ALISON Learning Reaches 3M Users

ALISON Learning Reaches 3M Users

BIGGEST MOOC YOU DON'T KNOW: In spite of all the hoopla around MOOCs, there's the slightly unnerving fact that a whopping 83 percent of people taking MOOcs have a two- or four-year degree (according to researchers at the University of Penn). 

Not so for ALISON, a handy acronym for "Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online," a program based in Ireland that's been offering classes since 2007. Last week, ALISON passed the 3 million registered user mark. To put that in context, Coursera has 6.6 million registered users, Udacity (which is emphasizing math, science and engineering programs) has 1.1 million users, and Udemy--which doesn't position itself as MOOC but offers courses--is at about 2 million users. 

ALISON's classes are free for all students. The company pays its bills in part through advertising.  

Course subjects focus on brass tack-subjects that many people need to do or get jobs. "The highest registrations are Business and English Courses such as Basic English Grammar, Project Management, Human Resources, Financial Accounting, Workstation Ergonomics, and Customer Service," writes founder Mike Feerick. 

ALISON does not affiliate with any universities. Anyone can teach a course; many organizations, including software companies, offer programs through ALISON. Production quality can be a bit barebones. Those who complete the programs can buy an official certificate (less than $50 US) which carries ALISON's own imprimatur. 

For many, that's enough. Most people who take ALISON courses are far away from Ivy League institutions. "We have 2.5 million learners outside the USA," Feerick notes, which he reckons makes ALISON "probably the largest MOOC outside of the USA right now." Notable hotspots for ALISON users include Ireland (where ALISON is based), India and Indonesia. 

Users in those countries may not generate much ad revenue; it's the ads show to US users that help pay the bills. 

Feerick is proud of ALISON's "completions" or "pass rates, particularly for its most specialized classes such as  Workplace Safety and Health (28%), Managing Safety & Health in Schools (33%), Working with Students with Special Educational Needs (28%), and many areas of Nursing Studies (25%+). Finding out just how many ALISON alum find jobs is something that the company is still a work in progress. "We have a lot of anecdotal evidence," Feerick writes, "but it's well time to get more clinical."

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