Lynda.com v. Atomic Learning

Online learning is the hot thing now, right? So my higher ed institution already has Lynda campus, which is basically their higher ed solution. Everyone has an account and access to unlimited tutorials. Additionally, MnSCU has just brokered an agreement with Atomic Learning, which is a similar organization to Lynda, and I’ve been tasked with determining whether or not we should bring in Atomic Learning (we’re already locked in to lynda.com through 2015, I believe).Lynda versus Atmoic

On the surface, we’ve not had a huge adoption rate for Lynda, but this is due more to lack of awareness on the part of the college (part of my role is to ramp up awareness, and I plan on utilizing some flipped classroom models for training modules).  I’ve used Lynda in the past, and I really love it. The videos are all of great quality, and I like the ability to ‘chunk’ content so you don’t have to sit through an entire 2 hour video on how to do a mail merge using MS Office applications–you can just skip to the part about how to format your spreadsheet, or whatever you need to know.

Atomic Learning, on the other hand, is a local company. Their modules are much shorter than Lynda’s–from a quick perusal, most appeared to be under 10 minutes–and subscribers can also upload customized, branded content (helpful for our records system and/or other campus-specific resources). Other MnSCU institutions are using Atomic Learning partially for training, but even more so for their IT Help Desk–like, someone calls and wants to know how to perform a search with tight parameters in their Outlook, their help desk can send them a link to the tutorial instead of walking them through the process, or maybe they do walk them through the process, then send the link as a follow up email.

From research around the web, I’ve heard varying levels of satisfaction with Atomic Learning. For me, the most key concerns have been centered around lag time with module creation for the most recent versions of software (not that my institution is, you know, constantly upgrading with every Adobe upgrade or something), and UI isn’t quite as polished or easy to use as Lynda, which makes me wonder if it will be a challenge to push it out.  I’ve also noticed–even in my higher ed trial subscription–a really obvious bend towards teaching, which I think heralds back to their original focus on K12 education. They also have this odd section called 21st Century Skills which I find baffling. Even after looking through it. I just don’t get it. Like, I looked up Google+, and it basically looked like a primer for using Google+. Woof.

On the positive side, I do like the option to upload our own content, but I doubt that I (or any of colleagues) will have much time to take advantage of that feature. I’m intrigued by the workshop option, too (basically a collection of resources brought together to be, you know, a workshop). I’d like to talk more to people who are using it for their help desk, and I’ll have to do some more fact finding with our own help desk to see if this would be helpful.

So, as of this writing, I’m leaning away from Atomic Learning, but I plan to meet with their representatives next week or so as well as reach out internally and externally, so who knows? I’ll update this post as I find out more.

How are you using Atomic Learning or Lynda.com?

***Long promised update***

Long story short, I chose to stick and optimize Lynda.com over Atomic Learning. I’ll definitely keep Atomic Learning on my radar, especially as they promised some updates coming out soon which will position it a little more strongly toward higher education. But there’s nothing in Atomic that’s not possible in Lynda.com, and to be frank, Lynda.com just does it better (playlists, certificates, reporting, new tutorials…the list of advantages goes on).  Plus, with the new admin tools, I can’t wait to start modifying user lists =]

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