When Lynda Training Isn’t Enough

Lynda Training, IT Certifications, IT ProsWriting an article often starts with a great idea followed by a rude awakening, and this article is no exception. My working title was, “Why Lynda Training is not Enough,” but after some research, I discovered Lynda training is enough for a lot of people in a lot of productive environments.

Can my scepticism be blamed? As a member of the IT training industry, I’m naturally wary of any training program that is mass distributed rather than tailored to an individual’s learning needs. However, as I hunted to find flaws in the world’s favorite online training website, and LinkedIn’s most expensive acquisition, I found that the once mom and pop online training company was rather legitimate.

Nevertheless, I would be lying to say Lynda.com is the right learning resource for every training need, especially when it comes to training IT professionals. There are some circumstances when Lynda training isn’t enough.

When Lynda Training Isn’t Enough

Lynda Weinman, founder and Executive Chair of Lynda.com, now a LinkedIn company, produced bite-size training videos long before brevity became in vogue, but some holes in her business model let IT professionals fall through the cracks.

To give Lynda.com benefit of the doubt, prior to October 20, 2014, the online training platform didn’t offer IT training options. According to a press release put out that day, Lynda’s video library expanded to include “…hardware infrastructure, network administration, business intelligence, content management, help desks, and big data….” Despite being in its freshman year of IT training, the gaps that Lynda.com has when it comes to training this target market are too big to fix with a proven track record.

Lynda.com may never be a viable training option for IT professionals who want to increase their technical ability and earning potential.

Lynda Training May Never Offer Return On Investment

We live in a world where return on investment is everything, even in the realm of education. Whether you attend a university or trade school, education is known to offer a return on investment. But is this true for Lynda training?

Months before news of LinkedIn’s 1.5 billion dollar acquisition of Lynda.com, Weinman spoke with Forbes about the pricing model she stuck with since her startup days. “We always charged for our work without over charging,” she said. “And people who respected it and learned from us shared their appreciation by telling others.”

Today, Lynda holds true to this principle. It would be hard to say that Lynda.com’s pricing model is anything but fair. The least expensive membership is 24.99 per month, which allows access to all videos. The most expensive membership is 359.88 annually (which breaks down to 29.99 a month). It includes, in addition to access to the entire video library, “…files the instructor uses to teach the course,” and “Offline Viewing,” which enables members to download an unlimited amount of videos to their mobile devices. In a world where the best price is free, Lynda.com comes pretty close.

But cheap isn’t always good for IT pros. While inexpensive online training videos may help them freshen up rusty skills or reinforce their learned knowledge, it is not likely to help them get a raise. Like a college degree or technical training accreditation, IT professionals need to prove that they’ve consumed and retained worthwhile information, and can practice what they’ve been taught in order for training to raise their earning potential. Lynda.com cannot provide this.

At present day, Lynda.com issues completion certificates that imply every video in a training series has been viewed. And even though these certifications can be shared in social media, they do not merit a pay increase like an authorized certification does.

In the United States, an Information Technology Manager can make more than six figures with these certifications:

More so, American-based systems administrators and engineers with VMware Infrastructure 5 Certifications (VCPs) report earning salaries as high as $91,000 – $134,938.

With no authorized certification paths, investing time and money into Lynda training may never offer ROI. And, at this point in time, there is no sign that Lynda will ever offer learning paths that end in authorized certifications. Weinman addressed the subject of certification testing in a Lynda.com blog post, which is no longer available to view on the website. However, Skilledup quoted the post, saying:

Shortly after launching the certificate feature, founder Lynda Weinman posted a blog post requesting feedback about inclusion of testing in certification. She asked—“The question was bound to come up—will we ever offer tests and “real” certification; something that assesses a member’s actual skill?” The question itself shows recognition that completion certificate have very limited value. Weinman continued in her post to say that there was no plan to incorporate testing in the immediate future, although the majority of the 54 commenters to her open blog question were in favor of testing.

As Lynda.com begins to carry more weight as a LinkedIn company, its reputation as an inexpensive training provider might continue to grow in esteem. But for now, it’s safe to say a Lynda.com completion certification doesn’t hold a candle to authorized certifications doled out by Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco, Citrix, or VMware. And with the free exam vouchers that are often available to IT pros, paying a couple thousand dollars for an intense, live, training course can easily be seen as the better investment considering salaries for these professionals earn upwards of six figures when they have an authorized certification tied to their names.

Lynda Training vs IT Training Companies

In 1991, around the time Lynda Weinman was beginning to lay the foundation for Lynda.com, Jennifer Didier was starting Directions Training Center Inc. in the suburbs of Chicago. The very different companies promise customers a similar outcome: training that helps you learn something you didn’t know before. But, in addition, Directions also enables students to prove what they’ve learned.

For over 20 years, Directions has been training successful IT professionals with a customized, hands-on approach, which is a far cry from Lynda.com’s one-size-fits-all business model.

Aimageedit_2_7003674298At Directions Training, IT pros can reap a return on their training investment. Aside from participating in live classes with subject matter experts, IT pros are also able to prepare for certification exams and even take select exams at multiple Directions Training facilities. But this doesn’t mean IT pros have to leave the comfort of their home to join in training. While many have the option to take the class in-person, most opt to participate virtually. Thankfully, this added convenience does not disrupt the level of interaction students can have with instructors and peers. All sessions are conducted live on an interactive platform, Adobe Connect.

In addition to having the ability to interact with subject matter experts, at Directions, IT pros also have access to hands-on labs. This means that, rather than sitting through lectures, IT pros can practice what they learn in an environment that allows them to ask for assistance if and when questions arise.

Even though Directions classes last up to five days, the return on investment of time and money comes back in droves with the IT certifications students can obtain after completing classes.

When Lynda Training Isn’t Enough

Ultimately, Lynda training is great, but for the IT Pro, video-based online training is not always enough. To increase their earning potential and reach higher levels of expertise, IT professionals are better off investing in IT training courses that are live, interactive, and seen as pathways to obtaining certifications.

In the process of writing this article, I got a dose of humility when I realized Lynda.com is an excellent training resource for a lot of industries. But, as a word to IT pros: don’t rely on Lynda training alone. Invest in training that will increase your earning potential and elevate your career. Work with an authorized IT training provider to get where you want to go.


Leave a Reply