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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Turning a passion for learning into online courses viewed by millions


Posted by Kevin Hernandez, Developer Relations Community Manager

Lynn Langit is not only a Cloud GDE – she’s one of the first ever GDEs to join the program. Despite joining the GDE program early after its establishment, she got a relatively late start with development. Lynn is a self-taught developer that started coding when she was 38 years old – before we had the advent of online educational resources that we do today. To teach herself how to code, she relied on certifications and books and went to her local electronics store to buy equipment to build her own server. Through this process, she found that she was a talented developer and became inspired to try her hand at teaching. She started out with teaching basic topics such as user applications. Today she has 28 Cloud courses on LinkedIn and has an audience of 5 million students. With this immense reach, Lynn runs into her students at various conferences around the world and has even had students recognize her from her voice. She mentions,“Before the pandemic, I used to travel and work globally and it was so gratifying to meet all my students because they would want to come and talk to me. It was incredible to meet students from all over the world.”

Getting into teaching

When Lynn left her corporate job, she started her own consultancy in 2011 with two ideas: technical teaching and building. She started out in a classroom with these two ideas but as traditional learning started to usher in a new era of online learning, Lynn followed suit and started to put her lessons on YouTube. This caught the attention of Lynda.com (now LinkedIn Learning) where she was asked to become an author.

Teaching has proven to be rewarding in several ways. It allows Lynn to have an impact on learners interested in Cloud and dive deeper into topics she’s interested in, all while getting paid for her academic pursuits and instructing. She states, “I can’t say I’m an expert in all the services, but I know a lot of the services across all the Clouds. So while I’m learning, I might as well teach and get paid for it.”

Choosing lessons

Lynn is in the constant pursuit for knowledge and in the ever-changing world of Cloud, there is always something new to learn or teach and in Lynn’s case, both. “Oftentimes I’ll create a course in something that I am genuinely interested in that doesn’t have an existing course. It’s so that I can focus my energies, learn it, and then teach it,” she adds. A recent example is with a book club she led last year in quantum computing. “I’m just really taking baby steps into it and as part of that, I started exploring the vendor Cloud quantum offerings. Then I decided to share that as a course,” she says.

She also mentions that there is a preconceived notion that online content has to be super polished. She believes it’s important to put your lessons out there and more importantly, to learn together. “We’re one community and we need to share when we discover something,” she observed.

Teaching style

Every instructor has their own teaching style and for Lynn, her brand is a conversational style of instruction. Very much like our interview, her lessons feel as if she’s talking to the audience one-on-one. This is in part by design – Lynn doesn’t write a script and she imagines someone sitting across from her. She can also sprinkle in some useful case studies from her consultancy work and can draw from some real-world examples.

When asked about effective educators, Lynn says, “Don’t be a jerk. The point is not to show how smart you are. The point is to communicate information that you have found useful, that you think other people will find useful and in a way they can understand.”

Advice for educating online

Lynn has met a lot of educators in her career and has had the fortune of being able to see published and unpublished content. One thing she noticed is that the problem with a lot of content is that it just simply doesn’t see the light of the day. Some content creators feel as if there is a missing piece or their content needs to be ultra polished but Lynn’s advice is to just click “publish”. She also notes that this can be attributed to imposter syndrome, which shows emotional intelligence, but as a counterpoint she advises, “There’s value in the learning, not just the result. That is probably the biggest insight I’ve gained over my years because I always thought you just had to show polished content.” Lynn believes that your audience wants to go along with you on your journey and since people are busy, they think of you as a curator of knowledge.

She also advises to start small. She is particularly fond of “snack-sized” pieces of content such as the short-form articles on Dev.to. These “snacks” are easier to produce and in reality, it’s easier on the audience. She says, “It’s funny because people want to make a course but this is not a Hollywood movie, I am sorry to break it to you, but people are not going to be rapturously glued to your screen for two hours no matter who you are. So just make little snacks.” If you find something interesting, just put it out there. Over time, as you get practice, you can start to produce longer-form content.

Advice for GDEs

Lynn offers valuable advice to any present or future GDE. She encourages, “Really get to know the GDEs. We’re all kind of doing the same thing and just jump right in. The bar is high to become a GDE and it’s a great community that I’ve learned a lot from.” There is a wealth of knowledge offered by your community. Maybe you’ll learn how to create an Android app, build a ML model, or build an online course with the guidance of Lynn. Just jump right in.

You can check out Lynn’s LinkedIn courses or find her on LinkedIn or Substack.

The Google Developer Experts (GDE) program is a global network of highly experienced technology experts, influencers, and thought leaders who actively support developers, companies, and tech communities by speaking at events and publishing content.

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