Alison (company)

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Alison - Screenshot.png
Screenshot of's webpage.
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)
Alexa rankNegative increase9,508[2]
Users11 million (2017)[3]
Launched21 April 2007; 11 years ago (2007-04-21)[4]
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.[5]

It has 11 million registered learners, 1.5 million graduates, and 1,000 courses available for free access in December 2017.[6] Alison's learners have access to courses published by institutions like Columbia University, Cambridge University, Yale University, and companies such as Microsoft and Google.[7]


History and development[edit]

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.[5] 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.[5] 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.[3]

On 5 July 2016, President Pranab Mukherjee of India announced the partnership between Alison and the National Skill Development Corporation, which included a partnership with Rabindranath Tagore University.[8][9]

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?][5][10]


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.[11] There is no time limit for completing a course.[12][5] One of Alison's courses is ABC IT, a fifteen to twenty-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]


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.[13] In October 2013, Alison won an award at the World Innovation Summit for Education held in Qatar.[14]

David Bornstein of The New York Times noted that 'practical skills training is usually expensive.'[by how much?][1] Some[who?] 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.[15]

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. ^ " Traffic, Demographics and Competitors - Alexa". Alexa Internet. 6 January 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b High, Peter (11 December 2017). "Is Alison The Answer To The World's Education Needs?". Forbes. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  4. ^ Bushnell, Niam (16 March 2017). "Mike Feerick: a Meaningful Career on the Internet since 1991". Dublin Globe. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Bonk, Curtis J.; Lee, Mimi M.; Reeves, Thomas C.; Reynolds, Thomas H. (12 June 2015). MOOCs and Open Education Around the World. Routledge. ISBN 9781317614159.[page needed]
  7. ^ Holden, Louise (21 March 2012). "Special Report — Ashoka 'Change Nation'". The Irish Times.
  8. ^ Malapur, Deepak (18 July 2016). "NSDC and Alison collaborate for skill development across India". Career India. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  9. ^ "ALISON announces new partnership in India". 15 July 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  10. ^ "The attack of the MOOCs". The Economist. 20 July 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Understand the types of courses offered by Alison". Alison. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  12. ^ High, Peter (11 July 2010). "CEO Of The World's First MOOC Provides Hope To Former Prisoners Through Education". Forbes. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  13. ^ "Galway-based online learning provider wins top UNESCO prize". Galway Advertiser. 20 January 2011. Retrieved 19 January 2011.
  14. ^ Coughlan, Sean (30 October 2013). "Biggest educator you've never heard of". BBC News. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  15. ^ Rees, Jonathan (23 July 2013). "The MOOC Racket". Slate. Retrieved 29 July 2013.

External links[edit]