Alison (company)

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Type of site
Online education
Available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian. Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Urdu
Owner Private
Created by Mike Feerick, founder and CEO
Alexa rank 8,699 Global, 8,324 India (July 2013)[1]
Registration Required
Launched April 2007"Free Online Courses, Workplace Skills Training, Interactive Education and Multimedia Learning". ALISON. Retrieved 2013-07-31. </ref>

Alison is an e-learning provider founded in Galway, Ireland in 2007 by serial entrepreneur, Mike Feerick.[2][3][4][5] It is one of the world’s largest players in free online education – and one of the world’s largest certifiers of educational and skills attainment.[6] As a for-profit social enterprise, its stated objective is to enable anyone, anywhere, at any time, to gain basic education and workplace skills for free. Considered by many to have been the first MOOC, Alison predates when the MOOC acronym was born [7][4][8] As of Dec 2017, Alison had 11 million registered learners, 1.5 million graduates, and 1,000 courses available for free access[5] Like other MOOC providers with close links to American third level institutions such as MIT and Stanford University, Alison's learners have access to courses published by institutions like Columbia University, Cambridge University, Yale University, and companies such as Microsoft and Google.[9][10]

Business model[edit]

Alison invites publishers to put some of their courses on the platform, some who wish do to so for no monetary return, others in turn agree to provide their content for free on Alison's website due to the shared revenue gleaned 'mostly from advertising and sales of certificates.'[4] According to The Economist, the company seeks to drive education through advertising in the manner of television and radio. Through the online pay per click advertising revenue model, Alison has founded a business model whereby 'learners in the developed countries are essentially paying for those in developing countries' while providing the learning materials for free.[2]


Alison currently offers over 500 courses across certificate and diploma level in ten languages.[3] The certificate level courses necessitate 1–2 hours study with the more rigorous diploma level offerings requiring 9–11 hours study on the part of the learner.[4] Alison note on their website that 'there is no time limit on completing a course, so learners can study entirely at their own pace' and that some of the courses such as the Microsoft Digital Literacy Program may take up to 20 hours to complete.[11] One of Alison's most popular courses ABC IT, a 15–20 hour training suite is cited by the New York Times as 'covering similar ground' to the International Computer Driving License without the cost of certification.[4]


David Bornstein noted that 'practical skills training is usually expensive.'[4] Some have argued for the ineffectiveness of the MOOC model of this kind in delivering real educational impact, highlighting the lack of personal interaction with educators and the high drop-out rate of users with no incentive to commit without any material investment of their own.[12]

Other sources have noted the 'sustainable' manner of Alison's operating procedure, The Economist suggesting that Alison generates 'plenty of revenue' on its website while still providing its learning materials of 'mostly vocational education' for free.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2013-07-22. 
  2. ^ a b Glader, Paul. "Khan Academy Competitor? Mike Feerick of Talks About The Future Of Online Education". Wired Academic. Wired Academic. Archived from the original on 31 May 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Booker, Ellis (January 30, 2013). "Early MOOC Takes A Different Path". Information Week. Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Bornstein, David (July 11, 2012). "Open Education For A Global Economy". New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Emmons, Gary. "Education Innovation — 5 Bright Ideas". Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin. Harvard Business School. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  9. ^ Goldmark, Peter (June 22, 2012). "A Website That Lifts People Up". Newsday. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  10. ^ Holden, Louise (March 21, 2012). "Special Report — Ashoka 'Change Nation'". Irish Times. 
  11. ^ "How Long Do Courses Take to Complete?". ALISON: help. ALISON. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Rees, Jonathan. "The MOOC Racket". Future Tense: The Slate. The Slate Group. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "The Attack Of The MOOCs". The Economist. July 20, 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013. 

External links[edit]