Summary:

Publishing giant Wiley has launched Digital Classroom, an online marketplace of software training videos and digital books.

online learning
photo: mtkang

If you want to learn how to create an infographic, build your own website, make heads or tails out of an Excel spreadsheet or accomplish any other software-related goal, you can head to lynda.com, Udemy, creativeLIVE, Codecademy or any of a growing list of online learning sites. But publishing giant Wiley believes there’s still room for competition and on Tuesday took the wraps off of its own Digital Classroom.

Launched in partnership with the American Graphics Institute, the new site provides a marketplace of video tutorials and digital books for learning about creative software, web design and development and office applications. Video tutorials range from newbie-level instructions on how to play music and video on your iPhone to more advanced lessons on using CSS with Dreamweaver.

Like competitors in the space, Digital Classroom targets individuals looking for professional advancement, as well as personal enrichment, and it is looking to snare enterprise clients. Wiley’s move into this space underscores the opportunity companies see in helping individuals and corporations acquire new skills needed to compete in a rapidly changing economy.

Even though other companies already provide software training courses online, Barry Pruett, vice president and executive publisher for Wiley Professional Development, said his company believes it can compete on price ($20 a month or $10 a month with an annual subscription, compared to lynda.com’s starting price of $25 a month) and customization.  Enterprise clients can create their own sites that include the content most appropriate for their employees (potentially including content beyond software training). And college professors can create private groups for their classes, integrate Wiley content with other course content on their university site and track student progress, he said.

Even though the site offers competitive pricing and flexible content integration options, the initial content itself didn’t seem as engaging to me as what Udemy, creativeLIVE and lynda.com offer. From a quick tour of the site, it seemed as though most of the video content included screenshots of the software and audio narration. Much of the content on Udemy and lynda.com, however, puts an expert instructor front and center and alternates video of the software with video of a person talking and other shots for a more interesting experience.  But Pruett said future videos could offer more engaging formats and he emphasized that this is just the first version of the site.

Wiley has a 200-year history and other verticals beyond software training that it could add to Digital Classroom but, for now, its library of 46 courses, 50 digital books and 3,000 videos is dwarfed by lynda.com’s nearly 1.700 courses.

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