LinkedIn's 20 most popular online classes of the year reflect how the pandemic has impacted our work lives

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed how we learn. Many schools have shifted to online instruction and many unemployed workers are attempting to re-skill remotely. The result is a surge in demand for online learning resources. 

Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of the online learning platform Coursera tells CNBC Make It the coronavirus pandemic has created "unprecedented demand" for online courses. 

According to LinkedIn, learners spent three times more hours taking courses through the site's LinkedIn Learning platform (which costs $29.99 per month) in July 2020, compared to July 2019.

While online learning has long been seen as a tool for workers to gain specific technical skills, this year LinkedIn's top 20 most popular courses include classes on subjects such as time management and working remotely. Mordy Golding, director of content strategy for LinkedIn Learning says the spike in interest in these subjects reflects workers' desires to connect with others as they adjust to a new professional landscape.

"The power of online learning has never been so apparent as it has in the past year of extraordinary change," he says. "Today's workforce is using learning as a way to ease the transition to a new normal. It's no surprise that we see courses like 'Time Management: Working from Home' and 'Remote Work Foundations' spiking as we adjust to a virtual world of work."

He continues, "But we're also seeing professionals leaning on learning to foster meaningful connections with one another."

Golding cites internal data suggesting that because of the pandemic, 31% of workers feel less connected with their organization's leadership, 37% feel less connected with teammates and 40% feel less connected with their friends. 

"As a result, we've seen a 1,100% increase in people coming together in learning groups to learn new skills and a 255% increase in courses shared by learners with their professional communities," he says. 

While interest in technical skills such as Python and Excel remains high, Golding explains that the number of people learning soft skills online has doubled year-over-year and that some of the organization's most popular online courses reflect the emotional interests of millions of online learners. 

Indeed, how online learners choose to spend their time provides a glimpse into the professional — and personal —priorities of workers today.

Here are LinkedIn Learning's 20 most popular online classes of the year: 

1. Time Management: Working from Home

Instructor: Dave Crenshaw

Course description: With so many demands on your time and attention, it's a tricky balancing act to stay productive. Learn how to set up a dedicated workspace for maximum productivity, collaborate with remote coworkers, craft your daily schedule and how to use virtual meetings productively. It also offers advice for working parents and other caregivers who have to balance professional and personal responsibilities in the home.

2. Strategic Thinking 

Instructor: Dorie Clark

Course description: Strategic thinking is the ability to think on a big and small scale, long and short term, into the past and the present. This course teaches managers and leaders how to use strategic thinking to guide the direction of your teams and come up with solutions to key business problems. 

3. Remote Work Foundations

Instructor: Mike Gutman

Course description: This course shows you how to use today's cloud-based communication and collaboration tools to get work done from anywhere, while remaining connected to your organization. Gutman reveals how you can create a productive work environment, avoid distractions, and build rapport with remote colleagues so you feel like you're part of the team and succeed in your remote career. 

4. Learning Python

Instructor: Joe Marini

Course description: Python — the popular and highly readable object-oriented language — is both powerful and relatively easy to learn. Whether you're new to programming or an experienced developer, this course can help you get started with Python. Senior development advocate at Google, Joe Marini, provides an overview of the installation process, basic Python syntax, and an example of how to construct and run a simple Python program. Learn to work with dates and times, read and write files, and retrieve and parse HTML, JSON, and XML data from the web.

5. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence

Instructor: Gemma Leigh Roberts

Course description: Emotional intelligence can help you build effective relationships at work. Executive coach and organizational psychologist Gemma Roberts explains what emotional intelligence is and why it's important. She helps you become more self-aware so that you can identify triggers that may hijack your performance. She also helps you align your intentions and your impact so that you can build strong and collaborative relationships.

6. 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. 

7. Excel Essential Training (Office 365)

Instructor: Dennis Taylor

Course description: Get up to speed with Microsoft Excel, the world's most popular spreadsheet program. Follow along with Excel expert Dennis Taylor as he demonstrates how to efficiently manage and analyze data with this powerful program. Learn how to enter and organize data, perform calculations with simple functions, and format the appearance of rows, columns, cells, and data. 

8. Communicating with Confidence

Instructor: Jeff Ansell

Course description: Most people are afraid of speaking in public, but effective oral communication is a key skill in business. Jeff Ansell provides simple communication tools, strategies, and tips that are easy to use and produce immediate results. He'll help you sound more confident, use body and language to better express ideas, and overcome anxiety. 

9. Cert Prep: Project Management Professional (PMP)®

Instructor: Sandra Mitchell

Course description: In today's competitive workplace, effective project managers are critical to the bottom line. The PMP demonstrates your mastery, your experience, and your education. Discover what it takes to pass the PMP exam by following along with project manager and exam prep trainer Sandy Mitchell.

10. Project Management Foundations

Instructor: Bonnie Biafore

Course description: Project management is a set of techniques that anyone can apply to achieve goals and make projects more successful. Project management can be used to guide small, simple projects as well as complex enterprise-wide initiatives. In this course, Biafore explains the fundamentals of project management, from establishing project goals and objectives and building a project plan to managing resources and work, meeting deadlines, and closing the project. 

11. 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 5 whys and the 7 so whats, exploring the 80/20 rule, and more. He also provides guidance on how to develop this skill across your whole team.

12. Learning Personal Branding

Instructor: Chelsea Krost

Course description: If you are starting a business, establishing your thought leadership, or trying to get ahead in your career, it's a great time to start investing in the brand of you. Chelsea explains how to develop your story, craft your messaging, and define your audience. Then she walks you through building your brand presence online and off, creating a calendar that will help you stay on top of social media and keep your content fresh. Plus, get tips to monetize your personal brand and land speaking engagements and guest roles.

13. Interpersonal Communication

Instructor: Dorie Clark

Course description: Join personal branding and career expert Dorie Clark as she shares techniques for getting your message across effectively in the workplace, and explains how to tackle potential communication challenges with your colleagues and supervisor. She also discusses how to grapple with tricky situations, taking you through how to handle interruptions, respond to critical feedback, and communicate across cultures.

14. Communication Foundations

Instructor: Tatiana Kolovou and Brenda Bailey-Hughes

Course description: This course helps you communicate better in a variety of professional situations, including meetings, email messages, pitches, and presentations. Instructors Tatiana Kolovou and Brenda Bailey-Hughes introduce the four building blocks of communication—people, message, context, and listening—and show how they apply in different circumstances. Through the use of vignettes and applied tools, the course shows how to build this core competency and communicate in a way that effectively and professionally conveys your message.

15. Improving Your Listening Skills

Instructor: Dorie Clark

Course description: In this course, Clark helps uncover why it's hard to listen well, and how to develop the mindset of a good listener. She also provides multiple listening strategies to help you manage when you're the one not being listened to, how to keep yourself from interrupting, and how to listen to what's not being said. 

16. Microsoft Teams Essential Training

Instructor: Nick Brazzi

Course description: Discover the core features of Microsoft Teams and see how you can bring together colleagues, create conversations and content, and collaborate more effectively. Instructor Nick Brazzi walks you through the essentials of using Teams, including basic setup, how to create scheduled meetings, and more. 

17. Time Management Fundamentals

Instructor: Dave Crenshaw

Course description: Learn how to get more done in the shortest time possible and avoid the obstacles and distractions that can get in the way of good time management. Dave gives practical strategies for increasing productivity in three main areas: developing habits to be more organized and reducing clutter in your workspace; staying mentally on task and eliminate the to-dos you have floating in your head; and developing a time budget to get the most done during your workday and focus on your most valuable activities.

18. Python Essential Training

Instructor: Bill Weinman

Course description: Due to its power and simplicity, Python has become the scripting language of choice for many large organizations, including Google, Yahoo, and IBM. A thorough understanding of Python 3 will help you write more efficient and effective scripts. In this course, Bill Weinman demonstrates how to use Python 3 to create well-designed scripts and maintain existing projects.

19. Excel: Tips and Tricks

Instructor: Dennis Taylor

Course description: Want to take your Excel game to the next level? In this course, veteran Excel trainer and instructor Dennis Taylor shares powerful tips, tricks, and shortcuts that can help you leverage more of what Excel has to offer. Learn time-saving tricks for creating formulas rapidly, accelerating data entry, and navigating within worksheets efficiently. Plus, discover drag and drop techniques, formatting shortcuts, charting and PivotTable tips, and much more.

20. Online Marketing Foundations

Instructor: Brad Batesole

Course description: Learn how to promote your business effectively online and develop a targeted online marketing strategy that engages potential customers throughout the digital landscape. 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.

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