The 25 Most Popular Online Classes This Year

October 20, 2017

The 25 most popular courses this year on LinkedIn Learning and are, among others, body language for leaders and project management foundations.

Great professionals are always learning – it’s what makes them great. But often, the challenge is figuring out what to learn next, when there are so many skills out there you could master. 

There are a few different paths you can take to answer that question. You can look at what skills are the most sought-after by organizations. You can look at the skills that’ll most help your career. Or, you can look at the skills professionals are most eager to learn, a signal of their importance to succeeding in business.

This article is centered on that last point. It is a list of the 25 LinkedIn Learning courses professionals viewed the most so far in 2017, a testament to both the need for that skill and the effectiveness of the course:

1. Body Language for Leaders

Instructor: Carol Kinsey Goman

Course Description: In this course, workplace body-language expert Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD, reveals how body language is perceived and often misread, and shares the six nonverbal signals you need to know to make a positive first impression. She also discusses the importance of body language for leaders, and shows how you can establish leadership presence. Lastly, she provides simple and effective tips on communicating with gestures and stance.

2. Project Management Foundations

Instructor: Bonnie Biafore

Course Description: In this course, Bonnie Biafore explains the fundamentals of project management, from defining the problem, establishing project goals and objectives and building a project plan to managing team resources, meeting deadlines and closing the project. Along the way, she provides tips for reporting on project performance, keeping a project on track and gaining customer acceptance.

3. Excel 2013: Advanced Formulas and Functions

Instructor: Dennis Taylor

Course Description: In this course, author Dennis Taylor demystifies some of the most challenging of the 300+ formulas and functions in Excel and shows how to put them to their best use. The course starts with a review of the more basic, building-block functions and a few critical keyboard shortcuts that will speed up working with Excel data, even on multiple sheets. Taylor then covers how to perform advanced searching and data retrieval with Lookup functions, tabulate and sort data with counting and statistical functions, format data with text and math functions and work with financial data using advanced formulas.

4. J.T. O'Donnell on Making Recruiters Come to You

Instructor: J.T. O’Donnell

Course Description: Learn what recruiters look for, and how to help them find you. J.T. O'Donnell is a LinkedIn Influencer and an expert on job search and recruiting. She helps job seekers understand the modern job search and make the most of recruiters, specifically how to use recruiters in the LinkedIn marketplace, how to understand the role of the resume and cover letters in the job search process and how to connect and follow up with a recruiter.

5. Online Marketing Foundations

Instructor: Brad Batesole

Course Description: In this course, Brad Batesole explains today's digital marketing techniques in simple terms, demonstrating how to build a successful online marketing campaign for all digital channels: search, video, social, email and display. Brad shows how to evaluate your website and identify conversion goals, measure and interpret website analytics, get the most out of SEO and set up your first text and display ads. See how to connect with communities on the leading social networks, learn best practices for developing and distributing video marketing content and find out what makes an email marketing campaign successful. The course also covers content marketing and mobile marketing, as well as recommendations for expanding your digital marketing skillset.

6. Managing Your Time

Instructor: Todd Dewett

Course Description: In this short course, author Todd Dewett, PhD, shares four time-management tips that help everyone from busy executives to new employees get more out of their work day. Learn how to think differently about time management, embrace the 80 percent rule, find your "Einstein" window, protect that window and broadcast your availability to ensure others know when you'll be available.

7. Data Science and Analytics Career Paths and Certifications: First Steps

Instructor: Jungwoo Ryoo

Course Description: The career opportunities in data science, big data and analytics are growing dramatically. These are among the most sought-after jobs in the tech world today. If you're interested in changing career paths, determining the right course of study, or deciding if certification is worth your time, this course is for you. Jungwoo Ryoo is a professor of information science and technology at Penn State. Here he reviews the history of data science and analytics, explores which markets are using big data the most, and reveals the five main skills areas: data mining, machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), statistics and visualization. This leads to a discussion of the five biggest career opportunities, the four leading industry-recognized certifications available and the most exciting emerging technologies. Along the way, Jungwoo discusses the importance of ethics and professional development and provides pointers to online resources for learning more.

8. Agile Project Management Foundations

Instructor: Bob McGannon

Course Description: In this course, author and Project Management Professional Bob McGannon shows you the tools and techniques you need to successfully manage a project through the agile life cycle. Learn how to use agile for the right projects and then walk through the four major phases in the cycle, from scoping the work and designing your sprint structure to collecting requirements, managing the project without interfering in the rapid build process, adapting to feedback and closing the project. In the bonus chapter, Bob discusses real-life challenges he has encountered running agile projects, giving you real-world perspective into the project life cycle.

9. Acing Your Interview

Instructor: Valerie Sutton

Course Description: Ace your interview and land the job you want. Join author Valerie Sutton as she explores the different types of interview questions and styles you might expect and how to prepare for them by researching the company and practicing your answers. Uncover the best ways to create a good first impression and navigate the interview, as well as handle the tricky questions and identify the unlawful ones. Plus, learn how to assess your own performance, thank the company for their time and follow up on a decision.

10. Excel 2013 Essential Training

Instructor: Dennis Taylor

Course Description: Whether you're a novice or an expert wanting to refresh your skillset with Microsoft Excel, this course covers all the basics you need to start entering your data and building organized workbooks. Author Dennis Taylor teaches you how to enter and organize data, perform calculations with simple functions, work with multiple worksheets, format the appearance of your data and build charts and PivotTables. Other lessons cover the powerful IF, VLOOKUP and COUNTIF family of functions; the Goal Seek, Solver, and other data analysis tools; and how to automate many of these tasks with macros.

11. Excel 2016 Essential Training

Instructor: Dennis Taylor

Course Description: Start mastering Excel, the world's most popular and powerful spreadsheet program, with Excel expert Dennis Taylor. Learn how to best enter and organize data, perform calculations with simple functions, work with multiple worksheets, format the appearance of your data and cells and build charts and PivotTables. Other lessons cover the powerful IF, VLOOKUP and COUNTIF family of functions; the Goal Seek, Solver, and other data analysis tools; and automating tasks with macros.

12.  Negotiating Your Salary

Instructor: Valerie Sutton

Course Description: In this course, author Valerie Sutton shows smart ways to set up a foundation for negotiating your salary, discuss your strengths and follow up to achieve agreement. Discover how to research the salary range for the position you're applying for, put it in the context of your salary history and make a persuasive request. Whether you're at your current job or making a leap to the next, this course will help compare your expectations and performance with others, and negotiate for not only the best take-home pay, but also a combination of benefits, such as vacation days and flextime, that work for both you and your employer.

13. Critical Thinking

Instructor: Mike Figliuolo

Course Description: In this course, leadership trainer and expert Mike Figliuolo outlines a series of techniques to help you develop your critical thinking skills. He reveals how to define the problem you're trying to solve and then provides a number of critical thinking tools, such as blowing up the business, asking the five whys, asking the seven so whats, using the 80/20 rule and more. He also provides guidance on how to develop this skill across your whole team.

14. Learning Data Analytics

Instructor: Robin Hunt

Course Description: The goal of this course is to teach analysts and nonanalysts alike the basics of using data for analysis and reporting. Robin Hunt defines what data analysis is and what data analysts do. She then shows how to identify your data set, interpret and summarize data and perform specialized tasks such as creating workflow diagrams, cleaning data and joining data sets for reporting. Chapter 4 covers techniques for initiating, managing and troubleshooting data analysis projects. No matter where you are in your analytics career, this course will help you put data in perspective.

15. Excel Tips Weekly

Instructor: Dennis Taylor

Course Description: This tips-based course will show Excel users productivity-boosting tricks, cool hidden features, need-to-know functions and advanced content on subjects such as using PivotTables for data analysis. Tune in every Tuesday for a new tip from expert Dennis Taylor. Each tutorial is a short, self-contained lesson guaranteed to give you new insights into Excel.

16. Data Science Foundations: Fundamentals

Instructor: Barton Poulson

Course Description: This course provides a comprehensive overview of modern data science: the practice of obtaining, exploring, modeling and interpreting data. While most only think of “big data,” there are many more fields and concepts to explore. Here Barton Poulson explores disciplines such as programming, statistics, mathematics, machine learning, data analysis, visualization and (yes) big data. He explains why data scientists are now in such demand, and the skills required to succeed in different jobs. He shows how to obtain data from legitimate open-source repositories via web APIs and page scraping, and introduces specific technologies (R, Python, and SQL) and techniques (support vector machines and random forests) for analysis. By the end of the course, you should better understand data science's role in making meaningful insights from the complex and large sets of data all around us.

17. Leadership Foundations

Instructor: Britt Andreatta

Course Description: Do you want to cultivate leadership traits that will help you inspire your team, successfully manage change and conflict and better serve the needs of your organization? In this course, leadership consultant Britt Andreatta explains what real leadership is, how to assess your strengths and ways to cultivate the traits the best leaders employ to make their organizations strong and innovative. The course includes information on developing and mentoring your team, creating an engaging workplace, developing political savvy, analyzing your industry and honing your emotional intelligence.

18. Asking Great Sales Questions

Instructor: Jeff Bloomfield

Course Description: All too often sales calls become an interrogation, leaving the prospects wondering where the conversation is leading. In this course, author and Fortune 500 sales coach Jeff Bloomfield provides an alternative, based on the principle that effective sales start with focusing on the issues that matter most to your customers. Jeff helps you gain insight into your customer's business problems, and use those insights to guide your sales questions. He teaches you how to create and ask effective, probing questions; validate the business impact of your solution and dig deeper when necessary. He also provides advice on maintaining the right tone throughout the conversation—leading to a more successful sales interaction and a long-lasting relationship with the customer.

19. Programming Foundations: Fundamentals

Instructor: Simon Allardice

Course Description: This course provides the core knowledge to begin programming in any language. Simon Allardice uses JavaScript to explore the core syntax of a programming language, and shows how to write and execute your first application and understand what's going on under the hood. The course covers creating small programs to explore conditions, loops, variables and expressions; working with different kinds of data and seeing how they affect memory; writing modular code; and how to debug, all using different approaches to constructing software applications. Finally, the course compares how code is written in several different languages, the libraries and frameworks that have grown around them, and the reasons to choose each one.

20. Communication

Instructor: John Ullmen

Course Description: Effective communication is more than what you say. Make your message more impactful, and get the results you want in work and life. In this course, author and UCLA Anderson School Professor John Ullmen, PhD, walks you through strong and clear communication strategies that will help you improve your listening, your message, your delivery and your effectiveness. These strategies work across departments, teams and cultures and help you get through communication blockers.

21. Leading With Emotional Intelligence

Instructor: Britt Andreatta

Course Description: In this course, leadership consultant Britt Andreatta shows how to develop emotional intelligence to better lead teams, work with peers and manage up. Learn what emotional intelligence is and how it factors in at work and discover concrete techniques for raising your own emotional quotient (EQ). This includes perceiving yourself accurately, exercising emotional self-control, practicing resilience and developing empathy. Then turn those lessons around to build your awareness of others and learn to inspire helpful communication and manage conflict.

22. SQL Essential Training

Instructor: Bill Weinman

Course Description: This course is designed to help users understand the most common language for database wrangling, SQL. Beginning with a quick start introduction for those who want to start working with data immediately, instructor Bill Weinman teaches all the major features of SQL: creating tables; defining relationships; manipulating strings, numbers and dates; using triggers to automate actions; and working with subselects and views. He offers a solid working knowledge of the language, and shows how to retrieve and manage data efficiently. The final chapter includes a real-world example of building a simple CRUD (Create, Read, Update and Delete) application using SQL.

23. Interviewing a Job Candidate for Recruiters

Instructor: Barbara Bruno

Course Description: In this course, expert recruiter Barbara Bruno draws on her 30 years of experience to help you develop a comprehensive interview process. You'll learn how to identify talent gaps in a team, evaluate the job description and ask questions to uncover the patterns, habits and behaviors of the candidate. Barbara emphasizes the importance of communicating throughout the process in order to retain candidates and make sure offers are accepted. She also conducts role play that ties together all the lessons in the course and provides sample interview questions to help guide you in your interviewing efforts.

24. SEO Foundations

Instructor: David Booth

Course Description: Increase your website's visibility on search engines like Google and Bing and attract the right kind of traffic to the right pages on your site. Learn about search engine optimization including how to read a results page, find your ranking and see how rankings affect businesses large and small. Discover how to implement foundational optimization strategies and techniques, including how to conduct keyword research, build inbound links, optimize your pages and content, measure your successes and progress and plan for a long-term SEO strategy. Additionally, learn specific SEO tips for ecommerce, local search, and mobile audiences to expand your reach.

25. Six Sigma Foundations

Instructor: Richard Chua

Course Description: Learn how to apply Six Sigma to drive improvements in the performance of your processes, products, and services. Dr. Richard Chua explains the fundamentals of Six Sigma – a customer-focused, data-driven approach to improvement. He'll go over the basic concepts, including critical-to-quality (CTQ) requirements, variation, defects per million opportunities (DPMO), the roles and belts of Six Sigma professionals and the criteria for identifying Six Sigma projects successfully. The rest of the course walks through the five phases of Six Sigma DMAIC – Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control – and the steps, data, and key deliverables involved in each phase.

A few takeaways from the list

There are several interesting takeaways from this list. They include:

  • Big data is having a big impact.

Data science is the most in-demand skill in the world and you see that reflected on this list. More and more people are considering joining the field, which is why the seventh course on this list – the one on data scientists career paths, a course for someone thinking about getting into data science – is so popular.

Additionally, you see other courses on data science, analytics and SQL (a common tool among data scientists) on this list. Even Microsoft Excel, the most popular topic on this list, is a tool used to organize and interpret data.

  • Project management is top-of-mind.

With three courses on this list dedicated specifically to the topic, clearly project management is a focus for professionals. And there’s good reason why: the principles of project management apply to every job, across every level of seniority.

In other words, virtually everyone would benefit by taking a course on being a better project manager.

  • Soft skills reign supreme.

What’s most interesting is that “soft skill” courses outnumber “hard skill” courses on this list. Body language, for example, is by far our most popular course – a subject which most would consider a soft skill.

The point? Yes, hard skills are often critical to get your job. But soft skills are always critical to excel in your role, and build the strong relationships necessary for lasting business success.

Interested in viewing the 25 courses listed, along with the thousands of others in our content library? Check out LinkedIn Learning today