LinkedIn Learning Hub – Product Review (Exclusive)

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I wasn’t sure what to expect. LinkedIn Learning was hyping the “Hub” to be a new experience, an LXP with Skills and Experts. The marketing for the Hub really told a story, to the point, that it will be something so original, unique and well, even better than LinkedIn Learning.

I got the sense this would be a new platform, completely different than LinkedIn Learning.

What I saw and experienced, well, left me asking “This is it?”

Learning Hub

The marketing pitches it as an LXP, and I would definitely concur with an asterisk. An LXP today, must-have skill capabilities, and while Learning Hub has some, they already existed in LinkedIn Learning. Skill ratings, for example, do not appear in Learning Hub, which is weird considering how many learning systems already offer it.

The likelihood it will eventually appear in a future release is more than likely, but for the first rollout, and the time they had for Hub, it is odd.

What I found with Learning Hub was in essence around four to five new features/capabilities to the existing LinkedIn Learning platform.

There isn’t a totally new platform, nor are the changes so dramatic, that if you are a current client of LinkedIn Learning (the platform), will you, or at least should you be in a wow factor. As one current client of LinkedIn Learning told me, “We were underwhelmed”, upon seeing the new features with Learning Hub.

This is not to say, that some of the new capabilities offer no benefit (depending on how you use it), rather it points to a somewhat rush job to roll out the Hub, especially when considering all the new capabilities the Hub could have included, that scream future tech or at least standard can match some of the top learning systems that are out there.

Learning Hub Features

Campaigns

One of the new features (that is part of Hub) in Linkedin Learning are campaigns. The premise is that you can create a campaign that will appear on the top of the system in the banner header.

Campaign Banner

The banner is no longer a static image, rather you can add any piece of content, from a course to a video, to a document, a collection, even a learning path.

This is a part that I liked in the banner angle. In the above example, the learner can click the icon and it takes them right to the content, in this case, the “Become a Tech Recruiter” learning path.

Roll the tape – “Learning for Humans” learning path campaign.

Learning For Humans Learning Path tied to a Campaign

Creating a Campaign is straightforward and pretty easy to do.

Creating the Campaign
Preview Banner

All the above appears on the “Create a Campaign” screen.

Simple. But, it does have flaws.

Limited on the end date

The biggest flaw is the “End Date”. Linkedin Learning allows only 30 days for the end date. This means if you want your content to be promoted or 3rd party or LinkedIn for that matter, and you want it to go past 30 days you cannot.

You would need to create another campaign and redo the entire process.

My gut says the reason LinkedIn Learning did this, was to ensure that the campaign was fresh with new promoted content on an ongoing basis.

Banner Customization and Preview

Banner Box

Banner customization and Preview are integrated in such a way, that the only way to explain it, is to watch the following video:

There are two flaws when selecting the content.

First, with audio files – the type appears as “video”.

However, the bigger item, likely a “bug” is in the case of this audio file, the banner default text comes from the author themselves.

I tested this “issue” and realized that it appears only when you “Create a Campaign” the first time, and only withcertain content (not all) and when you decide to “Create the Campaign”.

It does not appear when you decide to remove the content and select another piece of content, or the collection or learning path.

Buggy

The Learning Hub is currently not available to everyone, but only to those who already have LinkedIn Learning. Thus bugs like this are likely, and it is up to the client to find them and notify LinkedIn. Not an ideal way, to have your clients be Quality Assurance for you.

Let’s though assume you picked something to add, where this bug does not appear.

To change the text or add it (normally it is blank), you simply add your own text. But, sometimes the box is not blank, and instead shows your previous text tied to another piece of content. Ignore the “green G” that you see, that is my spell checker. You will not see this with your view. However, and once again, this is a flaw, when you remove the content or path or whatever, and put a new one in, the text from the previous message remains.

Example 1

Watch for the “Bug”
See the “bug”?

The way it should work is when you remove the content and select a different one, the preview box removes the text, and the banner message goes back to blank. It is easy to forget this, and thus, a quick click of “Publish” will have this banner live, with the wrong text.

Oh, the banner message is always in “italics”. Again, you should have the option to change that.

Publish

The Publish button is at the top of the screen. I wish it was right under “Preview” or on the side.

Publish

Once the campaign is published, you will see a new screen

Your Campaigns

Under the “More” option, you can edit, delete or view a “live preview” – this means the banner is now live, with your promoted content.

If you want to restart a campaign that has ended, sorry you are out of luck. You would have to create a whole new campaign.

Campaign Banner Confusion

Let’s say you wanted to have multiple promoted content, etc. on your banner so that when a person clicks the arrows, it goes to your next promoted content.

Sadly this is not possible. You can have only one promoted piece of content, collection, learning path, etc., at any given time. A carousel approach would have been the right way to do this, with the ability for you to have multiple campaigns running at the same time.

Instead, you get the same stuff that was on the banner, in the previous version of LinkedIn Learning, which is from them.

First your promoted content, then their stuff.

No narration.

The “New” and “Popular” existed in the previous version of LinkedIn Learning and suffers the same flaws as the first time. Popular seems arbitrary, because there are courses, videos etc from the LL library that has more views than the ones selected. And new doesn’t mean, this week or last week. It could be months old.

3rd Party Content Providers

To be an LXP, you need to have 3rd party content providers. Preferably a minimum of ten, but nowadays vendors claim to have an LXP or be one with only a few providers.

LinkedIn Learning Hub is no exception. They note they have “several”, which uh, means only seven.

  • getAbstract
  • Pluralsight
  • Harvard Manage Mentor
  • Harvard Manage Mentor Spark
  • edX
  • O’Reilly Media
  • Udemy Business

It’s not like LLH had a lot of time to find 3rd party providers, oh wait, they did. I was stunned they didn’t have any aggregators such as Open Sesame or GO1. Nor did they have common ones such as Biz Library, Video Arts or Intellezy.

As with any 3rd party content – you still have to buy it – it doesn’t come free.

If you want to add your existing provider, no worries, just let LL Hub know and then wait. And wait. And wait.

I should add that with LLH there is no scrubbing of the net to find free content tied to skills, interests, topics and so forth. Something I am seeing more frequently in various learning systems. Hard to say “content curation” and forget something, called curating of external free content.

Actually you can share the content via LinkedIn, or as a link or in Teams.

Live Office Hours with Experts

I will readily admit, I was very excited about this capability, it just oozes unique – a story if you will. Kudos to LinkedIn for the spin, because live is heavily misleading, office hours is bogus, and experts – are well, I guess experts.

Here is how it really works

Uh, office hours?

Clearly, office hours how everyone on the planet defines it (especially if you attended a college or university), is not how LL Hub defines it. You see, office hours in LL Hub means events. As in you (in LinkedinLearning) can create your own event.

None of these folks in these events are “live”, until they do their presentation, and prior to that, as the “expert” you can choose to have an area where folks can leave comments/ask questions before the event, or choose not to have it on (I saw this with one “expert”).

Expert(s) can decide if they want to show you who gave them accolades in the form of the emojis that are everywhere on LinkedIn or, again in multiple cases not. I mean you see them, but click and nothing shows.

Interested simply means that you – by clicking “Attend” means you are saying you will attend.

An expert – before their live event with them turning everything on.

I got to this screen, by clicking on the person’s event on my Office Hours Playlist.

Expert has activated the area you can leave comments/ask questions

Yet with another expert, I did not go directly to their event screen, instead I got this:

Different view

To get to the screen where you can ask questions ahead of time, you have to click the “event link”. Confusion reigns. Why not have it so that it is universal – upon clicking to attend the event or learn more, it takes you to the screen where you can ask questions, etc.

Wait, it happens once again – a different screen. When clicking to learn more about this session, and hoping to see where I can ask questions/discussion/comments, I saw this instead

Job Search

I would think that LL Hub would recognize this as a UX issue and resolve it, so people – your learners are not bouncing into different screens. I was unable to test on whether upon creating your event, you get a variety of options, but based on my sample, it implies you do.

How can you claim “live” office hours, when in the very remote angle here, an expert can turn off the area where folks can ask questions ahead of time?

If everyone who did a presentation where folks can ask questions in the comments area, then based on how LL Hub defines it, we can all say “office hours with live experts”. Total nonsense.

Attendees

Attendees?

In the playlist of “live office hours” experts, you see interested, which then upon clicking in becomes “attendees”, but since this event isn’t live yet (at the time I captured the screen), there isn’t any way, LL Hub actually knows if these folks attended.

Past Events

These are events that have already occurred. It is easy to get to, by simply selecting “Past Events”.

Past “Office Hours”

In the “AMA” event by Michael Boyle it notes “606” interested. In the event itself, 34 folks attended. I apprecaite that the acutal final attendance count appears. I also liked that you can see the emoji accolades appearing on the screen while the person is presenting – similar to what you see with Instagram video and Tik-Tok.

The comments start to roll, as the presentation is going on – I do wish though that I could see the comments, ahead of me starting the event, but that’s just me. I say this because the comments roll by quickly (if there are a lot) and it is hard to read them.

For this session, AMA – means Ask me Anything – and its Popular on Reddit. A typical AMA session, the person who is providing the AMA, actually answers some of the questions (not all). This AMA session – the expert did not respond to any – at least not in the comments.

Again, this is up to the speaker, but it eliminates the “communicate with the expert” approach, if the expert decides not to respond.

But WAIT!

I selected a different past event, where the 100 interested, all attended according to LL Hub. In fact, of the five sessions I tested, four of them, matched total numbers 100%. Which as anyone knows who has ever presented an event, is extremely unlikely.

But WAIT!

Remember when I noted the fast pace of the comments? Well, in another “past event”, the event showed 22 comments. And yet, while watching the presentation, not one comment was visible.

Which again, defeats the purpose of the whole talk with an expert.

Social Panel

That is their wordage that LL Hub refers to when showing folks who are taking the same content as you are, and where you can see who they are. LL Hub spins it as an employee can see if any other employees are taking the course/video at the same time, and thus can notify them, plus can see others, who are not in the organization.

This gets a bit confusing, and thus the best way is to see it in action.

It isn’t just your organization

You will see “Active” which to me implies that these individuals are currently in the course/video at the same time you are OR at least the same time frame.

However, that is not accurate.

Active learners means people in that course, learning this week.

I noted in the video about how you can see some of the folks – and thus their profiles when you click their name, but you can’t see others.

I added that initially I thought it was because LL Hub only showed those folks who I am connected with. I found this to be, uh, not accurate.

In a FinTech course I selected, there were folks who I have no connection with, appearing in the social panel. And again, the list of “others” which are not visible.

I was unable to test if an employee can notify another employee thru the panel, but I did see, just as you could/can do in LinkedIn, that you can leave a message on the person’s profile.

As an end-user, if you do not want other learners to see that you are viewing this course, you can opt out. However, you will no longer see the other folks who are currently active.

To “opt out” you have to click the settings icon in the social panel window, and then turn off to view”.

To turn off, slide to no

Once you slide the button to no, the social panel will now change to this:

Can’t see

Two Points

a. Once you click “Update activity setting” – the social panel turns back on and you can see the folks again

b. In my tests, when I saw the “people with the job title of CEO”, which only appears when you turn off the setting to hide others, not one of the folks I could see, had the title of CEO. It was as though the system was saying, if you turn this feature back on, there will be others just like you with the same job role – sort of alignment – just like you and me.

The premise of the social panel is intriguing, but it still needs a lot of work to be useful and beneficial to other learners at your company or organization.

Skills ScreenDashboard – Admin Side

LinkedIn captures a lot of data, and yet the skills dashboards are below par. For a company that is worth billions you would think they would invest in better data metrics and visualization.

There are three sections on the “Skills” screen

Pin the Skills
Developing skills
Skills Not met.

Pinned Skills

I strongly recommend that any client of LinkedIn Learning and thus LLH go to the Customer Success Center, and find the video that covers LL on the admin side.

Because if you don’t, you are going to get beyond frustrated. It is surprising that while some capabilities such as creating campaigns for example, are easy to setup, the pins thing is not. Sure, once you learn it, it is, but it should be pretty straightforward on that screen itself.

Instead you get this

Actually, you would just see “Pin your Priority Skills” and not the above graphs, which only appears after you pin the skills, which are the skills you selected in this section (by clicking the pin)

The easiest way to solve this -= is to have a quick how to in the pin your priority skills box, rather than telling me what it is, and then let me try to figure it out. Sure, you can say, well that is what admin training is for. Okay, but what happens when the admin is out that day? Exactly.

Hours viewed – LL shows data based on hours viewed, but in their reports, which you have to download they can get to milliseconds/seconds. If you have learners or a learner on that skill, or even with the content, who never went 60 minutes or more, that info won’t appear on this screen or even the dashboard screen. Nor will your data be completely accurate, if hypothetically the total running time of Technical Recruiting is 54 minutes. Because it isn’t an hour.

When you click show details, it just pops up the same screen as the pinned data screen

The Graph

The only difference between this and the pinned one, is that you can click the dots on the chart.

Skills Insights

No data

Skills Added to Employee’s profile

I went thru a lot of information on LL how to area, and could not figure out if the results are based on the skills you, the learner added to your own LinkedIn Profile, or from those who say you are good in a skill or a combo of the two. I still can’t figure that out.

Skills Insights

Skills Insights is only available for organizations who have at least 15 employees on LinkedIn with public member profiles and have LL Pro License

You cannot view individual learner skill(s) information at what LL refers to as an “employee level”, what you get is an aggregate, based on job function, and so forth.

Peer Companies – This is a data point where you can compare your company with other companies/organizations that are similar (LL refers to it as closest) to you in terms of industry and size. The comparison is up to 10. I’ve seen this in action before – shown to me privately – and came away impressed, although you have to apply the premise that Company X thinks the same way around a certain set of skills for this job role, as you do.

One other item, that LL Hub notes is the whole customization angle. But what I saw was the same ol same. You can’t can’t change the colors, or remove LinkedIn’s name. Your logo appears quite small in comparison.

Bottom Line

LinkedIn Learning is pitching the Learning Hub as something that is out of this world, unique, an enriched LXP with skill effectiveness and experts just a click away.

Curation at its finest. Office Hours. Skill Insights that will knock your socks off.

Yet

There is no digital coaching with video built-in capability. There are no role plays or sims. No, built-in authoring tool or even extensive skill capabilities.

You can’t curate content off the web such a manner that so many other systems can and do. There are no app integration/exchange that again, many systems offer, with a simple click and go.

Skill ratings? By the learner and reviewed by the manager? Not available.

Data visualization that even can match what folks such as Fuse, and EdCast can produce- not even close.

I understand this is the first version, and each version should add new capabilities and improve upon the previous version.

But this isn’t something rolled out by a start-up or a few folks who have little funds.

It’s LinkedIn.

And if this is what they see learning as or should be,

Well…

I’m totally underwhelmed.

E-Learning 24/7

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