About.com is a large site with an interesting business model: Find experts in a huge number of areas, make them “Guides,” and use them to develop lots of content. One of the areas they have identified and have found an expert for is adult/continuing education. While some sections of this site don’t apply to corporate trainers, training departments, and the consultants that serve them, there are many areas that do. If you’re looking for a good starting point to research a variety of training topics, AdultEd.About.com will have you off and running.

Main site sections
The site is set up like all About.com subject areas, which makes navigation especially easy if you are familiar with their site. But even if you aren’t, the site provides straightforward navigation and clearly identified areas, including:

  • NetLinks: The content “meat” of the site
  • IntheSpotlight: The home of a variety of other related tools and features
  • Community: FAQs, polls, chat, and a newsletter
  • RelatedAbout.comGuideSites: A short list of other areas of About.com that might be of interest to those visiting this site

In this review, I’ll focus on the NetLinks and In the Spotlight sections of this site. However, the Related About.com GuideSites section features two other sites that will be the topic of future reviews: Computer Certification and Distance Learning. Watch in the coming weeks for those reviews.

The biggest research value available on this site is in the NetLinks section. There are 31 topic areas you can explore, and a handy set of descriptions explaining each of these topics is provided as well. While some of these topics won’t be of interest to the corporate community, such as GED and Family Literacy, many others are directly applicable, including Facilitation, Icebreakers, Training & Development, Teaching Tips, and Adult Learning Theory.

Each NetLink is a page of other topical resources and links throughout the Web. In many cases, there are exclusive articles as well. These are written by the Guide and are clearly identified.

In the past, I’ve reviewed several of their Facilitation links and resources for TechRepublic (which means they must be good, right?). The Icebreakers link has very useful original articles written by the Guide, as well as many great link resources. This is probably the best online resource I have found for icebreaker exercises.

Spotlight section
The spotlight section allows the Guide to, well, spotlight some offerings of the site. From here you can go to the site forum, which, after registering, allows you to go to a room for teachers, a room for students, a library, or a common room. The spotlight section also offers you a chance to participate in ongoing polls of interest, check out new feature articles, and see what’s new on the site.

Final impressions
Overall, I like the model About.com is following, and I feel that this site in particular is very useful to those of us in the training and development business. Finding just one of the 31 NetLinks that is an area of interest makes the site worthwhile, but having so many to choose from improves the odds that more than one or two will be useful. Take a look for yourself—and find out what adult/continuing education is all about (.com)! Figure Ashows the summary of my review.

Table A
Here’s Kevin’s summary of his review of AdultEd.About.com.

Kevin Eikenberry is president of the Discian Group, a learning consulting company in Indianapolis.

If you would like to comment on this article or have any questions or suggestions for other Web sites to review, please follow this link to write to Kevin.