Alison (company)

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Type of site
e-learning, online education
Available inEnglish, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Urdu[1]
HeadquartersGalway, Ireland
OwnerCapernaum Ltd.
Created byMike Feerick (founder and CEO)
Users11 million (2017)[2]
Launched21 April 2007; 14 years ago (2007-04-21)[3]
Current statusActive

ALISON is a free online education platform that mostly focuses on workplace-based skills.[1] It was founded in Galway, Ireland, by Irish social entrepreneur Mike Feerick on 21 April 2007.[4]

It has 17 million registered learners, 3 million graduates and 2,000 courses available for free access in March 2020.[5] Alison's learners have access to online courses, specializations, and degrees in a variety of subjects.


In 2005, while server and broadband costs were decreasing and webpages were becoming more monetizable, Mike Feerick realized that free education could be provided online as a scalable business. In 2006, Feerick developed the platform and designed it. On 21 April 2007, Alison was launched with its first free customer and six courses.[4] Among Alison's stated aims are to drive all costs of accessing digitally-based education and skills training to zero and to bring disruptive innovation to global education and skills training through a scalable business model which enables registered users to be educated for free.[4] In April 2017, the company decided to make a technical overhaul of the platform. The company also launched its mobile application, which drives 50% of the website's traffic worldwide.[2]

On 5 July 2016, President Pranab Mukherjee of India announced the partnership between Alison and the National Skill Development Corporation.[6][7]

Product and services[edit]

Business model[edit]

Alison income is generated from advertising and sales of certificates. 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 it can provide learning materials at no cost to the learner.[according to whom?][4][8] It aims to make learning accessible to blue collar or "bottom of the pyramid" learners.[9]


Alison currently offers more than a thousand courses at certificate, diploma, and learning path levels across nine core subject categories. The certificate level courses require two to three hours of study while the more rigorous diploma level courses require ten to fifteen hours of study.[10] There is no time limit for completing a course.[11][4] One of Alison's courses is ABC IT, a fifteen to hande zengintwenty-hour training suite which is cited by The New York Times as "covering similar ground" to the International Computer Driving License without the cost of certification.[1] In 2020, Alison published a course on the coronavirus and translated it into more than languages.[12]


Alison is accredited by CPD UK Continuing professional development.[13][14]


Alison was among the four winners of the 2010 UNESCO King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa Prize, a Prize for innovation in ICT for Education.[15] In October 2013, Alison won an award at the World Innovation Summit for Education held in Qatar.[16] Since 2013 Alison courses have become generally recognized by many employers, particularly in occupations and disciplines where no external certification by professional bodies post-graduation exist. It is estimated that currently over 1.5 million people around the world have an Alison course on their CV.

David Bornstein of The New York Times noted that 'practical skills training is usually expensive.'[1] Initially some observers also predicted the ineffectiveness of the MOOC model 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.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Bornstein, David (11 July 2012). "Open Education for a Global Economy". The New York Times (editorial). Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b High, Peter (11 December 2017). "Is Alison The Answer To The World's Education Needs?". Forbes. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  3. ^ Bushnell, Niam (16 March 2017). "Mike Feerick: a Meaningful Career on the Internet since 1991". Dublin Globe. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e Glader, Paul. "Khan Academy Competitor? Mike Feerick of Talks About The Future Of Online Education". Wired Academic. Archived from the original on 31 May 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Global online education is thriving from Galway through turbulent times". Connacht Tribune. March 26, 2020. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  6. ^ Malapur, Deepak (18 July 2016). "NSDC and Alison collaborate for skill development across India". Career India. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  7. ^ "ALISON announces new partnership in India". 15 July 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  8. ^ "The attack of the MOOCs". The Economist. 20 July 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  9. ^ "Bottom of the Pyramid Learning". Alison. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  10. ^ "Understand the types of courses offered by Alison". Alison. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  11. ^ High, Peter (11 July 2010). "CEO Of The World's First MOOC Provides Hope To Former Prisoners Through Education". Forbes. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  12. ^ "Coronavirus - What you need to know". Alison. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  13. ^[bare URL]
  14. ^[bare URL]
  15. ^ "Galway-based online learning provider wins top UNESCO prize". Galway Advertiser. 20 January 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  16. ^ Coughlan, Sean (30 October 2013). "Biggest educator you've never heard of". BBC News. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  17. ^ Rees, Jonathan (23 July 2013). "The MOOC Racket". Slate. Retrieved 29 July 2013.

External links[edit]