Illustration of someone reading a book and their head exploding

There’s a reason the internet has lost its collective mind over do-it-yourself projects like breadmaking recently: exploring new skills is the pandemic-era hotness. In fact, this is a great time to learn skills that can help you advance your career. But until conferences and classrooms are up and running again, online learning is your best bet for engaging, interactive professional development.

Like many companies, Atlassian offers a yearly learning and development budget as well as a number of educational resources, such as online learning platforms, to help employees hone and expand their skills. I sat down with our Learning and Development Lead, B.J. Schone, to find out which resources stand out and why we chose the ones we did.

WHAT’S YOUR “LEARNING LETTER”?

As you browse the online learning opportunities below, think about whether you’re an I-shaped, T-shaped, or X-shaped professional.
I-shaped: Deeply knowledgable in a single subject area (or multiple, unrelated areas).
T-shaped: Deeply knowledgable in one subject area, with shallower knowledge across related and complementary subjects.
X-shaped: Deeply purposeful, with knowledge in any and all subjects connected to that purpose.

If you haven’t tapped into your own L&D allotment yet – or forgot you had one! – use this curated list of “learn from home” options to find the best match for you and your career goals.

LinkedIn Learning

Cost: $288 annually, or $30/month

“This is my top pick overall”, B.J. says. It’s the top choice for Atlassians, too. Maybe that’s because it’s geared toward knowledge workers and produced by LinkedIn. In other words, the service is run by the same category of people it aims to serve. The LinkedIn Learning team takes full advantage of the fact that people discuss professional topics and on their social platform, using trend analysis to inform plans for new courses. This well-resourced platform already offers several thousand courses on general business topics like managing team conflict as well as technical subjects like Spring Boot and Docker, with more rolling out each month.

Being a well-rounded person doesn’t pay anymore — here’s what does

getAbstract

Cost: starting at $99 annually for 5,000 book summaries

If you’re one of those people who can’t resist clicking on headlines like “50 books Bill Gates thinks you should read this year” (and wistfully sighs at the thought of actually having the time to crank through 50 books), this is the service for you. getAbstract provides users with five-page summaries of popular business and professional development books on over 350 topics like leadership, time management, sales, and investor relations. Think of it as the Cliff Notes version of an airport bookstore. With a library of 20,000 nonfiction books, it’s the busy professional’s best bet for keeping up on the books and trending topics you (used to) hear about at the water cooler.

Udemy

Cost: courses starting at $12.99

Udemy is a lot like LinkedIn Learning, but with a YouTube-esque twist. Not only do they offer around 100,000 video courses on a wide range of professional topics, but anyone can upload a course to the platform and share their knowledge. And also like YouTube, the most popular uploads rise to the top. While Udemy didn’t necessarily start with a mission to democratize online learning, this feature does create space for voices coming from outside of mainstream academia. The caveat here is that Udemy’s doesn’t necessarily review user-generated courses for accuracy or quality, so you may want to look up the course’s creator to make sure they know what they’re talking about (in theory, at least). Or, take the guess work out of it and try the more expensive Udemy for Business, which does curate content.

Coursera

Cost: most courses are free; most certificates and credentials $100-300

Still holding on to your high school sophomore dreams of attending Yale? It’s not too late! Coursera features course content from around 200 major universities, including Stanford, Macquarie University, and, yes: Yale. Even companies like Google, PWC, and Atlassian offer courses on the platform. While English dominates, there’s plenty of content for non-English speakers – 70 courses on leadership and management in Arabic, for example – from universities across the globe. (Or, if world languages are your thing, they’ve got you covered for Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and a few others.) You can use Coursera to earn anything from a course completion certificate to a bona fide MBA, all online.

Next Big Idea Club

Cost: starting at $198 annually

5 questions about motivation with Daniel Pink

Think of it as a celebrity book club for social science geeks. Each quarter, members receive two books – choose from ebooks or (omg!) physical books printed on paper – selected by the all-star best-selling author team of Daniel Pink, Malcolm Gladwell, Susan Cain, and Adam Grant, along with a study guide. Then the fun continues online with discussion forums and live Q&A sessions with the authors of selected books, as well as a library of supplemental video courses and author interviews. Past book topics have ranged from interpersonal communication to unconscious bias to artificial intelligence to aging.

In fact, they’ve made their e-course on bias free to the public. This 11-part video series based on Stanford psychologist Jennifer L. Eberhardt’s book “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do” dives into the science of bias and what we can do about it.

Atlassian University

Cost: $0-400 for individuals, with team packages available

There are no dormatories or athletic programs at Atlassian U – just loads of how-to courses for end-users and admins alike. Learn the basics of using Confluence for content management, deep-dive into Jira workflows, see how to use Git the Atlassian way, or become a certified Atlassian administrator. Until June 30th, many of our tutorials and “skillbuilders” are available free, on-demand. Don’t miss it!

O’Reilly Learning

Cost: $499 annually, or $49/month

Y’know those books with the black-and-white drawings of animals on the cover? The ones gracing the desks of every IT professional and developer you’ve ever met? Yep it’s that O’Reilly. Whether you’re a designer needing to bone up on HTML, a site reliability engineer looking to pad your skillset with some data science, or considering a career shift into the AI space, you’ll find something interesting here. The platform offers video, audio, and interactive content to suit your learning style, taught by a mixture of academics and practitioners.

Pluralsight

Cost: starting at $299 annually, or $29/month

Pluralsight offers interactive courses in technologies related to software development, IT/Ops, data science, architecture and design, information security, machine learning, cloud computing, and quite a few more. What makes it stand out from other tech-centric platforms are the skills assessments in everything from Angular JS to the Adobe suite to AWS to agile methodologies. From there, users can select from over 7,500 courses ad-hoc, or embark on a curated learning path, some of which offer certifications at the end. Along the way, you can practice hands-on and make all those “rookie mistakes” in a risk-free environment.

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