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By Starshine Roshell |

Slam Dunk: From Basketball Star to Elearning Expert

elearning expert Renaldo Lawrence

He was a pro basketball player who broke Guinness world records … and knew absolutely nothing about computers.

Now he’s an Apple Distinguished Educator who shows teachers how to use digital media to engage their students.

Here’s the story of how determination—and fascination—led lynda.com author Renaldo Lawrence from the nation’s courts to the world’s classrooms.

2015_07_03_RenaldoHoops

Renaldo Lawrence playing for the Bracknell Tigers

Growing up in a small South Carolina town, Renaldo was a terrible student.

“I was the kid in the classroom who was never going to be successful.  I was that kid,” he says. “I get what it’s like to be in the classroom and unsure of what the teacher’s talking about. I get what it’s like to get up in the morning and go to school and think, ‘What a waste of my time.’”

Renaldo was a saxophone player in the school band but, at 14, noticed the basketball players got all the girls. “So naturally,” he jokes, “basketball seemed like an attractive avenue to go down.”

He threw himself into the sport, practicing on playgrounds until 11 at night and watching game films to learn even more.

2015_07_03_RenaldoGuns

“The drive of wanting more than what I had and seeing prosperous basketball players on TV really inspired me to work and train as hard as I possibly could,” he said.

It worked. In 1979, Renaldo was drafted by the Clippers. Four years later, he left to play basketball in England, where he became the fourth highest scorer in the history of British basketball. He made the Guinness Book of World Records for scoring 73 points in a single game.

2015_07_03_RenaldoDribble

Following his athletic career, Renaldo offered to fill in at a school that needed a temporary PE teacher—and the job became permanent.

“I worked with a group of young children who were handicapped,” he said. “The look on their faces when they had accomplished a small task—something simple we would take for granted such as taking a few steps across the sports hall—led me to believe that it was my life’s work to try to enhance other people’s lives.”

In 1995, Renaldo was waiting to go to lunch with a colleague when he saw the colleague drag an image from one program to another on a computer screen.

“It completely blew my mind,” he says. “I had no idea what computers were good for at this point, but from that day forward, I wanted to learn how to use them.”

He bought a used computer from a friend for cheap and went to the library to read books on how to use it. Before long, Renaldo developed the school’s first Internet portal, and then was named head of the Information, Communication, and Technology department.

His curiosity and enthusiasm only grew from there. Renaldo went on to earn his masters in education, and now trains teachers across the United States and Europe in creating and using digital media, web design, and elearning applications in the classroom.

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“I never would have imagined this kind of career for myself, but now that I am here, it feels right. Being able to teach material that I am personally passionate about motivates me to work hard,” he says. “I can see the applicability in the real world.”

Of course, he had a little help along the way.

“lynda.com has been a lifeline for me,” he says. “I’ve been fortunate to progress in everything from video production to website design to image manipulation to project management skills to coding and so much more thanks to working through lynda.com tutorials and courses.

It’s allowed me to do my job better, to stay ahead of the learning curve in terms of knowing what’s happening in the industry.”

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Now Renaldo is a lynda.com author, too: Viewers in 89 countries have watched his course Creating Multimedia Learning.

“I was computer illiterate and now my whole career revolves around using computers to develop multimedia content to help teachers all around the world,” he marvels. “I’ve learned that if you work hard, the universe will work hard in return to help you reach your goals.”

 Watch Creative Insights: Renaldo Lawrence on Elearning on lynda.com.

 

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