LinkedIn Learning Product Review

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LinkedIn Learning continues to be a platform that garners a lot of attention, from the LL content, to the solution itself. Bounce around on some LinkedIn profiles and you will see folks mentioning the certificates they have received from LinkedIn Learning. Learning System vendors who have partnership agreements with LinkedIn Learning for its content, often see high usage (depending on the system, but, talk to vendors who do not have a LL partnership, and you will find the majority wanting one).

LinkedIn Learning is somewhat of an oddity, it is not an LXP (although some folks might say so, I initally thought this as well, but that ended quickly), nor is it a talent development platform, nor a upskilling platform (which they could pitch), nor an LMS, rather it is a digital learning platform – which means that the majority of the content is in a video format. Other content is there too, but “course” and “video” are one in the same.

I have spent the last few months, going in and out of LinkedIn Learning, exploring the content, taking parts of the content, bouncing thru the administration side, to such an extent that I could do an in-depth product analysis in my sleep (with ESP of course).

There are folks who are devotees to LinkedIn Learning. Anything you say in an honest but negative connotation will unleash them onto you (via LinkedIn), with this and that. If you love LinkedIn Learning, this product review will not change your feelings.

This review will consist of three parts (seen throughout)

a. Video reviews – yep, I went thru the system, selected a few areas and recorded with a V/O (me) of what you are seeing and my take

b. Screenshots – To aid in the writing, including screenshots of e-mails LL sends you for your top X Skills (the number is dependent on the number of skills you want to learn).

c. Text

View all the LinkedIn Learning System Review Videos

You can share them via e-mail, downloads and much more. You can also view them under certain sections in the post below.

Key Takeaways

LinkedIn Learning has some weird attributes to it, weird perhaps isn’t the right word, wonky is better suited.

If the content is video or listed as a course, which uh means a video, two items will irk you right away.

  • Auto-play – It is nauseating. I personally am not a fan of auto-play which means the moment you see the video it starts to play.  You see this on some sites such as CNN and CBS Sports (which makes the site unusable).  I’ve never met anyone who likes auto-play.  
  • Auto-play defeats the purpose of WBT (i.e. e-learning), because it automatically assumes you want to start with the very first chapter of whatever subject, when you may want to jump to chapter four, page five or bounce here or there.  You can do this in the courses/videos I tested, because they all have a Table of Contents (a plus, because there is a lot of content, by 3rd party providers who never have a TOC – and should receive an “S” for shame). 

Big Win

The big win with the video/course (did I mention they are the same thing, just different presentation), is if you go to “transcript” which you will see under the video, next to items such as “Overview”. Click Transcript, and here you see a transcript of the audio. Now, click on any of the text, let’s say the person is talking about income tax, but you see in the transcript, income tax on domestic goods. When you click that specific phrase, the video will jump right to that point.

This feature does exist in some other learning systems, but since this is a review of LL, it is worth mentioning. And why they do not tell folks – especially those learners who are jumping into the platform thru other sources, and not as part of their organization is beyond me.

Anyway it is a huge win.

LinkedIn Learning’s home page

When a learner logins into LinkedIn Learning and arrives on the home page they will see the following

Please note that they will not see “Go to Admin” if they are not the administrator. For example – without the administrator icon

With the administrator icon – this means the end-user is also an administrator

  • Browse – Which enables you to browse the various topics available on the platform
  • A Search function – Which should be amazing, but uh, I found some issues with it
  • Home – The home, i.e. what you are looking at now
  • My Learning – This is where you as the learner go to see what’s in progress, saved, my collections, my organization (which means content that your organization finds beneficial to you, can include the organization’s content too, but it does not mean only your organization’s content), Learning History and Skills 
  • Me – Your Profile – including links to your LinkedIn profile
  • Language
  • Company logo 
  • And if you are an administrator – Go to the Admin page (this won’t appear if you are not an admin)

Immediately below you will always see

enterhome

The banner shows various courses/content and there isn’t a clear understanding of what is being “promoted” on the top. Some say “popular”, but I found some of the most popluar (based on people taking the course – which just means they clicked to go into the course, and not that did anything more than that), is not the most widely used, updated, new, etc.

Weekly Goal is where you can set a timer. i.e. this week, I will spend 15 minutes learning. You can select other minute numbers. I selected 15 minutes.

If you are in the midst or taking content whether thru a learning path, learning collection (a series of content), or from your org, you will see them here – but only a few, not the entire list (unless your list consists of two).

Followed below this is a series of playlists, which you can easily assume is tied directly to your organization (employees, which it is not) or tied directly to the skills you are interested in learning – which would slide under “Top Picks”.

In this playlist, I found it to sometimes work and other times not. In my first test, I selected the skills, “Grant Writing” and “Analytics”.

What my Top Picks showed included courses in

  • How to plan for retirement
  • Something on being a rock star for a conference

In fact, there wasn’t one piece of content tied around the specific skill of Grant Writing, but if I was interested in CSS, well there was one for that.  Analytics, showed a few, but again, not all. 

Then you get to the playlists they show themselves, and I found this not to be consistent. While, “Top Picks” always appears at the top, followed by “Trending Now”, playllists such as “Most Popular” can appear third in line, or down at the bottom or elsewhere.  “New Releases” the same thing.  At one point, I had a playlist for content that can be learned in 30 minutes or less (based on who decided that, is unknown, since uh, if I am taking only a chapter or bouncing around, how do they know how it takes me?).  That playlist though doesn’t appear every time on the home page. 

Other times there are playlists tied directly to what you are interested in, but again, not all the content is representative, and these playlists do not always appear. 

In my skill choices of Grant Writing and Analytics, I did not see a playlist saying “Because you are interested in Grant Writing” nor one for “Because you are interested in Analytics”.  However, when I switched skills to “E-Commerce” and “Accounting”, then I did see the following playlists

because

You may noticed “Holding your Team accountable” and say to yourself, that has nothing to do with “accounting” which I think everyone on the planet would know means the financial side. This is another issue with LL. It does this often whereas depending on what skill or what you search for, sometimes it hits 100%, other times it takes just part of the word (in this case account) and ignores the rest, and you see a result like this.

As for e-commerce, I was hoping to see specifics on e-commerce, not items such as Shopify Essential Training and Learning Shopify. Great, if I am using the platform, Shopify, not great, if I am not.

Other Playlists include

  • New Releases – Which I found to be pretty consistent on dates, say within a week 
  • Trending Now – Where it clearly isn’t based on a factor of number of learners taking it or using it, in fact I found content saying “Most Popular” with numbers that were low, compared to other content which had a higher number of learners, but wasn’t listed as “Most Popular”.  If LL uses an algorithim, they need to fix it. 
  • Popular – This would be easy to assume that it is based on the number of learners taking it or completed the whole thing, but nope, I found content not in “Most Popular” that had higher numbers of both, compared with some in “Most Popular”
  • Most Liked –  This is based sort of on a premise, that if I like it, and others do as well, it must be mean it is outstanding in design or delivery or information or usefulness.  This of course is subjective, because just like a “Yelp” 52 five star steakhouse gets you there, you may end up with a steak that tastes like a shoe.   Anyway, I found this to be inconsistent too, with content on the list, that was not the most liked compared to some other content that wasn’t on the list.  If I see most liked, by darn it, it should be the highest number than anything else.  – I found in my latest test, this playlist did not appear (which you will see in a video shortly), however here is proof that it appeared just yesterday.

mostliked

One challenge I have with the playlists in general is that the whole push these days is about “skill development”, “upskilling” and skills, but with the playlists, “Trending” for example, has nothing to do directly with my skills I want to acquire or interested in.  And the same applies to all other playlists (excluding Top Picks, which has its own issues).

One note of wonkiness, is that if you change your skills and go back to your home page, the update is not reflected.  You will still see the Top Picks and Because you liked X (the former skill, you had) being shown. In order to see the latest skills you have added or changed to, you need to hit your refresh button on your browser. 

I would think that a company such as LinkedIn would already have solved this challenge, especially since I haven’t run into this issue with other learning systems where you can change your skills.

And there are consistency problems.  When you hover over the content on the playlists some show the number of learners (taking it, which only means they clicked into that piece of content, and not how long they spent on it, or where they went), and yet other content on that same playlist, does not show it.  If you have it, then show it across all pieces of the content. 

Lastly, it is hard to recall your skills, and in order to remind you, you have to go either to “My Learning” or check under your profile to see “Skills”, which you click and it takes you to the my learning page.  It would seem to me that if you list “Skills” next to the area for “in progress”, “saved”,  “from my organization” that would be an added bonus. 

inprogess

When you click “Show all” it takes you to your My Learning page. 

mylearningpage

In this area, you can share the content, or collection or learning path if you so desire.  The “More” if you are an administrator allows you to add the “content” to a collection or a learning path, and you can edit or delete it.  Otherwise the options are “save” which then goes to your “saved” section (if you are a learner).

Collections

Catalog

LinkedIn Learning catalog UI is very slick, but I found the “Popular” category/tag if you will, to once again not be consistent in terms of numbers of learners accessing. 

I am a big fan of filters, but one that I feel would be very relevant is “Skills”, whereas I could select a filter based specifically on my “Skills” that I selected.  Currently, that is missing in the filter options.  

filters22

Admin Header

adminheader

Under People

  • Users 
  • Curators 
  • Administrator(s)
  • Groups

Overall I found this pretty simple to figure out and use. I did like the two help sections that appear in “Users” and “Curators”. However the first one, I strongly debate on how it truly boosts activation, since it is only helping craft an e-mail you send out.  SMS? Not possible.  

email

For Curators though, the information is very helpful

curators

The “Add” button on the top of the header

adminheader
  • Add Learners
  • Create Learning Path
  • Create Collection
  • Add Custom Content

Diving in the Administration Side

This video covers the home dashboard for the administrator, from the data captured – which some makes sense others do not, and some items are clearly missing, to the reporting and “skills insight”.  One of the biggest misses is while the system constantly pushes “collections”, there isn’t a report nor data telling you how many learners in your organization, selected these collections or created these collections.  Nor does it show you what skills are the most popular – i.e. that people created – selected as a skill. 

The skill insights identifies what skills people clicked on – content wise, but that doesn’t really help. I mean, I may be curious to what “Adobe Photoshop” is, and clicked on it, because it was on my playlist, but it doesn’t mean I am interested in that skill.  Nor does it mean, I went thru this chapter and that chapter.

Segmentation of data does not exist. Another miss.  The system tells me how many hours but doesn’t show directly the minutes, rather it is says avg minutes.  Yet another chart pushes hours and I can’t click to see what learner (noted as “Viewer”) went into what content, and drill down that way.

In the Reports there is something called Learner Management Details, but the information presented (required to DL BTW), is worthless. 

What do you get?

  • Name
  • E-Mail
  • Unique User ID
  • Business Title
  • Invitation Date (includes the time)
  • Activation Date (includes the time)
  • Last Login (date and time)
  • License Assigned
  • License Status
  • Connected Profile Status (i.e. tied to their LinkedIn profile)
  • Total Sessions
  • Hours viewed
  • Hours viewed per unique login
  • Groups

That’s it.  That’s the details you get in this report.  Please show or tell me, how I can really understand what my learners are taking related to specific skills, and additional analysis of skill gaps, identifying strengths and weaknesses?

Settings

Bottom Line

LinkedIn Learning receives a lot of interest, but for those who see the name “LinkedIn” and automatically assume the LL platform will meet the expectations or exceed them compared to the LinkedIn social media platform, they will be disappointed.

The strength of LL is the LinkedIn Learning content, but even there, missteps exist. Popular tags are inconsistent with the number of learners, Trend Now Playlists are not clearly identified as if it is “now” or last week, and trending changes depending on the skills you select, but usually those skills are not even in the “trend now”.

Some playlists appear, sometimes they don’t. And the learner is none the wiser.

The biggest dud of the whole system, is in order for you to see your skills tied to “Top Picks” you need to select skills that has content (more than a few) tied to it. Otherwise, a skill such as “Grant Writing” will show maybe one or two in your Top Picks, and then other content that has nothing to do with “Grant Writing” makes an apperance.

And the biggest fail is that in order to see your latest skills, assuming you update them from the previous skills, is that if you do so, after seeing the playlists for the initial skills and then change, and hit home, the playlists do not update.

To do so

Requires a refresh, by clicking your browser.

My hope?

LinkedIn Learning

considers a refresh

for their whole system.

E-Learning 24/7

One comment

  1. Thank you Craig!

    I’m in a larger (7000) organisation that has adopted MS Teams largely due to the rapid and unambiguous direction to work from home.

    The connections and synergies between MS Teams and our existing online learning platforms were an immediate opportunity/challenge, after we distracted our colleagues away from experimenting with Zoom. Being a full-stack “MS shop” and having a cohort that’s largely internal, we didn’t need the overhead and dramas of third party authentication and accounts!

    LL and Microsoft’s own learning content have been flagged, for some time now, as “coming to teams”. Whilst noting its been typical PR speak I did pick up on key phrases like “(you) may be directed to do some learning by your manager” (or words to that effect) and read that as having LMS leanings and have been waiting for more details.

    Now with the Viva announcement the flesh is going on the PR bones (and the licence costs are coming out too!) and your other post on Viva was interesting too. Again, thanks Craig.

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