We all know that the Web is a medium for transferring information and providing education. Just how successful it is at this is still under debate.

As training professionals, we need to keep our eye on this ball and “get in the game” as often as we can by looking out for what people are doing with online learning. This week’s review of Learnlots.com is a way to examine how the “game” is going—to see how one site is providing online tutorials and how this site can help you and your organization.

Site basics
Learnlots.com is in the business of providing free tutorials, delivered in a variety of ways. The home page boasts over 10,000 “consumer technology” tutorials—a big number by any standard. You can search for the tutorial you want, or start in one of six main categories listed along the left side of the page, just under the search box. These major categories are:

  • On the Web
  • Handheld computing
  • MP3s and digital multimedia
  • Linux
  • Software applications
  • Hardware and operating systems

Once in these categories, you can use the focused search or select one of the many subcategories listed to help you find what you need. Each page also contains several other useful features, including news related to that subject, recommended reading and products, a “How Do I …” section (which has links to tutorials on commonly asked questions), and a short list of the most popular tutorials in this area.

The tutorials
The tutorials themselves are designed to be very specific about particular tasks and generally have four to eight steps. These HTML tutorials are also supported by graphics. There is also a long list of tutorials in “multimedia” format. These require a Real Player. (These are accessed through a separate topic listing under the Multimedia link on almost all pages—this list, however, is not subdivided into the six major categories mentioned above.) The quality of the tutorials varies by author, but overall they seem good.

Beyond Web delivery, there is also a wide variety of tutorials available “to go.” You can select tutorials to download to your PalmPilot, to the Avantgo format for handhelds, or the Rocket eBook format.

Other features
Learnlots is always looking for new tutorials, so if, as a training professional, you would like to provide one, the site gives you ways to contact them about this opportunity. Also, if you have a Web site and think these tutorials would be valuable to your readers, Learnlots.com has interesting plans for co-branding their content on your site—in a way that maintains your site’s look and feel.

Final impressions
If you are looking for highly technical information, this may not be the site for you. If you are looking for a broad range of tutorials, many of which could supplement your classes or reduce the pressure on your IT help desk staff, then this site could be of great interest to you. The site is well laid out, and while I would like to be able to search the “to-go” tutorials in the same way as the Web-based ones, I like the option of downloading tutorials.

Overall, I like this site and think that it could be a useful resource in some situations. Additionally, there are many useful tutorials for individuals as well.

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 of other Web sites to review, please follow this link to write to Kevin.

Here is Kevin’s review of Learnlots.com