Certifying online education

LinkedIn announced yesterday that it is buying Lynda.com for $1.5 billion in cash and stock. Here is LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s take on the acquisition and here is the perspective of Lynda.com co-founder Lynda Weinman.

As a professional networking site, LinkedIn is home to the largest number of professional profiles on the web. This makes it a great source of potential employees for companies looking to recruit talent at all levels. I know this from our HR Manager Sevla who uses LinkedIn as her primary tool to discover candidates for our startups.

On the other end is Lynda.com, home to one of the world’s largest libraries of educational content online. Although Lynda.com has thousands of courses, and hundreds of thousands of students and teachers using its platform, its courses have yet to be accepted as formal credentials by companies. While users have been able to upload Lynda.com course completion certificates to LinkedIn since 2013, these certificates have yet to gain widespread acceptance from companies. Taking a programming course on Lynda.com makes the student a better developer but since this course isn’t recognized by large tech companies with formal recruiting processes, they’re in no better shape when applying for a job. Until now.

With LinkedIn’s acquisition of Lynda.com, LinkedIn will be able to use its powerful relationships with companies’ HR departments to convince them to accept Lynda.com courses as formal credentials for a potential employee. Your certified education will no longer consist of just the institutions you attended but also the Lynda.com courses, and potentially other certified courses, you’ve completed. I wouldn’t be surprised if LinkedIn purchases other high quality online education course libraries in the future. By helping certify these courses in the eyes of companies, LinkedIn will solve the core problem constraining the growth of online education.

This move could be a game changer for the adoption of online education. It has the potential to shift how future generations of students signal their value to companies from the name of the college they attend to the job-specific training they receive. It’s a very smart play by LinkedIn and one whose true impact we will further appreciate in retrospect.