LinkedIn unveils Learning, redesign and chatbots

LinkedIn Learning will advise you what courses you need to keep your skill set up to date

LinkedIn has boosted its online training platform, revealed a site revamp, and showed off chatbots - its first major launch since being bought by Microsoft for $26 billion earlier this year.

That deal with Microsoft is still in the works and expected to close later this year, but the launch gives a sneak peek at what the companies may have planned for the professional social network.

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To start, the company unveiled LinkedIn Learning, a new version of its online education platform developed out of its own acquisition, The aim is to tell LinkedIn users what skills they need, and then help them acquire them.

"With more than 450 million member profiles and billions of engagements, we have a unique view of how jobs, industries, organizations and skills evolve over time," said Ryan Roslansky, vice president of consumer products, in a blog post. "From this, we can identify the skills you need and deliver expert-led courses to help you obtain those skills. We're taking the guesswork out of learning."

Roslansky said LinkedIn Learning already had more than 9,000 digital courses, with topics ranging from technical skills like programming to "soft" leadership skills and even languages.

LinkedIn hopes the personalisation brought by the data it collects via its social network will help it better suggest the courses that will help your career, giving it a leg up over rivals such as EdX and Udacity. It's easy to see how Microsoft's own professional accreditation courses could find a home on LinkedIn Learning, too.

New design and bots

LinkedIn is also finally updating its desktop design, bringing it into line with the mobile app, which Roslansky said was "the largest redesign since LinkedIn's inception". The company didn't say when the "new experience" would be rolled out.

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Another change is an improved messaging tool, with the company claiming a 240% increase in the number of messages sent via the site, with half of active members using the feature every week.

The messaging tool will be embedded on the platform to make it easier to ping any contact, regardless of where you are on the site, and it will include chatbots.

"How often do you wish you had a personal concierge or an assistant to help you identify and schedule a time that works for a meeting?" Roslansky said. "We believe this combination of bots and messaging on LinkedIn could be game changing and will something our members can use daily."

That's another area where the tieup with Microsoft will come in handy, as the software giant has been pushing bots heavily - including its foul-mouthed Tay Twitter bot.

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