Things You Can Do Over Winter Break

This article was created by a Technology Services student employee. Our student employees attend, engage, and report on campus events that feature technology. Students provide a unique perspective on how innovations in technology affect campus life.

By Meghan McCoy, English, '18

If you’re like me when it comes to the Winter Holidays, then as soon as December 1st hits you likely understand the equal parts excitement and nervousness that take over as approximately 40,000 people start to figure out what their plans are for their respective holidays and three week long break. Most importantly, this time also reminds students who, now likely used to living away from their home guardians, wonder just how in the world they will manage three to four weeks of the return of what I like to call the “who, what, where, when and why” questions.

Yes first semester Freshman, if I’ve learned one thing over the past four years it’s that your home guardians will never stop with these questions no matter how old you get.

But in the spirit of the holiday season, as people prepare to celebrate either Hanukkah, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Bodhi Day, Pancha Ganapati or any tradition both sacred and secular, included are some ideas for anyone looking to improve or learn new skills over Winter Break, a few last minute, just in case gift ideas and some good excuses for anyone who needs an extra dose of holiday spirit.


Learn Something New with Lynda

For anyone who is unaware of what exactly Lynda actually is (don’t worry so was I for nearly half my college career), according to the University of Illinois is a free, online provider of over 1,200 video tutorials for all UIUC students, faculty and staff. Lynda offers instructional videos on thousands of software topics ranging from Adobe, Apple, and Microsoft content to video and audio editing, which are taught in short 5-15 minute segments that each person can go through at their own pace. There’s no stress to finish a video segment in one go (they’re usually about 7 to 8 hours anyway!) so you can pick back up right where you left off. As someone who gets deeply involved into the holidays and the activities that entails, this perk is especially nice for me.

In addition to a massive array of content to choose from and tailor to your specific interests, each video is taught by an industry expert and features content in Lynda Business and Lynda Developer. For anyone looking then to dust up their knowledge on Office Suites, or learn something new in web development then Lynda is definitely the place to check out. More than that, Lynda provides a built-in escape for anyone looking to get a couple of hours break from the holiday parties or, like me, to help push off the inevitable “who, what, where, when, why” questions.

To learn more about Lynda, or to log on and access their programs please click on the link here:



If you don’t know what dial-a-carol is, or do but never used it before, then let this winter season be the time that your life is changed for the merrier. As literal as it sounds, dial-a-carol is one of UIUC Housing longest-running events that has taken place for over the past 57 years. A fabulous holiday tradition, this year phone lines open on Dec. 14th at 12:01am and close Dec. 20th at 11:59pm. You can call at anytime, from anywhere and request any holiday song no matter how popular or obscure. Singers will do their best to fulfill any and all requests, and the best part? It’s all absolutely free, so if you need an extra lift this winter dial-a-carol is ready to provide the holiday spirit singing-style.


Free and Discounted Software at the WebStore

After living through a couple of holiday seasons, most of us have experienced at least once the feeling of panic when, it’s the day before your holiday celebration and you realize you forgot to buy a present for your best friend or Uncle who you only see about once a year. If this scenario sounds all too common, or you find yourself gift-stuck this winter, instead of running for your nearest Target the University of Illinois campus WebStore is definitely worth checking out first.

Launched in 2001, WebStore has since become “the primary software distribution source for the University of Illinois” according to its online website, which you can access here: It’s available to all three University of Illinois campuses, and offers over 350 software for purchase or download.

In addition to easy purchasing and downloading straight to your computer, WebStore also offers “training to improve technology skills and knowledge.” Both of these features mean that not only can you purchase hundreds of different software brands at the most affordable price, but if there is a certain software program or online device you would like to learn more about WebStore can provide that as well.

Taken together, Lynda, dial-a-carol and WebStore are helping to shape this holiday season as one of the merriest, relaxed and stocking-stuffed yet.