BYU Library offers free software classes


The Software Training Lab in the Harold B. Lee Library provides free classes for BYU students, faculty and staff to learn to use various software programs.

Programs offered include Adobe Creative products, Microsoft Office and other software like Procreate and DaVinci Resolve. Through the program, students learn the basics of how to operate each program and create a project to showcase their knowledge. Prior experience in a program is not required to take any of the classes, according to Henry Sorensen, outreach lead for the Software Training Lab.

While these classes do not count toward class credit, they still provide students with valuable skills.

“The real purpose behind it is that we want to get people … experience and skills in these programs so that they can use them on their own,” Sorensen said. “We hope that when they come out of the class, they’ll have learned something new, regardless of whether they’re a novice or an experienced user of the program.”

The lab teaches classes each semester or term and has offered the classes for at least a decade, according to Sorensen. He said the lab tries to continue classes that were popular in previous semesters and vary the time of classes each semester to accommodate student schedules. The classes have a specific curriculum which is revamped every couple of years to keep up with updating software and materials. 

Lee Martin, software training desk lead, said some classes are staples, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, but the lab has even done classes about YouTube and is developing a podcasting class.

Courses are usually around six hours total, which is broken up into several classes over a couple weeks, so they are a fairly low time commitment, Sorensen said. The library provides patrons with access to the software programs and computers necessary both during and outside of classes. There is also a help desk for patrons, so those who are having trouble with programs can get one-on-one help.

One goal of the classes is to help build community and connect students with others who are in the same creative mindset, according to Martin. There are collaborative activities in the classes to encourage students to work with each other.

Soren Patchell enrolled in software classes because she is considering applying to the advertising program in the BYU School of Communications. Patchell said the Adobe software is a skill set many teach themselves. She felt she was behind other advertising students because she never tried it in high school and does not have much experience.

“I already feel like it’s helped so much because I honestly didn’t know anything going into it. I think just doing this step by step has really helped me because I wouldn’t even know where to start other than YouTube,” Patchell said.

Patchell wants to continue to take classes, including using Lightroom and Photoshop. 

According to Sorensen, it is usually BYU students who take the classes, although during spring and summer terms it is more common to see faculty and staff take the classes as well. 

The classes are not offered to members of the community, but Martin said if someone is affiliated with a BYU student, staff or faculty member, they could sign up with that person to join a class. 

That was the case for Staci Blackmon, who was able to attend the software classes because she had a net ID from attending BYU—Idaho and her sister is a current BYU student. Blackmon said she is currently living in Provo while job searching and is not attending school, so when she saw the classes on the BYU calendar she thought it would be a great opportunity to learn the skills for free without having to teach herself. 

Blackmon said she brings her own computer and uses a mobile hotspot since she is unable to access the computers and Wi-Fi as she is not a current BYU student, but she makes it work. She just started the InDesign course and has also taken courses in Photoshop, Illustrator and Excel. 

“I love learning the keyboard shortcuts, best part of any program. And the creativity that it encourages, while still having limits. Because I can’t just go off on my own, I need help,” Blackmon said. 

Another benefit to the classes is that, in connection with the Instructional Psychology and Technology Department, the lab offers badges to students that they can put on a resume to show the projects they have worked on and the certification they earned from the class, Sorensen said. 

According to Martin, even without taking the classes, badges are offered to anyone who can show they have the skills to operate the program. 

Blackmon started the work toward the badges and plans on submitting them after she wraps up the classes she is currently taking and finishes her projects.

Interested parties can register for classes on the library’s Software Training Lab website.

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