As soon as Microsoft announced its $26.2 billion deal to purchase professional networking site LinkedIn, members of the higher education community started wondering: What does it mean for us?
Speculations center around Microsoft’s stated intentions for the popular online learning platform, Lynda.com, which LinkedIn acquired in 2015.
“In the future, LinkedIn Learning (Lynda.com) will tightly integrate into Office, enabling users to have a more seamless experience and access to on-demand courses,” the company wrote in an investor presentation.
That integration may be just the beginning, though.
Ryan Craig, the managing partner at University Ventures, says the partnership will push colleges and universities to unbundle degrees.
“As employers move from degree-based hiring to competency-based hiring, many will determine that degrees are not a priority or even required for certain jobs,” Craig says in an interview with EdSurge. “Over the next few years, degrees are likely to become MIA in many job descriptions. And this will lead an increasing number of students to seek postsecondary education bundles that are shorter, less expensive, and more clearly connected to careers or even specific employers.”
An article on Quartz offers another expert’s view of how the deal between the software giant and leading professional network might reshape workplace productivity, as well as today’s competency development and hiring processes:
A LinkedIn-Microsoft product would not only help workers work, but also teach them the skills to get hired in the first place.
“LinkedIn has a unique advantage in the education space, in that they are the only place where hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily giving their longitudinal job and education history — which allows potentially for some unique analysis of what programs and courses or certifications actually lead to improved career paths,” says education consultant Michael Feldstein. Microsoft could examine that data and then offer those programs itself.
While Feldstein says Microsoft likely has “too much to lose by competing against traditional universities,” with whom it has close partnerships, it could easily dominate the corporate training market — currently a fragmented space with plenty of room for new players.
Even if Microsoft focuses entirely on corporate competencies, colleges and universities could still feel the impact.