Yesterday, professional networking site LinkedIn announced its $1.5 billion acquisition of online educational platform lynda.com.
Many industry insiders see this purchase as the latest step in LinkedIn’s efforts to evolve beyond its original identity as a resume posting and job networking hub to become an important player in the digital higher education world.
Lynda.com is a major resource for both educators and students. Its subscription-based online library of educational videos, many targeted at building various professional skills, offers a new avenue of opportunity for LinkedIn to expand its services. In a statement, LinkedIn said the eventual integration of company features with Lynda’s video content will potentially allow job hunters to view the skills particular positions require, enroll in courses to build those skills and share their newly earned qualifications and credentials through their LinkedIn profiles for recruiters to see.
“At LinkedIn, we’ve followed lynda.com for a long time, rooted in the conviction that access to high-quality, skills-based learning-and-development content should be available to every LinkedIn member and a fundamental part of our platform,” LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner wrote in a post announcing the deal.
“The combination of LinkedIn and lynda.com is the kind of fit that benefits everyone. LinkedIn has the members, the jobs, a unique understanding of the skills required to do those jobs, and a publishing platform that can be accessed by roughly 350 million people to share professionally relevant knowledge. lynda.com’s service has the premium library of skills-based courses. Together, we can bring opportunities and access to knowledge that everyone deserves,” he added.
Founded in 1995, lynda.com offers instructional videos and courses on a variety of topics, from interior design to coding to photo editing. Lynda.com has traditionally appealed mostly to people who want to improve a certain skill, but it also partners with public institutions and private companies, including Time Warner and Patagonia, to offer educational programming.
Eric Robison, CEO of lynda.com, said the acquisition was an opportunity to ensure lynda.com’s offerings would reach a wider audience.
“In LinkedIn, we have found an incredible partner who shares our vision and passion for empowering people around the world to make real change in their lives through access to information, learning and professional development,” he said in a press release.
Many industry experts had long predicted such a move, as LinkedIn has shown plenty of indications it was planning to expand into the field of online education.
With the growth in popularity of massive open online courses (MOOCs), that allow students from around the world to enroll in online courses – many aimed at building professional skills as well as academic knowledge – it seemed only natural that one of the world’s largest professional job sites would take aim at the educational side of skills building.
One shortcoming of MOOCs has been that they don’t have much clout with recruiters or employers, who may not be clear on the skills gained or information learned through a certain course. A platform like LinkedIn could solve that problem and help define the value of a particular course, Ryan Craig, a partner at the higher education investment firm University Ventures, told BuzzFeed News in a March interview.
“It could show you, ‘Here’s the quickest path to this job: short video courses, MOOCs, assessments,’” said Craig. This would help complete the courses necessary to build required skills and post evidence of their competency, even potentially linking these newly qualified candidates with employers.