LinkedIn Learning Opens Its Platform (Slightly)

Digital Learning

LinkedIn Learning Opens Its Platform (Slightly)

By Jeffrey R. Young     Nov 9, 2018

LinkedIn Learning Opens Its Platform (Slightly)

A few years ago, in a move toward professional learning, LinkedIn bought for $1.5 billion, adding the well-known library of video-based courses to its professional social network. Today LinkedIn officials announced that they plan to open up their platform to let in educational videos from other providers as well—but with a catch or two.

The plan, announced Friday, is to let companies or colleges who already subscribe to LinkedIn Learning add content from a select group of other providers. The company or college will still have to subscribe to those other services separately, so it’s essentially an integration—but it does mark a change in approach.

For LinkedIn, the goal is to become the front door for employees as they look for micro-courses for professional development.

So far LinkedIn Learning plans to work with five partners: Harvard Business Publishing, getAbstract (which includes book summaries and TED talks), Big Think, Treehouse (which features courses on coding) and Creative Live.

So it's not like just any course library will be integrated, though the company said it plans to add others in the future. LinkedIn officials say it will not be selling subscriptions to the other services.

“Many of our customers use LinkedIn Learning, but they also use other content,” said James Raybould, director of learning product at LinkedIn. “They want to bring that one front door to the learners.”

The move puts LinkedIn in direct competition with companies like Degreed and EdCast, said Sean Gallagher, an executive director of Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy (and a columnist for EdSurge).

“This taps into the trend in corporate learning and professional development toward microlearning and the curation of content and modules from multiple sources, and is significant given LinkedIn’s giant member base and growing B2B focus since being acquired by Microsoft,” said Gallagher, in an e-mail interview. Microsoft bought LinkedIn in 2016.

LinkedIn also announced another service for its LinkedIn Learning platform called Q&A, which will give subscribers the ability to pose a question they have about the video lessons they’re taking. The question will first be sent to bots, but if that doesn’t yield an answer the query will be sent on to other learners, and in some cases the instructor who created the videos.

“We wanted to make it easier for people to connect to other people around their learning,” said Raybould.

He said there would be no set limit on the number of questions that subscribers can ask.

“If someone started to ask literally thousands of questions, then it will get flagged,” he added. “Because people have to be a subscriber and because people have to use their real names, we don’t anticipate that use case being very common.”

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