The number of naysayers of online education may be decreasing in the upcoming years as online tutorials and classes are being offered in major colleges and institutions including schools like UC Berkeley and Brown University. With the acquisition of lynda.com by LinkedIn, online education may have just become on trend. My advocacy of online learning is well-known as I have taken courses at EdX, Coursera and even lynda.com — which has been a useful tool for my creative oeuvre. But in order for online education to gain validity in public opinion, it has to go Ivy League, and no other school grows ivy better than Harvard University.
In my experience, the Intro to Computer Science (CS50) at Harvard has taken the online platform and done what all online courses should emulate. What LinkedIn can learn from CS50, aside from securing brilliant instructors like CS50’s David Malan, is the strategic planning and consumer-based focus on education. The production value of the experience is also highly effective and impressive. The class even includes TAs in videos for problem set explanations, reviews of lectures; and lecture transcripts are all available to students.
One of the critiques of online learning is the lack of immersion but as technology advances, so does the immersive potential of online teaching methods. I found CS50 highly immersive and had no problem with the online format.
A persuasive argument for online is the freedom to set your own pace and the cost. Did I mention the Harvard CS50 class is free (For $90, you can get a verified certificate to put on your CV or hang on your wall)?
So yes, the Harvard experience may be a high bar for lynda.com to reach but maybe it should be the norm instead of the bar. From what I have experienced, lynda.com classes are pretty standard, with ‘bite sized’ modules ranging from about 3-15 minutes and easy-to-follow video screening, and a membership to unlimited videos for lynda.com is only $25 a month. The only disappointments were the limited topics and difficulty in finding online follow-up tutorials to complete my course.
Still, I remain a big fan of lynda.com but if we’re talking about comparing the lynda.com experience to the CS50 one, there are big shoes to fill – ones that LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner will have to address if lynda.com is going to live up to its “billion-dollar unicorn” status.
On Weiner’s recent Pulse blog, he sounds optimistic, “Together, we can bring opportunities and access to knowledge that everyone deserves.”
His optimism combined with his 10-year plan for LinkedIn, sets them in a position to blend, “identity, networks and knowledge” seamlessly; and a good model for Jeff Weiner to mirror in order to head in the right direction is as simple as taking lynda to Harvard.