you can’t keep up with all the software and new versions you need to know, if you find that you only use a few features of the software you own and if you frequently need a quick tutorial on how to use a software feature any time of the day or night. People who have a passion for learning new applications and technologies will also benefit.

Check out the free tutorials to start. Look for the underlined topics in the tutorial of your choice, as they are open to the public.

[Note: Lynda.com is a site sponsor because I think their products are high-quality and helpful.]

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Comments

  1. Michaela says

    I love lynda.com!!! Actually, my school offers all the tutorials for free, so I just need to find time to learn it all.
    Thank you for a great review.

  2. Norris Hall says

    Be careful. If you sign up for a one month account thinking to use it for the month only, think again. your credit card will keep getting billed each month and if you don’t notice the charge you could end up paying 25 dollars a month forever.
    Make sure you cancel the contract after one month if that’s all you intend to use it for.
    Lynda.com requires you to opt out..otherwise they’ll keep sending you a bill

  3. Ken says

    Be careful when using the account. I was paging though the movies and loading then too fast. So my account got flagged. If I do this one more time I lose my account.The CS Rep told me to find content using the transcripts and not by looking through the movies to find what I wanted to know. It is a good resource but I should be able to page through the videos without losing my account.

    I paid for a year and won’t do it again. Just my humble opinion….your mileage may vary.

  4. Connie Malamed says

    Hi Ken,
    Thanks for letting us know about this strange situation. This does not sound like the spirit of the lynda.com I know and I will contact them about it since I recommend them highly. Of course you should be allowed to load movies quickly.
    Connie

  5. Connie Malamed says

    UPDATE AUGUST 2011:
    I did hear back from Lynda.com and they seem to have a decent reason for how they handled the issue. They are working on a better solution. Here’s what they said:

    Dear Connie,

    Thank you for contacting lynda.com. We understand your frustration and we do sincerely apologize.

    Due to people violating our terms and conditions, downloading tutorials and pirating our material, we had to install a new security system.
    This system is set to detect unusual viewing patterns.
    The “quick clicks of high volume in a very short amount of time” is a type of viewing pattern is consistent with downloading or sharing of our videos. Downloading of our material is strictly prohibited and against our Terms and Conditions.

    Also, sharing the username and password is prohibited, as our subscriptions are single-user subscriptions, opening up our services in multiple windows; these are all scenarios that flag our system.

    If you are unsure of what you are looking for, there is a search option in the title box of each tutorial (on the right hand side) and each chapter is broken down into video headings.

    Please review these as well as the description tab to find what you are looking for. This is a time saver versus clicking through the movies as well, and if you click to the left of the transcripts/wording, there are time stamps. If you click on the time stamp, it brings you to that exact part of the video and you can start watching the training from that point.

    Again, I do understand your frustrations and can relate. We are working on fine-tuning the way our system reviews accounts to see if there is a better way to find those abusing our services.
    If there is anything further I may assist you with, please do not hesitate to contact me or one of our Customer Service Representatives at 888-335-9632.

    Thank you again and enjoy your day.
    Best regards,
    Heather
    lynda.com
    Customer Service Team

  6. Connie Malamed says

    I heard from Lynda again! The customer service team lead offered Ken a free month of tutorials. Ken, if you are out there, please send me your email address through the contact form and I’ll put you in touch with the right person. Here’s what she said,

    “Hello Connie,

    Thank you for contacting us.

    We appreciate that you reached out to us and made us aware of this member’s concern. Can you please provide me with their name and email address? I will be happy to contact them directly to reassure them that they will be able to click through our tutorials as their needs require. I would also like to offer them a 30 day extension, at no charge, for any inconvenience they have experienced due to the email notification they received. We want to make sure that they feel comfortable using our site without worry.

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

  7. sarah says

    When subscribing it actually says you will be charged a 25 dollar fee each month until you unsubscribe.. Thats why terms & conditions are meant to be read.. I hope you like the site though!

  8. Mary says

    I like the wide variety of topics. I do miss a classroom for software training, where you can see what the instructor is doing then try it yourself. I have the type of membership where you get the exercise files; I haven’t found those to add too much, so I’m thinking of going back to the more basic membership where you don’t have access to the exercise files.

    Sometimes it is a little difficult to catch exactly what the instructor did or what buttons he/she clicked; sometimes I wish I had a takeaway doc with a list of some of the menus and clicks to complete the actions. For example, I’ve been watching one on Word styles, and the instructor goes through how to compare 1 style to another; I reversed and repeated several times, but never was able to duplicate it on my own. The quality of the instructors is really good.

    My #1 issue is the quality of the videos. Granted, I don’t have the fastest connection in the world (3G Verizon broadband), but it is the best I can get in my area about 45 minutes outside of Austin, TX. Often the videos stop and start constantly, so this can be very frustrating. I will sometimes pause it and wait for the whole segment to load before playing, and this helps with the jarring, but it can take a long time to wait for it to queue up. I’ve tried various settings, have read the help, but to no avail.

    So, overall I love Lynda.com, but if I can find another site whose video works better, I will switch. There are many other sites whose video does not do this; I don’t know enough about video to know why one site’s video works smoothly and another does not.

  9. Connie Malamed says

    Hi Mary,
    I have not had any issues with the videos so I guess it must be your bandwidth. I imagine that is very frustrating. I wonder if there is a way to download the video first so it is not streaming? I suggest you contact lynda.com’s tech support to see if you can download the videos first. Perhaps Verizon can give you some advice too, like a faster modem.

    Have you tried simply letting the video play in one window while doing something else and then going back to the start and watching? I wonder if it would then be in memory or in a temporary file on your hard drive. They used to have some of their courses available on DVD and probably still do. But that is an additional expense.

    Finally, if you are looking for an alternative to technical/programming courses, I know you can find some of these at teamtreehouse.com.

    I hope you get the technical issues straightened out.
    Connie

  10. liban says

    Hello Friends I was thinking about signing up I wanted to do more research on this 1. I wanted to take CAD course 2. Some c++ programming course. My Question is Can I take these with one subscription or do I need to pay EXTRA.

    Thank you please email at abulm3@gmail.com

  11. kim says

    I am looking into subscribing to this.. but I do not see anywhere that the programs are available to use with the videos. For example I am looking at learning python. I see the exercises, but if it does not provide the program even a trial version it is quite pointless for me to pay money for the videos. Please someone clarify.

  12. Matt S. says

    It’s becoming a disappointment that Lynda.com is so heavily geared towards Apple users. Many tutorials are no good to me since I use Windows. True, the teachers will talk between both platforms on many. But an equal amount of tutorials, and growing, are becoming more difficult for Windows users to follow along.

  13. Connie Malamed says

    Hi Matt,
    That’s an interesting point. I guess the courses I’ve been taking lately use both so I didn’t notice (also, I have both types of computers) or they are not software specific. I think you should definitely write to lynda.com and let them know of your concerns. It’s a pretty big deal to leave out the Windows audience and I’ve found them to be responsive. Thanks for your comment.
    Connie

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