The silhouette is of a woman reading a book against a bright yellow background – that is the logo students at Stony Brook University have either caught a quick glance of, or missed altogether passing through the commuter lounge.
The logo is that of Lynda.com, an online program that since 2012, has allowed subscribers to take virtual classes and tutorials across a range of subjects, including business, audio production, engineering, computers and information technology development. Now it is gone – the university’s subscription to Lynda.com ended on July 8, 2017, after a series of surveys conducted by the Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) department reported that only two to six percent of students actually used its services.
Jesus Manga, a senior multidisciplinary studies major, recalls using the software for about a month before switching to his current major.
“I used Lynda when I was a computer science major,” he said. “They had videos, I would watch and take notes. I wouldn’t use it again just because of my major, but I would recommend it to a friend.”
Diana Voss, director of TLT’s Academic Technology Services, reported that a small percentage of students actually using the service, combined with a price increase, led to the decision not to renew the contract this year.
Despite this, Voss said it was still unclear how many students actually knew about their subscription to the software.
“We would advertise by printing fliers and putting them up, but people kept tearing them down,” Voss said. “Also, we made subscriptions for students but what we found is that Lynda would only allow 150 students to use it at one time.”
Essentially, students were paying for a service that not everyone had access to at once.
“I definitely would have used it, had I known about it,” Elijah Mueller, a junior undeclared major, said. “I’m not taking a full course load, so I would have liked to at least have known about it. I would have developed more skills in computer skills, music softwares, maybe languages, digital audio and maybe Photoshop.”
Voss said she agrees that there are many benefits to using the software.
“A lot of students turn to YouTube, but we have some tutorials set up through the school geared towards teaching programs like Excel to different majors,” she said. The tutorials are listed on the TLT website, where Stony Brook students can sign up for sessions.
People who are subscribed to the software are able to learn at their own pace and decide how much they would like to know about a subject before immersing themselves into it.
For students not pursuing STEM-related areas of study, it can be very difficult to learn the basics surrounding these fields. Although some Stony Brook Curriculum courses, including those pertaining to technology, studies of the natural world and quantitative problem solving are designed for this purpose, often students find it difficult to align said courses with what they will pursue in the future. Lynda.com courses therefore offered an alternative.
Lynda.com allowed students to train in these subjects without having them worry that their GPA would be impacted.
Voss said that she would look into providing students outside of STEM fields access to classes in basic technology and business skills, so that they have the opportunity to gain at least a fundamental understanding before they graduate.
There is little expectation, Voss said, that Lynda.com will be making a return to Stony Brook in the near future. However, students who are interested in using Lynda.com can access it via many public libraries across New York, including the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, Patchogue-Medford Library and Central New York Library systems.