Yes, I signed up for lynda.com and started watching some videos, and in short, I was extremely extremely disappointed. If you are a video site, you are automatically competing with a few very famous other video sites, like youtube.com and The Entire Fracking INTERNET. I can see that lynda.com could be filling a niche, because generally speaking, here is my experience online when trying to learn something new:
- Declare to myself that I want to learn something new.
- Do a Google search for lessons on that topic.
- Find a zillion links to tutorials on the topic.
- Waste three days watching videos that are poorly made or that are made by people who should not be trying to teach anyone anything ever, or that are great but WAY too advanced for me yet.
- Finally find some good starter videos.
- Watch the starter videos.
- Watch some intermediate videos.
- Watch advanced videos.
- Pay the big bucks.
- Log in.
- Have your hand held, step-by-step, through beginner courses, into intermediate, into advanced.
When I logged into lynda.com after eagerly throwing my money at them, instead of finding the magical educational wonderland that I expected, I found....well, I found problems. Here is what I think the issues are:
- There is no structure to the lessons. You click on a subject that you'd like to learn and they just throw a bunch of videos at you. No indication of where to start and no sense of actually working your way through lessons. They are just random videos on random subjects. For instance, I thought it might be neat to learn Blender. There are five or six videos on Blender, none of them appear to be related to the other, and mostly they are just overviews of specific topics within Blender without any higher level explanation of how they fit together.
- It's little more than an advertisement site for paid software. The first few pages you wade through are littered with, basically, videos that just advertise the new features in paid software. As if Apple and Adobe really need Lynda.com to sell me their software? I am pretty sure I could get ads for Adobe and Apple, oh, everywhere else online, without paying for it.
- There is a clear bias for paid software. OK, I should temper this criticism with praise: at least Lynda.com has videos on GIMP, Blender, PHP, Perl, Python, Android development, Java, and so on. But all in all, the bias for paid-for software is pretty obvious and, frankly, unfair. You could argue that Lynda.com is just responding to customer needs, which I would understand if they were actually any good. But the quality of education on Lynda.com is not any good, so I find it hard to believe that they're just responding to customer requests. I'm pretty sure they're just posting whatever they happen to be getting from their video instructors, and that is all. So if you can pay some guy to drone on for six hours about new features in some paid software, you might as well pay someone to do an actually informative video on something free. Yes I know my logic is not logical, but hey, I'm a paying customer now and I want more coverage of free software.
- Some instructors are not very good. I understand that different people have different teaching styles, but I'm paying for Lynda.com now. I expect instructors to be good at instructing, not just good at the software or programming language they are teaching. So far I have personally spent about six hours watching videos that, in the end, I literally wanted my money back. And you know the universal process of online videos, don't you? The first one you watch, you think it's bad but it's just this one that's bad. The others will be better. Second one you watch is bad, but you think it's just a freak accident that you got two bad videos in a row. The others will be MUCH better. The third and fourth ones are bad and you're starting to get worried. Fifth and sixth are bad, and you're writing angry blogposts. Hey, take it from me. I know.
- You are competing with free! Youtube.com, Blender.com, pyvideo.org, coursera.com, Standford University Courseware. There are literally dozens of FREE video sites and video training resources online that are, yes, FREE. No one NEEDS to pay for Lynda unless there is a reasonable expectation that Lynda will actually provide something unique and special that other random sites do not.
Lynda.com, if you're reading this, get better instructors, cover more free software for people who see beyond marketing campaigns and actually want to get stuff done, and get organized. Or go away.