If you have ever been confused about how to select the best online courses for you or your company, Lguide.com can solve this problem. Lguide.com rates and reviews online courses to help you find the best in e-learning. This Web site has partnerships with leaders in the e-learning industry to help potential customers find the courseware they need. Current partners include BizQuiz.com, Click2learn.com, Guru.com, and Headlight.com.

Site overview: Courses and a course selector
Lguide.com is separated into two distinct sections: one about the courses on the site and the second about how to use the site.

The Find Courses section presents information about courses in three areas: Professional, Personal, and Academic. The professional courses cover business and technology topics; the personal section includes languages, personal development, and personal finance subjects; and the academic section (the weakest of the three) offers college entrance courses and university courses, but the latter is still under development and has no offerings.

When you have selected a course topic, you can read reviews of the courses available on Lguide.com in an abbreviated or full version. You can sort the short reviews by rating, price, publisher, and skill level.

The Find Courses section also offers the Course Wizard. This wizard asks a series of questions about your e-learning interests and makes recommendations based upon your responses. The first question asks if the course is for you or for your employees, and the rest of the questions are based on that initial response. The questions go into some detail, such as this one from the “for employees” series:

“I would like these people to know how to use their computers to:

  • Design and manage databases.
  • Create documents, manage spreadsheets, send e-mail, and create presentations.
  • Design and create custom applications and software.
  • Study to become a certified engineer or technician.
  • Create and maintain a Web site.
  • Design and manage a network of computers.
  • Create graphics, artwork, or multimedia projects.”

The wizard also considers cost, asking how much you want to spend per trainee. In a request for Excel classes that cost under $300, the wizard came up with 36 classes that ranged in price from a free beginner’s class to $179 for series of classes.

The wizard results also include a few sentences from the reviews of each course as well. This sampling of reviews seemed upfront and honest about the quality of the courses. Sample review comments on four different courses include:

“Take a well-guided tour through the newest version of Excel. This course covers everything a beginner wants and needs to know. Plus, it introduces special features like Chart Wizard and Word Art.”

“This series will catapult your Excel skills from beginner to intermediate in no time, once the graphics load. The slow wait is worth the fast learning.”

“This course gets a grade of ‘A/F.’ ‘A’ for content, ‘F’ for delivery.”

“This is a free course that introduces the basics of Office 2000. But you get what you pay for. This is more of a simplified help manual than a course.”

Using the site
The Explore Lguide section is divided into four areas:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Featured Reviews
  3. About Our Reviews
  4. Resource Room

Getting Started includes a quick tour and FAQs, and provides how-to information.

Featured Reviews includes comparative reviews and recent tours.

About Our Reviews explains the review process and covers reviewers, criteria, and ratings.

The Resource Room contains information about links to other sites, industry events, and newsletters from Lguide.com, e-learning articles, industry newsletters, and publisher profiles.

Strengths of the site
One of the best features of Lguide.com is the full review of e-learning products. This review supplies a course rating, price, course duration, operating systems the software will run on, bandwidth required to run the software effectively, skill level of the courses, and the appropriate audience.

It also provides a detailed discussion of the course, including a description of its ease of use and value, and details the design and delivery of the course. If you want to buy the course for yourself or your organization, you can purchase it through Lguide.com.

The course wizard is also helpful. It takes about two to three minutes to use and offers a good range of course suggestions.

The academic area of the course guide is the only area that lacks related courses. The only listing in this area is under college entrance exams. The only course in this category is an SAT preparatory course. There are no listings for university courses.

Also, and this may be too picky, but you can select only one topic when using the wizard, such as e-mail software or spreadsheet software. You have to go back through the questions if you want recommendations on two types of courses.

Final impressions
Lguide.com presents in-depth reviews and useful content. For a training organization, this is a good site to use for needs analysis and price and content comparisons. It is basically one-stop shopping. You can read the review, compare classes, and make a purchase all at one site. The resource room has current information regarding the e-learning industry. There are links to great training information.

Lguide.com could improve its site by expanding its partnerships to include universities and additional courses, which it says is in the works. For now, it is a good site to visit to obtain detailed information on the e-learning courses available from the current partnerships.

Here is Alicia’s review of Lguide.com

Alicia White is a part-time teacher at a business college and a business analyst at a bank headquartered in the Southeast. She has a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in education.

Would you buy a class based on the descriptions and comments on Lguide.com? What other information would you like to have about a course before deciding to take it? Tell us what you need to know about online courses before taking the plunge.