With the majority (88%) of organizations encouraging or requiring employees to work from home, the coronavirus pandemic has popularized remote work culture. As more employees turn to digital tools, many are taking the opportunity to brush up on skills or pursue further education.

SEE: Coronavirus: Critical IT policies and tools every business needs (TechRepublic Premium)

The Linux Foundation saw a more than 40% increase in enrollments in its free online training courses over an average week, according to Clyde Seepersad, senior vice president and general manager of training and certification at the foundation.

Docebo, an AI-powered, cloud-based learning platform has also seen an average 18.5% increase in users accessing its platform weekly, since Feb. 1, 2020, said Rob Ayre, communications manager at Docebo.

“eLearning is always valuable, regardless of the state of the world. People like the ability to complete a module at a time, whenever is most convenient, and wherever they happen to be—whether that is at their desk, on the train, or on their couch,” Seepersad said.

“But, with stay at home orders expanding worldwide, it is especially valuable now that billions around the world cannot attend in person training,” Seepersad noted. “It not only helps build new skills, but it gives people something to do with their time that is productive and useful. When this situation eventually ends, those who have taken the time to learn a new skill will be better positioned than those who did not.”

Some certification providers are even giving waivers and discounts to employees wanting to upskill during this time. CompTIA, for example, announced on Monday that it is making its eLearning course on the fundamentals of IT free of charge.

“In this time of uncertainty and change, the best organizations are leveraging eLearning as a communication and reinforcement mechanism,” said Neha Gupta, CEO of True Office Learning, an eLearning and analytics provider. “With distributed employees needing information about a new way of working, a self-paced digital experience is the most powerful tool an employer can provide.”

Popular eLearning courses

eLearning, overall, has seen a significant increase in usage across industries and topics. It’s hard to determine the single most popular courses, because so many vendors and training exist. Industry experts were able to provide some insight into the topics people seem interested in, however.

“We have seen an immediate demand for micro-courses on COVID-19 preparedness, working from home effectively, and cybersecurity best practices to ensure employees stay safe and productive,” Gupta said.

Cybersecurity has long been a popular training course, but the coronavirus preparedness and remote work training appear to be particularly timely.

Vettery, an online hiring marketplace, recently transitioned its entire team to a remote working style. The company has encouraged its employees to take courses and workshops to enhance or learn new skills during this strange time, said Samantha Friedman, senior vice president of people strategy at Vettery.

“The most popular courses across the team are workshops and bootcamps revolving around SQL and Excel,” Friedman said. “Members of our Operations and Product teams, in particular, have made significant investments in their career development by signing up for 10-week part-time courses for product management, product design, data science, and data analytics.

“In addition to functional training, we also encourage all new managers to take workshops relating to leadership, coaching, and having difficult conversations,” Friedman added. “We believe that courses like these are critical in helping our employees propel their careers forward.”

At the Linux Foundation, Seepersad said they’ve seen the biggest jump in their free courses, but also some uptick in paid eLearning. Overall, the most popular courses on those have been in Linux, Kubernetes, and Hyperledger Fabric.

One interesting detail found by Docebo was that the majority of its users are logging in first thing in the morning. Peak traffic time for online courses landed between 9 and 10:30 am, “which could indicate employees are using training to ‘get in the zone’ when working from home,” Ayre said.

Regardless of the reasoning, eLearning usage has seen an unquestionable rise with more people working from home.

For those interested in picking up some eLearning courses, check out The top 20 IT training companies on TechRepublic.

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