Friday, April 10, 2015

Top Online eLearning Sites: Lynda LinkedIn and Learning

You may have heard the news that LinkedIn is acquiring Lynda.com, one of the most successful eLearning sites. As someone who is very involved in elearning - both online and off - that makes me think, and give some thought to the whole eLearning industry. 

Who are the leaders? What's going on here?

Top Online eLearning Sites
Some pro's about eLearning: learning online means anyone, anywhere and almost anytime can learn. For many small or esoteric topics (e.g., sexual harassment training for a company, or how to use PowerPoint for presentations), this opens up many new possibilities. It allows employers to more easily train workers, and it brings learning to cities like Tulsa or Omaha that do not have the depth of learning opportunities that San Francisco or New York have.

It means anyone, anywhere, can take a class on Java programming or a class on how to use PowerPoint.  That's really cool.

Top eLearning Sites


Here are some of the top eLearning sites - 

  • Lynda.com - soon to be part of LinkedIn, and focused on a cornucopia of office-oriented offerings.  It's very inexpensive, but sometimes the classes seem to be really boring and the teachers uninspiring.
  • Udemy.com - similar to Lynda.com. I find many of the courses low quality and out-of-date, however.  (They seem to let almost anyone teach a course!)
  • Coursera.com - similar to Udemy and Lynda.com.  However, has some origins in Academia and more "MOOC-type" courses.
  • Khan Academy - this one focuses more on elementary, Junior High and High school education in science and math.  This one has the most enthusiasm, in my opinion.
edX is a portal that consolidates eLearning from major universities. 

Some con's about eLearning. Some of the sites (Udemy comes to mind) seem to going more after quantity than quality, and clearly many of the Udemy classes in SEO and Social Media are little more than marketing ploys by companies that have products and services to sell.  So there is a conflation of "real" classes with "marketing" classes, which is a problem at many real-world trade shows.

Clearly, when content goes online, quality often gives way to quantity. Cat videos on YouTube anyone?

Learning or Marketing?


So the question often becomes: 

  • Is this a "real" class or is this a "marketing pitch?"

A final company in this space is BizLibrary, which focuses on employer / employee training and creates much of its own content. It's more focused on the employer / employee niche.

A Space to Watch


eLearning is clearly an exciting space, but like online music and online video, it's getting pretty cluttered and there is a lot of very low quality content out there mixing in with the truly high quality content.