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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

Teach Yourself with Online Videos
Carl Sannito

As I approached the summer, I decided that I wanted to spend a portion of my time away from school learning some new software, including a great application called Painter. I hunted around Chicago for classes in this somewhat obscure application, but I couldn’t find one that was reasonably priced or offered in anything except one long eight-hour session. I didn’t think that cramming eight hours of learning into one day was the route I wanted to go, so I decided to look for alternatives. (I also didn’t want to spend $800 for the one day class.)

My first thought was to go to Borders and take advantage of my educator’s discount (20%!) and pick up a book or two. However, I had to be honest with myself and recognize that my closets are cluttered with good intentions and thick technology books that get looked at briefly and then set aside for the next shiny object that captures my attention.

Finally, I came across a great solution: online instructional videos. Did you know that there are web sites on the Internet that you can go to that have short videos that you can watch on your computer? I didn’t until I started looking around a few months ago.

At first I was skeptical about how much I would really learn from a video, but once I tried it out I was really surprised. One web site in particular really blew me away: www.lynda.com has training in over 70 different computer programs. The list includes a variety of programs that teachers should be familiar with, including Internet Explorer, iTunes, Windows XP, Microsoft Word, Pages, Excel, WordPerfect, Outlook, PowerPoint, Keynote, Quicktime, and Photoshop Elements. There are even more advanced programs like Photoshop, Blogger, and to my surprise, Painter.

Not only is there a great variety of programs to choose from, but the idea of watching the video on my computer screen worked out beautifully. It was so helpful to have the video right on the screen next to my program. It makes it easy to switch between the video and the program. And if I needed to see something more than once, all I had to do was replay the video. 

Another great thing about this concept is that you aren’t watching one long video about an application, but a series of short videos. Each video covers one specific topic. Let’s say you’re pretty good with Word, you know how to open a document, type, print and save everything, but you want to learn how to create headers and footers. There’s a short video devoted to that topic. So you log on, watch the video, and you’re good to go!

I signed up for Lynda.com and I worked at my own pace. I worked for an hour a day and took lots of time to practice over the summer and I’m very pleased with what I learned. The instructors who created the videos were great. In fact, one of the teachers in the videos I watched helped create the software. Who better to teach me, right?

You might also want to check out www.atomiclearning.com for more videos. I found their videos aren’t quite as in depth as Lynda.com, but I was still impressed with their work.

Now, here’s the downside: Both sites are by subscription only. Atomic Learning offers an annual subscription for $80. Lynda.com offers a monthly subscription of $25 or annual at $250. But they both have a slew of sample videos that you can try out before you commit to a subscription.

Both sites are laid out very clearly, so if you’re interested in more information, give them a visit.

TIp: There are plenty of other online video sites and we welcome you to e-mail us with your recommendations.

VTC, Inc.

If you have a comment or suggestion, you can e-mail Carl at carlsannito@yahoo.com.


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