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By Colleen Wheeler | Monday, January 07, 2013

Our team’s New Year’s learning resolutions

Although the New Year’s resolution lists that proliferate in late December are full of worthy goals, my favorite remains “learn something new.” This time of year, I like the theme of giving in to expansion over contraction, generosity over deprivation, and passion over willpower. The staff, authors, and members here at lynda.com know that our library is a great resource to have if learning is on your life list.

Although many of us on the Content team work in a specific segment of the library, we can’t help but notice the intriguing courses our colleagues are developing in other areas. This year I asked members of the team, acknowledged enthusiasts in their given fields, which areas outside their usual sphere of knowledge are capturing their interest. Here are their answers and some suggestions for where they might want to start (or where you might want to start if you share the same interest).

Morten Rand-Hendriksen, staff author, Web segment “Over the holidays I want to power through all the photography courses in the archive. Because it’s been a long time since I sat down and really tried to improve my photography skills. I also really want to become a more creative designer/artist, so I’ll be looking into any course that helps me in that respect.”

Recommendation: If you can’t get through the whole Photography segment in one holiday week off, you might try Foundations of Photography: Composition to start. Ben Long teaches principles that definitely go beyond photography into general artistry.

Jess Stratton, staff author, Business segment “I’d like to learn something for the sake of a hobby this year—getting back into playing the keyboard and recording it somehow, but I don’t know how to start getting it from my keyboard into the computer. I want to check out the course on recording music using an iPad.”

Recommendation: Garrick Chow’s iPad Music Production series is the place for Jess and like-minded musicians. The first course—iPad Music Production: Inputs, Mics, and MIDI—is a great place to start (although if you’re up for playing on an iOS device directly, the GarageBand installment makes making music on your iPad look really fun).

David Franz, content manager, Audio segment “Social media marketing … I want my music to rock the world! :).”

Recommendation: I’ve noticed David isn’t the only musician who knows that thriving in the music business requires a direct relationship with fans via social media. Until David develops that perfect course expressly for musicians, there’s great material for getting started in our Social Media Marketing with Facebook and Twitter course.

Mordy Golding, director of content, Design and Photography segment “I’ve been teaching myself Processing—the computer language. I’m interested in finding better ways to visualize data.”

Recommendation: A few months ago, our Developer group released Interactive Data Visualization with Processing. Processing is a tool that can literally change data into (beautiful and useful) art.

Elinor Actipis, director of content, Rich Media segmentDoug Winnie, director of content, Web and Developer segment

Both Elinor and Doug mentioned sharpening their advanced Excel skills, particularly with respect to data analysis. (Is it a coincidence that our directors are all about visualization of data?)

Recommendation: Our Excel library is vast and valuable, but for data crunching, one of my favorite courses is Cleaning Up Your Excel Data with Dennis Taylor. Dennis has great tips for efficiently wrangling all those numbers into consistent tables, making analysis both easier and more accurate.

George Maestri, content manager, 3D and Animation segmentMatt Gilbert, associate content manager, Business segmentJim Heid, content manager, Photography segment

These three content managers from three different segments all mentioned wanting to learn about ebook publishing and iOS apps as content containers.

George notes: “I had a few cartoon pitches that got lost in development when I was at the studios. I figure releasing them as books/apps would be a fun distraction.”

And Jim: “Ebook publishing is hot among photographers. And as someone who grew up with tape recorders, movie cameras, and cameras, I have a lot of “family assets” that I’d like to turn into a little interactive memoir for my family.”

Recommendation: We’ve got excellent courses on iBooks Author, iOS app creation, EPUB with InDesign, and using jQuery in your digital magazine. If you don’t know where to start, Digital Publishing Fundamentals runs down the options you have for turning your words and pictures into electronic works of art.

Links: • iBooks Author Essential TrainingiOS app creationEPUB with InDesignjQueryDigital Publishing Fundamentals

Rob Garrott, content manager, Video segment “I’m going to try to get into a bit of coding. I should probably start digging into web coding, but that’s too much broccoli, so I might start with Python. That is a core component of truly advanced 3D animation, and I’ve been afraid to touch it.”

Recommendation: (Mental note: Broccoli is the new spinach!) Many members are happy to jump into Bill Weinman’s Python 3 Essential Training course. For those who want to warm up their veggies slowly, you may try Simon Allardice’s Foundations of Programming: Object-Oriented Design course.

Links: • Python 3 Essential TrainingFoundations of Programming: Object-Oriented Design

Cynthia Scott, director of content, Business segment “Top on my learning wish list is the On Camera series.”

Recommendation: The first of this series, On Camera: Develop Your Video Presence, immediately had me thinking of uses beyond straightforward video (it also had me knocking on Cynthia’s office door to share how valuable I thought it was to Business folk). In the days of Skype-based job interviews and high-stakes video conferencing, many of Rick’s suggestions prepare you for time in front of any camera, not just those destined for edited, produced video.

Ben Long, author, Photography segment Finally, since so many of my interviewee colleagues mentioned Ben Long’s photography courses, I thought it would be interesting to ask Ben himself what he might be interested in learning from the library in 2013. True to his polymathic nature, he mentioned several things from iPhone development to Maya to WordPress. But perhaps he summed up the width and breadth of the lynda.com library (and the voracious appetite of any lifelong learner) when he asked:

“And where’s that course for adding 12 hours to one’s day?”

When we release “Changing the Laws of the Universe,” Ben, we’ll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, there’s Time Management Fundamentals.

What are your New Year’s learning resolutions? Let us help you find the lynda.com courses to get you on your way.

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