Colleges, ITS fund popular online tutorial site

For a while last spring, it looked like wouldn't be back on campus for a fourth year. Central funds weren't available to cover the university-wide site license to the software training site.

However, had developed a loyal following at Iowa State, and its supporters mounted an effort to find funding. Ultimately, every college on campus and information technology services (ITS) pitched in to keep at Iowa State. Collectively, the colleges provided two-thirds of the $88,000 licensing costs and ITS added the remainder.

1,400 tutorials

The license gives all Iowa State students, faculty and staff unlimited access to some 1,400 software tutorials. The license is based on the university's total full-time equivalent count and amounts to approximately $2.50 per FTE, said Jim Twetten, director in ITS. Without the license, the annual subscription rate for an individual would be $250.

The tutorials have been heavily used by students, faculty and staff, Twetten said. They have a little something for everyone. Offerings range from basic lessons, like to how use Microsoft Word or get started in Google calendar to advanced IT training on such topics as Drupal and JavaScript. In between are sessions on Sharepoint, Photoshop, and much more.

In 2009, Iowa State became the first of Iowa's state universities to license lynda. The universities of Iowa and Northern Iowa now have licenses as well.

Less tech support, more subject matter

The original goal of joining was to help instructors who were looking to spend less time on tech support and more time on subject matter, Twetten said.

Instructors said valuable class time was increasingly used to provide instruction on Acrobat, PowerPoint and other software programs. The instructors wanted to provide students with 24/7 resources on software and fit the bill. The site proved useful not only for instructors, but for IT support staff, who directed clients to tutorials on specialized topics, and for general members of the campus community who needed to acquire some technical expertise.

"It's been a very good training and development tool," Twetten said.

Track your training has a new name, lyndaCampus, and new features for its university subscribers. Among new features are:

  • Automatic bookmarking as you progress through a course
  • A personalized queue of courses you'd like to take
  • A list of your course completions

LyndaCampus also will allow ITS to track individual, departmental and college usage of the online courses, Twetten said.

"These statistics will give us a much better idea of who's using Lynda and where the heavy traffic is occurring," Twetten said. "That information will be valuable, as the institution can then figure out the best ways to maximize Lynda use, apply appropriate funding and target future needs."

How to access

To access lyndaCampus tutorials free of charge, go to Type in your net-ID and password to gain entry to the site and see the list of available courses. Don't enter the site at; that's the public window to the site and requires fee payment.