5 Trends that are Creating a Global Surge in Online Learning at Organizations

April 14, 2020

5 Trends that are Creating a Global Surge in Online Learning at Organizations

Now that we are all beginning to acclimate to this new world of remote work,  business leaders are turning to their L&D teams to help employees adapt not only to working from home and but also staying connected, productive, and—more importantly—addressing the stress and anxiety that comes with any big personal or professional change. 

In March on LinkedIn Learning, there was a 46% increase in time spent learning by enterprise learners compared to the time they spent learning in February. That’s an additional 750,000 learning hours which equals 86 years or watching the full Game of Thrones series about 11,800 times. 

After speaking with dozens of customers and analyzing LinkedIn Learning enterprise usage data from February and March, we have identified 5 trends that are creating an online learning surge globally.

1. Ready-made online learning is easily accessible while in-person trainers prepare to deliver real-time virtual instructor-led training (VILT)

In our conversations with over 50 customers, we heard these questions consistently across all industries, “How quickly can our trainers transfer an in-person experience into a virtual one?” and “What skills do our trainers need to do this successfully?”

Even at LinkedIn, we’ve asked ourselves these questions and rapidly shifted gears to deliver onboarding, management training, and other learning programs through a blend of video conference technologies and Linkedin Learning courses.

Garrett Rafols, who leads onboarding on our sales readiness team, transformed our in-person sales training into a virtual one on a dime. “When faced with this big pivot, I embraced a growth mindset—which is exactly what I tell new hires to do. For me, this moment was a big learning opportunity to ensure that we continued to deliver engaging and impactful training. Over a weekend, I focused on learning how to use all of our video conference and collaboration tools. I also learned how to spin up a Sharepoint site, thanks to a few courses on LinkedIn Learning,” said Garrett.

While L&D teams manage through this transition, online learning solutions have become the go-to resource for employees to access immediately—from anywhere and anytime—filling the gap while virtual training programs are being created and deployed.

2. Administrators are rapidly creating more learning paths and providing course recommendations

To rapidly address urgent business and learner needs, administrators across all geographies and industries are busy serving up relevant content to employees—content that employees are hungry for. 

Compared to February, the amount of curated learning paths created doubled in March. In fact, many customers told us that they are creating new learning paths on a weekly basis to address evolving needs. 

There was also a 346% increase in the number of course recommendations that admins are making to employees. Given that the top reason why employees would spend more time learning is if they received specific course recommendations, according to the LinkedIn Learning 2020 Workplace Learning Report, this is one of the most effective ways to drive learner engagement.

3. Employees are spending more time learning 

We all know that the #1 thing that gets in the way of learning is not enough time. Regardless of whether learners have more time now because they are no longer commuting or they actually have less time because they are balancing responsibilities at both home and work, people are prioritizing learning.

As we mentioned earlier, LinkedIn Learning has seen a 46% increase in time spent learning by enterprise learners. Interestingly, we saw the biggest uptick coming from Managers and VPs who are not only figuring out how to operate in the new normal, but also help their teams do the same.

In terms of which department is learning the most, it’s sales who now need to nurture their prospect and customer relationships virtually. However, nearly every enterprise function is spending more time learning in March than they did in February.


4. Employees are consuming learning content about how to stay productive and collaborative working remotely

Remote work demands that every employee continues to stay productive and understands how to use a wide variety of virtual collaboration tools they may not have used before. That’s why we’ve seen content on these topics skyrocket in March, when compared to their ranking in February. A few examples among enterprise learners include virtual collaboration which increased 3,000% and video conferencing which increased 1,300%.

In March, four of the 5 top courses that enterprise learners took were focused on how to better adapt to working from home. 

Learners are also interested in content that helps them cope psychologically. In March, three-times as many people watched mindfulness and stress management courses on LinkedIn Learning than the previous month. Learning is not only about building skills, but it has also become a lifeline—helping employees keep the overwhelm at bay.

5. Social learning is on the rise

While we practice social distancing in the physical world, learning has become much more social in the online one. Social learning is a term that everyone defines differently, but we simply think about it as sharing and learning with other learners, regardless of whether it happens in-person or online. 

Social sharing of courses saw a big spike in March vs. February. There was a 67% increase in course shares across a wide variety of channels including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft Teams, and LinkedIn.

Learners are also seeking a like-minded community to learn and navigate their journeys together. Among enterprise learners from February to March, there was a 131% increase in people joining LinkedIn Learning Groups (connected to courses) and a 47% increase in activity in those groups. LinkedIn instructors are also getting more involved and spending more time directly answering learner questions and launching LinkedIn Live sessions.

Taken together, these 5 trends tell a very clear story—learning is a critical piece of helping businesses and employees acclimate to the new normal. We will continue to track these trends—including whether companies have been ushered into a new and lasting culture of learning—and share more findings in the coming weeks and months.