Type of site
|e-learning, online education|
|Available in||English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian. Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Urdu|
|Created by||Mike Feerick (founder and CEO)|
|Users||11 million (2017)|
|Launched||21 April 2007|
It has 14 million registered learners, 2 million graduates and 1,500 courses available for free access in March 2020. Alison's learners have access to online courses, specializations, and degrees in a variety of subjects published by many big name universities and organizations.
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. 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. 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.
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?] It aims to make learning accessible to blue collar or "bottom of the pyramid" learners.
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. There is no time limit for completing a course. 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. In 2020, Alison published a course on the coronavirus and translated it into more than languages.
According to the Alison website, Alison is not currently accredited by any external body, and does not intend to be accredited at any time in the future,  while delivering courses with up-to-date international pedagogical standards.
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. In October 2013, Alison won an award at the World Innovation Summit for Education held in Qatar. 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.' 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.