About the Project

This project is one of the 2013 WISE Awards winners.

Alison is the world’s largest free online empowerment platform. It was founded in 2007, with a mission of wielding the power of free education to transform lives, and ultimately, the world. Today, Alison is still guided by that belief and has empowered 30 million+ learners and 6 million+ graduates across 195 countries – through 4,000+ CPD-accredited Certificate and Diploma courses and a variety of impactful career development tools.

Alison enables everyone, everywhere to not only learn, but also find careers they are interested in, get upskilled for careers through relevant courses, discover their professional strengths through psychometric tests, and build a resumé so that they can apply to their dream jobs – all for free. Furthermore, Alison offers an Affiliate Programme that can enable to earn an additional income.

Alison also enables organisations as a whole to empower their workforce through a Free Learning Management System (Free LMS) that is easy to use and quick to set up. Alison’s Free LMS is free for unlimited users and also includes a variety of impactful features that are transforming how organisations and non-profits upskill their employees. These include personalized & pre-curated courses, in-person learning advisory support, co-branded Certificates, and in-depth tracking, analytics and reporting of learners’ learning progress, among many others.

Context and Issue

Education is a basic human right but education and workplace skills training has been expensive and difficult to access for all. With Alison, millions can now study for free, take assessments and get certified, helping them to learn new skills, obtain new knowledge, and show competency in what they have learned, or may already know. Above all, Alison helps people become more employable, by teaching new skills or improving personal productivity. It allows people worldwide to up-skill for free and be less encumbered by personal debt as a result of their investment in education and training. The project seeks to level the playing field for hundreds of millions of workers worldwide.

Education underpins all social progress. If the general education level worldwide can be improved in a profound and scalable way, global poverty can be dealt with, and the general standard of living for all can be vastly improved. The technology is here today to revolutionize education and training. However, the opportunity and vision must be made real now. The status quo in education and training suits a lot of people who are less interested in making sure this potential is realized, and its benefits are as widely spread as possible. It is part of Alison’s mission to drive forward the opportunity of new technology and business systems to provide free education and training in every subject.

Solution and Impact

Alison has developed a simple and sustainable way of providing free learning and certification to all on any subject for free. It applies a “freemium” business model with revenues from advertising and premium services. A highly equitable aspect of this model is that when someone clicks on an advert while studying accounting in Yemen, the net income to Alison is zero. When an American in California clicks on an advert however, he or she pays for the next hundred students in Yemen – and so on. Publishers with Alison still get paid via revenue sharing. This innovative business model is highly scalable and self-funding.

Alison has twenty-one million registered learners online, four million graduates and 3,500 courses. On its website, it has over 10,000 testimonials from learners all over the world saying thank you for the positive impact it has made on their lives, in areas such as employment, college placement, and personal development. 

Future Developments

For the coming years, Alison plans to:

1. Launch a feature-set enable its website to be translated into every language worldwide using crowdsourcing. (It has 3,000 registered volunteers worldwide.)
2. Enable any subject-matter expert to self-publish their content online for free.
3. Work with governments to align content resources efficiently to national standards so populations can have a complete education and training opportunity – from grade school through high school to the workplace.

With regards to the above-mentioned steps 1 and 2, Alison already has one of the world’s largest and busiest learning platforms upon which to build this additional functionality and know-how. It needs more programming resource to speed up the process, but otherwise, is well placed to implement. With regards to step 3, Alison is currently working with the Irish Department of Education to align resources with the Irish Curriculum for all STEM subjects. Once this task is completed for Ireland, it will introduce the same framework across North America, the UK, and MENA.

May 26, 2013 (last update 11-28-2023)