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LinkedIn launches real-time Office Hours for professional development

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LinkedIn today launched Office Hours, a feature that lets instructors host live events on LinkedIn Learning, the social network’s professional online course platform. With Office Hours, users can interact with experts and fellow learners in real time by posting questions, comments, and reactions, taking part in classes that were previously asynchronous.

During the pandemic, online learning platforms experienced massive growth. BYJU’S, a Bangalore, India-based education tech company, saw a 200% increase in the number of new students after announcing free live classes on its apps. Coursera added 35 million enrollments between mid-March 2020 and the end of July 2020. And companies like Amazon have invested in upskilling as well. According to McKinsey, 68% of organizations invested in education and reskilling during the health crisis, responding to changes like remote and hybrid work arrangements.

LinkedIn’s Office Hours is designed to make it easier for instructors to take part in the growing “creator economy,” LinkedIn product lead Jonathan Rochelle says. Using it, experts can connect with learners in a way that drives engagement and potentially wider distribution of their work, in the process building an audience in a “relevant professional context.”

LinkedIn Office Hours

“So many of us are thinking about what comes next when it comes to work. The reality is we are in the midst of a moment of unprecedented change … where people are rethinking everything about how they work and why they work. As such, people are taking control of their career in new ways, leaning on their network and honing their skills,” Rochelle said. “In fact, comparing this year to last year, our members watched 53% more hours of learning content.”

A growing library

LinkedIn Learning got its start in 2016, when LinkedIn folded content from Lynda.com — which it acquired for $1.5 billion in 2015 — into its larger elearning portal. Subjects, which can be selected by users or recommended by employers, touch on business, technology, and creative topics, including writing, accounting, programming, and more.

Like other online learning platforms, LinkedIn Learning has experienced substantial growth that can be attributeded to the pandemic. According to LinkedIn, in the first week of April 2020, users watched 1.7 million hours of learning content on LinkedIn Learning versus 560,000 hours in the first week of January — a 3 times increase.

The launch of Office Hours comes after LinkedIn said it would expand its free LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn courses and pilot Skills Path, a feature that aims to give job candidates a way to demonstrate their skills with assessments. LinkedIn also recently debuted  Career Coach, a Microsoft Teams app to help pre- and post-graduation college students discover new goals, interests, and skills.

LinkedIn’s growing learning resources play an integral part in Viva Learning, a component of Microsoft’s recently unveiled digital Viva platform for large-scale organizations. Learning combines a company’s communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights in a single dashboard, allowing employees to discover, share, assign, and learn from content libraries across LinkedIn Learning, Microsoft Learn, third-party content providers, and custom content.

“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen learners embrace social learning features like Q&A, where they can ask the LinkedIn Learning community a question and get answers from instructors, their network, or their coworkers,” Rochelle continued. “We consistently hear from our members that they want new ways to stay on top of timely topics. The world of work is changing so quickly, with new challenges emerging every week that professionals are hungry to discuss with one another.”

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