5 questions with…custodian and technology guru Steve Bailey

Steve Bailey CWRUJust two years ago, custodian Steve Bailey received his first certificate of completion from Lynda.com—a website that offers free, online video-based tutorials on a range of technology subjects, taught by industry experts.

Fast-forward to today: Bailey just completed his 722nd tutorial and is a computer pro, thanks to the website and the time he’s devoted during the wee hours of the night.

A custodian at Case Western Reserve University since 2002, Bailey works second shift from 3 to 11 p.m.—but after his eight hours on the job, he continues to work to educate himself.

“I take the tutorials after I get off and usually work online until 6 or 7 a.m.,” Bailey said. “When I hear my neighbors leaving for work, I know it’s time to go to sleep.”

Bailey’s interest in learning computer programs stemmed from his faith—and his desire to share his faith with others. An avid Bible reader, he constantly took notes as he read and decided to build an interactive question and answer book based on these notes.

With little knowledge of computers, Bailey downloaded Adobe Creative Suite 5. After spending three hours tinkering with the program, he found he was no further along than when he started.

So he called the university’s Information Technology Services Help Desk, and an employee introduced him to Lynda.com—a resource to which members of the campus community have free, unlimited access.

“After the first tutorial,” Bailey said, “I was hooked. I didn’t expect anything of such a high quality.”

After learning Photoshop (the most valuable program he’s learned yet, he said) Bailey moved on to InDesign—and beyond. With each aspect of his book he tried to complete, he found he needed to learn yet more programs. Though he’s completed his book’s outline and format, he realizes he has a long way to go before his project is complete; his Lynda.com training has opened his eyes to factors such as search engine optimization, internal linking and testing, which will take much more time.

“Every time I need to switch subjects or learn something else, I have been able to find new subjects and tutorials,” he said. “But I have everything I need: lynda.com and the [software] programs.”

Bailey’s continued education isn’t just for personal gain. He wants to use his newly acquired knowledge to help students, professors and others use these programs so they can produce technology-driven work that will help them get ahead.

“I’ve taken physics and calculus courses throughout my time as an employee at Case Western Reserve, and people have always helped me out when I’ve run into problems,” Bailey said. “I’d love to return the favor and help people learn these programs.”

Bailey’s eagerness to learn has been noticed by the Case Western Reserve community. Earlier this year, Information Technology Services featured Bailey with a video in its annual report (below).

And he’s also been noticed well beyond CWRU’s borders: Lynda Weinman, the co-founder of Lynda.com, tweeted about him in late November.

With more than 700 tutorials complete, Bailey has no plans of stopping any time soon. He has almost 300 tutorials in his queue and continues to build on his knowledge each night.

“My life right now is trying to get through the tutorials,” he said. “Learning these programs is like taking a molehill and slowly flattening it down.

Learn more about Bailey in this week’s five questions.

1. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Cleveland—I’m a glutton for punishment. Although the weather isn’t great, it doesn’t stay bad very long and we don’t have many natural disasters.

2. What was your first concert?
When I was 15 years old, two friends and I saw the Temptations at Leo’s Casino in the old Quad Hall Hotel on Euclid Avenue.

3. Where is your favorite spot on campus and why?
Thought it’s technically not on campus, I enjoy Wade Lagoon. It’s peaceful and scenic, and a good place to enjoy the little bit of nice weather we have throughout the year.

4. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Either with at a web design company, creating websites on my own, or helping Case Western Reserve University students learn using Lynda.com.

5. What is your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?
I like the way Case Western Reserve maintains the facilities and grounds. Also, the people who are hired at CWRU, as well as the students, are personable and friendly. Being here is like having the perfect spot in the world where you can go without the threat of violence or danger. This is my sanctuary for peace and harmony.