Online Learning for Specialized Skills

Source: NYTimes, Mar 2013

… online learning companies have carved out a lucrative niche in courses on design, photography and other creative pursuits. CreativeLive, Lynda.com and others have tapped into an audience of customers who are highly motivated to hone skills that might help enhance their careers. The online courses are usually less expensive than intensive in-person workshops on photography and other subjects, and can attract top-notch instructors with their promise of big national audiences.

Investors are noticing the profit potential in this niche of online learning. In January, some of the venture capital firms behind Facebook and other technology companies pumped $103 million into Lynda.com, a maker of online training videos for software and other technical tools used by creative professionals.

KelbyTraining.com, a photography education site, has about 100,000 subscribers who pay $25 a month, or $199 a year, for full access to video courses on topics as varied as photographing wildlife or corporate head shots.

Digital-Tutors has more than 1,000 courses on the special effects and graphics tools used by filmmakers and game developers, available to subscribers who pay $45 a month.

Lynda.com is one of the largest sites in the category. Co-founded 17 years ago by Lynda Weinman, who worked on special effects in “Return of the Jedi” and “Tron,” the company had revenue of more than $100 million last year, up 30 percent from a year earlier.

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