If a lack of skills is holding you back from reaching your career goals, there’s really no excuse not to do something about it. I’ve looked at several low-cost learning platforms recently, and this LinkedIn Learning review examines what the world’s largest business social network has to offer.
LinkedIn Learning features over 13,000 expert-led online training courses. They’re all fully accessible for a small monthly fee. This means you can pick and choose your topics and learn as much as you want. There’s also a free trial available so you can try (and learn) before you buy. As of August 2019, LinkedIn Learning also offers “a la carte” courses, so you can buy individual courses without having to sign up to a subscription (more on this below).
I’m writing this LinkedIn Learning review after spending a considerable amount of time on the platform. I’ve completed some courses myself, and once worked in a company that invested in this training for its staff. You will find out all the good AND the bad below.
So let’s start with the basics:
What is LinkedIn Learning?
LinkedIn Learning is an online training website offering thousands of courses in everything from entrepreneurship to programming. LinkedIn Learning makes its entire course library available to everybody who subscribes, and also offers an “al la carte” option for those who’d rather buy courses individually.
Many of LinkedIn’s courses were previously hosted on Lynda, another leading training website. LinkedIn acquired Lynda for $1.5 Billion in 2015.
As well as individual subscriptions, and course purchases, LinkedIn Learning offers team options for companies that wish to make the training available to their employees.
Pricing: How Much is LinkedIn Learning?
Full access to LinkedIn Learning costs $24.99 per month if you pay for it annually, or $29.99 per month if you opt to subscribe on a month-by-month basis. There’s also a one-month free trial (see below).
If you subscribe to LinkedIn Learning from a country outside the US, you may see the prices in your local currency. In the UK, for example, the prices are the equivalent in Pounds.
If you do decide to subscribe on a monthly basis and then cancel, it’s possible to rejoin at a later time, reactivate your subscription, and pick up where you left off. Individual courses sold “a la carte” start at around $30 each.
LinkedIn Learning Free Trial
LinkedIn Learning offers a free trial for one month. This is completely unrestricted, so you can gain full access to all the training materials, and even complete some courses, without any commitment.
While completing this LinkedIn Learning review, we took out a free trial and had no problem cancelling it without being billed.
Initial impressions of LinkedIn Learning are positive. The interface is well put together, and it’s easy and enjoyable to browse through the thousands of courses available, without it all feeling too overwhelming.
As you can see from the screenshot below, the range of subjects is huge. Courses range from short, individual offerings, right up to detailed “Learning Paths” that combine a selection of related courses to form a comprehensive overview of a subject. (Some of these run to dozens of hours, and are similar to the Specialisations on Coursera and the “In-depth programs” on FutureLearn).
With so many courses, the difficulty is choosing what to pick!
There’s an effective search facility, which comes in useful if you’re looking to learn a particular skill. For example, during my LinkedIn Learning review I decided to brush up on Excel Pivot Tables. The search facility lead me straight to a choice of relevant content.
Having unlimited access to such a wide range of courses is a double-edged sword, as I mentioned when I reviewed SkillShare, another similar training platform. It’s all too easy to go flitting about – not settling to any one course.
However, there is a positive to this too. Because a subscription gives you access to everything, it doesn’t actually matter if you decide to grab different nuggets of information from different courses.
For example, I wanted to learn about setting goals in Google Analytics, so I found a general course and skipped ahead to the relevant module. In just ten minutes I learned what I’d specifically wanted to learn. Had I purchased an individual course on somewhere like Udemy, I probably would have felt obliged to sit through the whole thing to get my money’s worth!
Courses on LinkedIn Learning are primarily video-based, and usually have an introductory video to give you a good overview. Some courses come with supplementary components, such as exercise files.
In a window to the right of the video content, you can access a breakdown of all the course modules, a text transcript, and a “Q and A” section that allow you to send queries to the tutor. You can also take notes in this area. The interface is well-considered, and fits in a lot of info without feeling cluttered or confusing. (This is notable, as not every online training site pulls this off!)
When it comes to course quality, standards are consistently high, with good sound quality and production values. This is because while anyone can apply to produce courses for LinkedIn Learning, not everybody gets accepted. (There’s more on producing courses for the platform later in the review).
Showing off your Achievements
Some LinkedIn Learning courses include quizzes after each module to prove your understanding; Others even have a formal exam at the end. At the simplest end of the scale, you can complete some courses by merely “watching” all of the content.
Once a course is complete, it’s possible to display your achievement directly on your LinkedIn profile.
While this is a nice touch, I’m a bit sceptical of how much notice potential employers will take of these “certifications.” In reality, you could gain some of these accolades by simply letting the videos play in the background while you’re doing something else…
However, some of the courses are linked to professional bodies, and count towards Continuing Professional Education Units or Professional Development Units. As such, certain certifications on LinkedIn Learning are far more meaningful than others.
There’s an enormous amount of choice on LinkedIn Learning. One thing I particularly liked is that for many subjects, there’s more than one course, so you can choose one that gives a summary, or one that does more of a “deep dive,” as shown below.
Some courses are simply short explorations of topics or software packages, delivered by people with a lot of experience of them. However, there are also in-depth courses specifically designed to prepare you for formal exams, such as those from CompTIA and Microsoft.
Creating Courses of your Own for LinkedIn
LinkedIn Learning is a platform that allows anyone to apply to create courses of their own. This isn’t something I looked at in huge detail for this LinkedIn Learning review, but there’s an application form here.
In order to apply, you have to share your LinkedIn profile, answer questions about your experience, and (ideally) send in an example video. It’s clear from the quality of the courses on the platform that they don’t accept everybody, and this is a good thing. (By contrast, courses on Skillshare are much more variable in quality, because anybody can put one up).
If you do get accepted as a course creator, it seems likely that you will be paid on a revenue share model, based on how many people study your courses. However, precise details on the payments were not easy to find. Presumably, the detail is only revealed once you qualify to create courses. (If anyone reading knows more, I’d be happy to update this review with more info – please contact me!)
Conclusion – Is LinkedIn Learning Worth It?
LinkedIn Learning is a very professional platform. If you want to study anything business-related, you’ll almost certainly find a good quality course. You can also try before you buy without handing over any money.
The subscription model makes perfect sense for businesses, because it means you can give staff unlimited access to a huge library of training materials. However, whether it makes as much sense for an individual is a bit of a judgement call, and depends on your level of focus and motivation.
Personally, I was actually quite surprised how much I enjoyed zooming around from course to course, with the reassurance that everything was covered under the monthly price. I’ve no idea whether that’s how the people at LinkedIn want us to use it(!) but I found it pleasing. I could set aside an hour of “training time” and learn several specific new things, rather than dedicate that time to just one course that may or may not prove useful. One could argue that you could do the same on YouTube, but with no real “quality control” there, that’s just not the case.
As with SO many things, whether LinkedIn Learning will work for YOU depends on the time and effort you’re going to put in. $25 is an absolute bargain if you’re going to complete several courses and learn lots of new skills – but it’s money down the drain if you’re only going to dip in and out.
As such, I’d suggest taking advantage of the month’s free trial and seeing how much use YOU get out of it. The quality is certainly there – but the value for money will depend on you. The addition of “a la carte” courses gives you another training option too.
Is LinkedIn Learning Accredited?
Not all courses on LinkedIn Learning are formally accredited. However, some courses can contribute towards Continuing Professional Education / Development Units with official bodies such as the Project Management Institute.
In LinkedIn Learning the Same as Lynda?
LinkedIn Learning Pros and Cons
- A wide range of courses with largely consistent quality.
- A well-thought-out user interface.
- Generous, unrestricted free trial.
- A new option to buy courses individually.
- Some tutors seem to abandon their “Q and A” sections.
- Quite pricey if you don’t make regular use of a subscription.
Alternative Training Providers
As well as putting together this LinkedIn Learning review, I’ve looked at lots of other companies that provide cheap (or sometimes free) training. They all have their pros and cons, so here are some alternatives to check out:
- If you like the idea of training delivered in league with big-name universities, check out Coursera (review here).
- If you’d rather just choose one course and focus on that, Udemy is worth a look (review here).
- For the closest equivalent to LinkedIn Learning, take a look at SkillShare. The overall standards aren’t quite as high, but it also comes in at a significantly lower price. (There’s a review here).