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The lynda.com Story: Founders and key executives share accounts of learning, teaching, and building their company.
Company cofounders Bruce Heavin and Lynda Weinman, with CEO Eric Robison and other top executives, present the early roots, current landscape, and future vision of lynda.com. This short-form documentary covers how Lynda and Bruce's careers, relationship, and company started and evolved, and how their vision and high standards have shaped the lynda.com mission to help others.
(music playing) Lynda Weinman: I think on the surface, lynda.com might look simple, and that's great. We want it to be simple to use. But it's actually a very complex organization, and it's just like any other company. We have finance and HR and we have marketing and we have an executive team, and the thing that's unusual about us is we also have a film production company. And we're not just creating entertainment films, we are creating instructional films, and that requires a lot of testing, much like software.
We have people who test our products. We have a big engineering team that's creating the actual website itself. There are people who do everything from compressing the videos to shipping out materials for schools that are adopting our service. The organization is actually very complex. Tanya Staples: In the early days, we really just focused on screen capture recording. You see the computer screen, you hear the author's voice, and over the years we've added a lot to our instructional design process, as well as our production process truly evolve that quality.
So now any course can have live action, it could have booth cam, it could have 3D motion graphics, it could have informational graphics. So we have really kind of upped the educational and production value to make the best content that we can. Cynthia Scott: Well, people do think that we're simply putting an expert in a room and putting up a big camera in front of them, and that's not it. Tanya: At any one given time we can have between 200-300 courses in the production process at various stages, and each course is made up of anywhere between 5 and 100 individual movies, and we need that many projects and courses going through the production process so that we can have a steady stream of programming for our members.
The content team is responsible for analyzing the market and analyzing our members to determine what content we should be producing, and then the production team is responsible for creating and developing that content through the production process. Michael Ninness: We get asked a lot, "What makes lynda.com different?" And I think what we've focused on to make sure that we are always staying true to our mission is what we call the Three Cs. When it comes to teaching, we focus on Conviction, Choreography, and Compassion. What I mean by the conviction part is we choose experts in their field that happen to be amazing teachers.
We don't just use people who are trainers. You know, they're working professionals in their field, and that conviction of their knowledge and their expertise comes through in the teaching. J. Chris Griffin: I have been a music producer or a record producer for 20 years, and I have worked with artists like Madonna and Kelly Clarkson and Propellerhead's Reason is one of the main software packages that I use. I have been using Reason forever, and I am one of the sound designers for it back in Stockholm. I did a couple of auditions for them. They liked what they saw, and they called me out. Michael: A choreography piece is really key.
It's designing instructional content that meets the learner where they are at, and it doesn't assume any prior knowledge, doesn't talk down to them, doesn't make them feel stupid, and convinces them through the natural instruction that they actually can learn this. Tanya: Once we made the decision that we are going to produce the course, our content team partners a producer with our author, and they're really responsible for developing the content together. It's collaboration between the two. We have the author who brings real-world expertise, and we have the producer who brings instructional design and an understanding of the video medium.
Chris: There is an enormous amount of behind- the-scenes work that goes on here at Lynda. I mean, it's not all just filming and just kind of doing the course. There is some preparation and knowing how to format your course and knowing what to talk about when. The staff here, my producer that I've been working with has been invaluable helping me to get that done, because he knows kind of the format, and he knows how it should lay out. He's telling me all these tricks. When I get hung up on a word or a phrase that I need to use, he's right there for me, it's amazing.
Michael: And finally, that compassionate piece, really meeting the learner where they are at. So the conviction, the choreography, and the compassion really come together to form that secret sauce for our content. Tanya: Once the author and the producer have zeroed in on how they are going to teach the course, and they're ready for recording, then we go into production, and production can look like a number of things: they could be in the booth recording screen capture. they could be on one of our stages shooting live action, they could be in the field shooting live action. Once the recording is complete, then we go into post- production, and that's really a collaboration between the author, the producer, the editing team and then our design team, which is made up of motion graphics designers and animators, and they're really focused on what is the best way to teach complex concepts.
How can we illustrate that in the most simple and easy-to-understand fashion? Lorrie Thomas Ross: I was amazed when I walked on set for the first time, seeing what goes on behind the scenes, from the lighting to the equipment to the multiple people who are part of the production process to the graphic designers, creating assets and visuals to support what I'm saying. So many hands go into the process. So much passion goes into the process. I mean, these are artists and scientists in their respective fields coming together for pre-production, production, and post- production to give members of the lynda.com community the educational quality content that they're able to learn from.
Tanya: A lot of our courses are based on technology and software tools, which means that our speed to market needs to be very quick. Our members expect that when a new version of a software application comes out, we are going to have that training day and date of release or very shortly after. So over the years we've worked really hard to optimize our production process so that we can move courses through the pipeline in days or weeks so that we are releasing our contents in a timely fashion for our members. What I love about the content in the production teams is the passion that people bring to work every day.
They come to work wanting to make the best content that they can make for the member. And that is through a passion for education, it's for a passion for technology and the tools and the topics that we teach, and it's a passion for collaborating with each other and with the authors that we get to work with. Cynthia: The secret about lynda.com is we are kind of creating poetry of education. We are aiming for artistic and technical expertise, quality, the ability to create content that will really help people in their lives.
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