LinkedIn enters education industry with new learning platform

E-courses include 3D animation, speech writing, and more

Last Thursday, LinkedIn launched a new site offering e-learning for individuals, businesses, and educational institutions, Ingrid Lunden reports for Tech Crunch. 

The new site, LinkedIn Learning, offers 9,000 courses on a myriad of subjects like programming skills, writing, and accounting.

The online courses are only available to LinkedIn Premium subscribers—the paying portion of LinkedIn's 450 million members—and are especially directed at HR managers and employers who can suggest specific courses to employees and monitor their progress. LinkedIn also plans to release an enterprise tier to large companies so that they can extend the subscription to their entire employee base.

The e-courses, which consist mostly of accessible videos, are based on content from lynda.com, the online learning site that LinkedIn purchased for $1.5 billion over a year ago.

Online education goes hand-in-hand with LinkedIn's role as a place where people can maintain their professional profiles publicly and seek out jobs, according to Lunden. "Building on that as a place to also enhance your professional skills makes a lot of sense," she writes.

In launching the learning platform, LinkedIn also intends to appeal to higher education institutions. Previously, LinkedIn launched special, verified profile pages to universities and colleges in an effort to hook into alumni job-finding networks for the recruitment business. However, without the learning component Lunden felt the initiative was "always... missing something."

Why—and how—two institutions embraced external partnerships for continuing and online education

In a presentation about the new learning product, LinkedIn's CEO Jeff Weiner emphasized the importance of education today. Weiner noted that the World Economic Forum expects 5 million jobs to be displaced by the introduction of new technologies and that 78% of CFOs surveyed believe that up to 25% of their workforces could be displaced by 2020.

This prediction, Lunden writes, is one of the main reasons LinkedIn sees education as a business opportunity "with 'just in time' experience training... as a key way of meeting that demand."

Alongside the launch of LinkedIn Learning, the company also plans to update other areas of its service, including a revamped desktop experience, a "smarter" content newsfeed, and the addition of bots to its messaging service (Lunden, Tech Crunch, 9/22).

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