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LinkedIn is offering a free trial of its LinkedIn Learning courses until October 30. The trial, which they’re calling a Week of Learning is meant to promote the courses and its new LinkedIn Learning app, both of which have been met with some suspicion. LinkedIn has a proven track record for networking, but are they the right people to trust with your career development? Can they bring your team members up to speed on critical skills? Are their webinars worthwhile, at the end of the day?
Head over to LinkedIn Learning and the platform will inform you that Learning’s “most in demand” courses are free until October 30. Since it’s already October 25 that seems less than enticing, doesn’t it? But many of Learning’s courses are short and hyper-focused, aiming to give you give you a broad overview or to quickly impart core knowledge about specific skills. Courses run the gamut of sectors — from the basics of coding, to speech writing, to sound mixing — but naturally skew towards jobs in the “creative class.” This makes sense because it’s difficult to learn hands on crafts like welding from a webinar (although there are plenty of how to weld videos on youtube), but also because LinkedIn knows its core and most profitable users.
For me, LinkedIn Learning suggests courses in Photoshop, InDesign and marketing, which is based partly on my profile and partly on my own expressed interests. When you first log in, Learning presents you with a series of skills that you might be interested in expanding, and while these are based on your profile and experience, you can add other skills too (like welding! maybe).
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You’re then presented with course options and learning paths, based on your specific interests, your profile, and what other people with similar profiles and interests have chosen. The inclusion of “influencers and thought leaders” and “learning paths” is a clever way to provide validation to the skill-specific courses designed by less known instructors. It suggests they’re on par and that Learning as a whole is worth your time. Learning paths tell you upfront how much of a time investment you’re looking at, and every course comes with a short intro video to help you decide if the course is the right skill level for you.
While LinkedIn Learning, the platform’s partnership with online learning system Lynda.com, has been around for about a month now, you may not have tried it yet, since it’s part of Premium, not free LinkedIn membership. Its introduction was another step in, LinkedIn hopes, making the professional social networking platform into a collaboration and learning system — and profitable. CEO Jeff Weiner, in an email announcing the Week of Learning, said that
“If you’re wondering why, look no further than our vision: To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. That’s what we’re working towards every day, and our newly introduced LinkedIn Learning platform has been developed to further realize that vision.
Given the rapidly accelerating rate of innovation in the world, it’s increasingly important for all of us to take advantage of learning experiences that can better prepare us for the career opportunities that are and will be, and not just those that once were.”
But, well, are the courses any good? I’ve only just started exploring them myself but Lynda.com courses have a good reputation generally. It’s one of the most popular online learning systems globally; their focus on quality and consistency of presentation makes it a step up from building your own course with YouTube tutorials. The courses and learning paths do have real substance and the progress tracking aspect that Lynda and Learning have helps keep people (me!) accountable. The addition of a mobile learning app makes LinkedIn Learning an even more attractive prospect, not just for individuals engaged in self-directed learning, but for corporate applications. Employees can do their LinkedIn Learning courses — or courses you’ve set up for them — anytime, anywhere, and Learning will track their progress.
Tech Republic checked in with four companies that have been using Learning and most seem satisfied, but their self-reports of using it for employee learning don’t include information on the size of the groups involved, how many courses were organized and if courses were organized for them or if they were self-directed, and how employees feel about the Learning system.
If you’ve been using Learning at work with employees, I’d love to hear about your experience!