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How to choose an online learning platform for tech skills

Effective employee upskilling starts with the right online learning platform. Learn what IT professionals need to learn and apply new technical skills.

Jun 20, 2024 • 6 Minute Read

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  • IT Ops
  • Engineering Leadership
  • Business
  • Team Development
  • Learning & Development

When it comes to upskilling tech professionals, choosing a skill development platform and getting employees to use it are two separate things. 

But if you understand what IT professionals actually need to learn and apply new technical skills, you can make more informed buying decisions, boost employee engagement, and give tech teams the online training they need (and want) to succeed.

In this post, we explain how to overcome upskilling challenges in an ever-changing industry and what to look for in employee training platforms for tech skills.

Table of contents

The challenge: Online IT training features outdated technologies and tech skills

When the tech industry changes as quickly as it does, IT professionals need skill development resources that address the latest tech trends and emerging technologies. If IT training is outdated, employees may learn irrelevant skills, and your organization will struggle to keep pace with the competition.

Look for tech learning platforms with just-in-time training for emerging technologies

Technologists need just-in-time training to stay up-to-date on the skills most relevant to their industry. The right learning platform can even help your teams identify and build the technology skills they’ll need in the future. Look for employee training platforms that lean on subject matter experts (SMEs) to inform their content library and identify emerging trends, market shifts, and growing skills gaps. 

When assessing content freshness, it’s also important to look beyond the initial publication dates. IT courses with older publication dates aren’t necessarily outdated—the information may still be relevant. Meanwhile, courses with recent publication dates may not be as new as they seem. Those updates may be nothing more than a few slide changes.

Questions to ask your training provider about content freshness

Asking certain questions can help you assess online learning platforms and understand how they keep their tech training relevant.

  • How frequently do you publish new content?

  • How long does it take to publish online courses for new security threats or emerging technologies? 

  • How do you identify which tech skills and technologies to make content for?

  • How do you determine when an IT course needs to be updated or refreshed? How often do you assess courses for updates? 

  • What does an update or refresh entail? Is it just a slide or description change? Or is it a new addition or refresh of an entire section?

The challenge: Online learning platforms have too much content

Learning providers often boast thousands of courses and learning materials. But a large library isn’t the same as a valuable library. In some cases, it can even create new challenges for learners. With thousands of courses to choose from, many on the same topic, technologists struggle to pick one and start their learning journey. 

30% of technologists already don’t know where to focus their skill development. When learning platforms pair tech skill development with baking lessons or crocheting tutorials, it can be even harder for tech professionals to find the content they need.

Identify employee skill development focused on technical skills

Rather than a huge library of online courses on a variety of topics, technologists need IT training relevant to their role and industry. Look for online learning platforms that focus on technical skills and related workforce-ready skills. For example, most cloud engineers need security and soft skills in addition to cloud knowledge.

Platforms with customizable learning paths or channels will also help technologists focus their upskilling efforts. This boosts engagement and ensures teams learn skills tied to projects or organizational goals.

Questions to ask your training provider about tech skill development

Consider these questions to determine if a learning platform can help your teams develop relevant tech skills.

  • Does the upskilling solution help my teams build relevant skills they need now and in the future?

  • Does the platform focus on technical skill development?

  • How is content structured on the platform? Are there learning paths for specific roles, tech certifications, or skills? Do learners have a clear and logical way to progress?

  • Can team leaders create custom learning journeys for their team? Can individuals create personal learning paths?

The challenge: IT courses contain unreliable or inaccurate content

According to YouTube’s Culture & Trends Report, 82% of people have posted video content online over the past 12 months. But not everyone who creates content is an expert or a talented instructor. Organizations that rely on YouTube and other open-source platforms risk their teams learning inaccurate information from unreliable sources. Varying production value and inconsistent quality can also hinder technologists’ learning experience.

Seek out subject matter expertise from tech professionals

IT professionals want to know they’re spending their time learning from the best and brightest experts in their field. That’s why content created from experts and tech practitioners is the top feature they look for in learning platforms. When assessing upskilling solutions, understand who the instructors are, what qualifications they have, and how engaging they are.

Questions to ask your learning platform about accuracy and engagement

Ask these questions to vet a platform’s learning content for accuracy and learner engagement.

  • Who creates the content on your platform? How do you vet them? What qualifications must they have?

  • How do you ensure courses and labs are engaging for the learner? How do you ensure consistent quality and production value?

  • What format do most courses take? Do they mostly consist of slide decks and voice-overs?

The challenge: Online courses don’t accommodate different learning styles

Everyone learns differently. Video content alone isn’t enough for most IT professionals to master new technical skills and apply them confidently on the job. 

Organizations that favor video content also tend to rely on metrics like course completion and watch time to track upskilling success. But watching a course to the end doesn’t mean someone can apply what they learned. Organizations that track only surface-level metrics won’t understand how learning impacts projects and larger organizational goals.

Uncover 17 ROI metrics for L&D programs.

Use tech training platforms with hands-on labs and skill assessments

The majority of technologists say using hands-on labs and sandboxes alone or with video content is the most effective at preparing them to apply new learning on the job.

Look for IT training that offers a variety of learning modalities, such as video content, hands-on labs and sandboxes, live instructor-led training, and AI assistants. Technologists can find the format that suits their learning style and take control over their learning journey. 

IT professionals also need a way to track their skill mastery and progress over time. Skill assessments can help them identify their strengths and areas of improvement while building confidence. Assessments can also help leaders identify undiscovered skills and talent on your teams.

Questions to ask your technology training provider about learning modalities

Consider these questions to assess your learning platform for different learning styles.

  • What type of learning modalities do you offer? Online courses, hands-on labs, sandboxes?

  • How can I track skill development? What data does the platform provide? 

  • How can my team track their learning? Do you provide skill assessments or something similar?

  • Do you have features to incentivize learning (like badges)?

Overcome upskilling challenges with a culture of learning

The right online learning platform can help you engage learners, fill technical skills gaps, and overcome common upskilling challenges.

But a platform alone isn’t enough for your upskilling efforts to succeed. If you hand a platform to your teams without support or direction, you’ll still struggle to build employee engagement. Support teams, give them time to learn, and build a culture of learning from the top down.

Not sure where to begin? Take Pluralsight Skills for a spin. Start a free trial for you and your team.

Pluralsight Content Team

Pluralsight C.

The Pluralsight Content Team delivers the latest industry insights, technical knowledge, and business advice. As tech enthusiasts, we live and breathe the industry and are passionate about sharing our expertise. From programming and cloud computing to cybersecurity and AI, we cover a wide range of topics to keep you up to date and ahead of the curve.

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