Online IT Training Options Flourish During Pandemic

Online training options have grown in popularity as individuals look to expand their skills remotely while dealing with the one-two punch of a global pandemic and a challenging economic environment.

Sean Michael Kerner, Contributor

September 11, 2020

5 Min Read
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a broad impact on the IT landscape as organizations and individuals around the country and the world are forced to social distance.

Among the areas that has been impacted is IT training. Remote, online IT training options have grown in popularity as individuals look to expand their skills while dealing with the one-two punch of a global pandemic and a challenging economic environment.

"We saw a significant uptick in traffic from all over the world starting in mid-March, and we were proud that edX could serve as a resource to those impacted by the spread of the coronavirus," said Anant Agarwal, founder and CEO of edX. "In April alone, we gained 5 million new learners globally, which is the same amount that joined edX in all of 2019.”

The edX platform is one of many different online options available for online IT training. Another popular platform is Pluralsight, which is focused specifically on IT skills. Brandon Peay, EVP of Skills at Pluralsight says that his platform has seen a significant number of individual users and enterprises use the time to bolster their skills since COVID-19 hit in March. Peay noted that usage on Pluralsight has been over 300% higher than it was a year ago.

Why People are Flocking to Remote IT Learning: To Boost Their Careers

Agarwal says edX was actively surveying learners coming to edX for the first time in the early days of the pandemic to better understand why they were coming to the platform.

He said that the majority of people reported that they were coming to edX to learn something new (35%) or gain new skills to advance their careers (24%). A recent survey conducted by edX of U.S. consumers found that 45% are more likely to enroll in an online course that improves their career prospects.

"EdX is always looking to bring the most in-demand courses, programs and degrees to our platform, especially now," said Agarwal. "In the computer science realm, we most recently launched a Professional Certificate program in TinyML from Google’s open-source machine learning platform, TensorFlow, which is one of the most cutting-edge and future looking fields."

According to an edX survey from June 2020, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on training. Fifty eight percent of individuals surveyed said that COVID-19 has impacted their decision to seek more education and 65% reported that since working from home due to COVID-19 began, they want to find a different job.

Maureen Lonergan, director of AWS Training & Certification for Amazon Web Services, said that in the current environment, organizations and individuals are looking to improve their skills. According to Global Knowledge, IT professionals who took training were 30% more satisfied with their jobs than those without current training.

Another benefit of online IT training is the ability to gain new certifications, which can help to improve salary levels. Lonergan noted that AWS Certified professionals earn salaries up to 29% higher than the norm for certified staff, and 10% higher compared to other cloud certifications. She added that according to Global Knowledge’s 2020 Skills and Salary report, the AWS Certified Developer - Associate certification and the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate certification are two of the 10 highest paying certifications.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Self Training or Instructor-Led?

With no shortage of options for a prospective learner to find online IT training, it can be overwhelming to decide what to do.

Clyde Seepersad, senior vice president and general manager of training and certification at the Linux Foundation, suggests that the first consideration a user should make is to determine whether they want to take an instructor-led or a self-paced course.

For example, synchronous, instructor-led classes can be very valuable but require that you be able to secure a location with good internet and few/no interruptions for multiple consecutive days. On the other hand, individuals who are prone to procrastination might find the scheduled component of such a class to be a boon and really struggle with a purely self-paced eLearning course.

"Regardless of the modality, the main recommendation I give to folks is to seek out classes that have a substantial amount of hands on lab activities for the users to complete," Seepersad said. "While watching videos is convenient, you're not learning if you're not doing."

Looking at the Best Options for DevOps Training

When evaluating DevOps and developer-specific online IT training there are a number of key resources that individual should look at.

Given the prominence of cloud in modern IT infrastructure and DevOps, AWS Training and Certification is one good option to consider. Lonergan says AWS has prescriptive learning paths for developers and DevOps engineers that provide recommended courses to advance toward AWS Certifications. The Developer Path also includes an in-depth Ramp-up Guide with recommended digital training, videos, and whitepapers.

Additionally, AWS partners with edX, which has an AWS Developer Series, which consists of three courses: AWS Developer: Building on AWS, AWS Developer: Deploying on AWS, and AWS Developer: Optimizing on AWS. Both edX and Coursera also offer “Building Containerized Applications on AWS.”

Pluralsight's Peay noted that programming languages and frameworks are among Pluralsight's most popular courses. He noted that Python remains incredibly popular, as engineers look to capitalize on data science innovations and implement AI and machine learning applications. "JavaScript is, unsurprisingly, an incredibly popular topic on the platform as well," Peay said. "Similarly, frameworks like Angular and libraries like React are tremendously popular, as our users look to deliver services to market faster."

Here are some notable online DevOps training courses:

Course Title: DevOps Foundations

  • Provider: LinkedIn Learning        

  • What you learn: Basics of DevOps        

  • Time Commitment: 3 hours      

  Course Title: Cloud DevOps Engineer nano-degree

  • Provider: Udacity   

  • What you learn: Understanding of building and deploying infrastructure as code

  • Time commitment: Approximately 160 hours

Course Title: DevOps Engineering on AWS

  • Provider: AWS       

  • What you learn: Learn DevOps best practices to develop, deliver, and maintain applications and services   

  • Time Commitment: Approximately 24 hours    

Course Title: Introduction to DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering

  • Provider: Linux Foundation          

  • What you learn: Introduction to the foundation principles and practices of DevOps       

  • Time Commitment: 12 hours      

About the Author(s)

Sean Michael Kerner


Sean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast and tinkerer. He consults to industry and media organizations on technology issues.

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