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Online Course Providers Are Making Offers You Can't Refuse

Now that you're working from home and not spending all that time on a daily commute or regular showers, instead of binge-watching back episodes of Rick and Morty, you might want to use that time to up-level your skillset with some online education -- much of which is suddenly very affordable.

Many of the top online technology education providers are offering deals during the lockdown. Pluralsight, for example, has a "Free April" offering that includes free, unlimited access to the Pluralsight Skills platform for the entire month. The company is allowing anyone to access Pluralsight's entire library of more than 7,000 courses during the month.

The Udacity "Quarantine Special" gives enrollees 30 days of free access to many of the classes in the company's catalog, including its newly announced Intel Edge AI for IoT Developers Nanodegree Program, which was developed with Intel and uses the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit to provide this training. (More on that course in this Pure AI article.)

Udemy's April deals include 90 percent discounts on a number of courses. Introduction To Python Programming is one of a number of free courses currently being offered by the online education provider.

Coursera has a seven-day free trial, and edX has posted a list of coupon promotions and discounts on its Web site.

Clearly, many of you don't need my advice on this subject. (OK, most of you.) Earlier this month, Udemy reported a spike in enrollments in its online courses, including a 62 percent popularity jump during a 30-day period for its Complete Guide to TensorFlow for Deep Learning with Python course, and a 45 percent spike in interest in its ChatBots: Messenger ChatBot - DialogFlow and nodejs course.

Pluralsight's April deal is also drawing quite a crowd. The company is reporting more than 898,000 new sign-ups and over 142,000 skill assessments completed as of Monday. I had a chance to talk with  Gilbert Lee, head of content at Pluralsight, about how the online learning business is going during the lockdown. He said the company's most popular offerings are application development courses, which was true before the lockdown.

"What I think we're seeing now is some urgency around the idea that the world is changing because of the pandemic," Lee told me. "We're all talking about this new reality and what that might mean for all of us going forward. But no one really knows what it will mean, and that creates insecurity. We're seeing all these folks who want to make sure they're skilled up and deep in competitive technology areas -- say, an application developer studying machine learning and AI, which wasn't such a big deal in their jobs before, but has become increasingly important."

There's an irony here, in that the tech sector is proving to be stronger than many other industries during the lockdown. The businesses that have remained open need technology more than ever. (Can I get a "zoom" from somebody!)

"That's right," Lee said, "but not only are the professionals going deeper, but we're seeing a surge of people getting into tech, looking to begin developing new careers."

The company has also put together a deal for Pluralsight One that is less unwieldy for accessing thousands of courses. Plurasight One is a separate program focused on bridging the technology skills gap for nonprofits and educators.

"Throughout the lockdown we will be pursuing our core mission, which is to democratize technology skills," he added. "We're building goodwill and we're providing a tangible benefit and a service we are super proud of."

Posted by John K. Waters on April 23, 2020