April 24, 2014

The world’s largest supplier of free online learning?

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Who do you think is the largest supplier of free online learning? MIT? Stanford? Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learn Initiative? iTunesU? The UK’s OpenLearn? The Khan Academy? The University of the People?

Well, what about ALISON? Who, you may ask, is ALISON? ALISON.com is ‘the world’s leading free online learning resource for basic and essential workplace skills. ALISON provides …. interactive multimedia courseware for certification and standards-based learning.

Alison celebates its 5th birthday this week, and claims to have one million registered learners spread across nearly 200 countries worldwide. Although only started in 2007, ALISON graduated over 50,000 people in Certificate and Diploma courses in 2011.

Alison stands for ”Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online”. It is based in Ireland and uses mainly a mix of advertising and sponsored programs from partners and publishers to enable students to take the courses free of charge.

I’d be interested in hearing from people with experience of studying with Alison.

Comments

  1. Alison is a great site and I know of many learners that have been able to take advantage of their free educational content. I would like to also point out that GCFLearnFree.org is a large provider of free online learning.

    As a staff member of the GCFLearnFree.org, I’m completely biased! However, the facts do speak for themselves. We also have over a million registered learners at 1,152,817 but we stopped requiring visitors to register for an account in Summer 2010 so we’ve obviously seen a drop in registered learners. This has only allowed us to serve even more people however! In 2011 alone, we had over 6 million visitors from every country except North Korea and served over 2 million (served means learners consumed content in some way, whether it was by reading a lesson, viewing a video tutorial, or playing an interactive game). Since we began our online classes in 2002, we have awarded over 67,000 CEUs.

    We are able to do this because we are a program of Goodwill Industries of Eastern North Carolina; revenue from our retail stores 100% fund this program. We do not rely on ANY government funding, grants, donations or online advertising. I would wager that we are one of the larger online learning sites available that is completely free and free of all advertising.

  2. Tony, just for the record, Yacapaca has 2.4M registered students and 90,000 registered teachers. And it’s free.

    • Richard says:

      @IG-S: Whilst yacapaca might have all those things, Tony’s question was pitched at more advanced learning in higher education / further education. Therefore, one might say ALISON is more of a further education resource and really is no competition for the likes of MIT, Stanford, CM or even OU.
      All the best!

  3. Richard says:

    Tony – as an experienced learner (in age and qualifications (MArch, MA, ProfQual)) I’ve completed one certificate in Sustainable Development and I’m currently undertaking their Diploma course in Environmental Science in advance of a career change into Sustainable Development.

    With both course materials provided by the Open University through their OpenLearn project, I’m finding the content quality is good/very good and really interesting, the material presentation/delivery method good (albeit in Flash so I need the Puffin browser on my iPad) and the overall course administration and delivery outstanding, with continuous progress updates and a straightforward syllabus plan.

    I’ve not chosen to say the content is outstanding, as it’s pitched at a post-high school level, which I have found lacking in some detail. That said, the more detail it has, the longer it will take to get through, and they are introductory courses not advanced level Harvard. And they are free.

    If I were to nit pick, I would recommend some links to investigate key issues further, the inclusion of higher-quality graphics and diagrams, and inclusion of some video content (albeit several of the courses are delivered by video/interactive presentations).

    Overall, a good spread of topics and definitely a strong recommendation for general interest or knowledge supplementation, but I wouldn’t suggest trying to get a job solely off the back of the certificate courses.

    Best of luck to everyone!

    • Tony Bates says:

      Many thanks, Richard. great to have your feedback and if others have experience in using in using OERs or studying with organizations using OERs I’d like to hear from you.

  4. Billings says:

    I have enrolled in the ALISON Dip. Social Media Marketing and I must say I am impressed with the attention to detail and quality of delivery by the chosen instructors. I already have a BA degree in Geography & Resource Development but decided to charter a career path in online marketing particular social media marketing. The lessons I got at alison enabled me to set up my blog and personal business (http://www.sparkssocialmedia.com) strictly from following the lessons plus some personal research. I must say overall, it is an excellent resource as far as my course area is concerned and I will highly recommend it to anyone who has interest in personal development. I intend to start their Dip. Project Management once i’m done with the current one. My 2 cents…:)

  5. Mike Bowers says:

    Hi all, just came across this blog…very interesting comments…what I’m keen to clarify is the actual accreditation of these certificates and diplomas. So far, all I’ve found is that there is reference to NQF level equivalents, but no actual acrreditation references. In my mind this begs the question…..are these certificates and diplomas recognised ? I have an MBA and have enrolled for the Dip in Project Management with a view to supplementing my resume….I hope it’s not in vain…

    • Tony Bates says:

      No sure I can help with this, Mike. I don’t think Alison offers credits itself, but the original providers of the online materials, so the accreditation is as strong or as weak as the offering institution. It’s then up to an employer to decide the value of the certificate. If you are already employed by a medium to large organization the HR department might be able to tell you whether the employer will recognize the qualification.

      Anyone else want to comment on this?

    • Mic says:

      According to a paragraph on this page http://alison.com/knowledgebase/entry/104/ Alison is not accredited. I’ve pasted it here:

      “In an effort to keep programme costs down and to retain the current motivational-based format of ALISON, ALISON has not sought to be, nor been, approved by the US DOE, CHEA or DETC provider and does not represent itself to be an “accredited” programme of any of these organisations.”

  6. Phil says:

    I’ve found it very much depends on the publisher as to the quality of the materials. Having studied a business degree at the Open University and having covered a lot of the HRM theory therin, I found that the Open Learn published Diploma of Human Resources was excellent and quite faithful to the original materials (albeit in a more easily digested format). The same can’t be said for many of those courses I’ve had a dabble with that are produced by other publishers. Consequently, the quality of the Open Learn materials plus the fact that they are produced by a recognised UK academic body means that I now choose to study with this one publisher alone – and get a great deal from it too.

  7. abdellfattah says:

    is Alison’s Certificates recognized worldwide???? or it is only bragging

    Thank you all

    • Tony Bates says:

      Hi, Abdelifattah
      I doubt if any institution’s programs are recognized worldwide. Most countries have their own accreditation bodies, often managed or controlled by the government, and some are (perhaps rightly) very suspicious of foreign programs, either on grounds of academic quality or in terms of ‘cultural appropriateness’.
      This probably doesn’t matter unless you want to transfer credits from a foreign program into a national qualification. For instance, if you want to learn how to use an Excel spreadsheet for work purposes, one of Alison’s courses will be sufficient. However, if you want to use that recognized competence for entry to a local college, it might not be accepted, and you’d have to learn all over again (or just skip those classes).
      Hope that helps
      Regards.

  8. Dane says:

    Hi Tony and all

    I have come across your blog in my quest to find the best free online course institution to bulk up my CV. I must thank Richard for his post as I feel this is what answers our general concerns the best and has motivated me to pursue this route.

    An institution like ALISON acts as a means to further ones educational knowledge, where it is up to you to prove what you have learned within a working environment. I think a perfect CV “booster” that would get the attention of any employer when you have a grounded CV already. It reflects a positive, constant and balanced attitude towards your overall working ethos. Knowledge is Power! Why stop when you have the opportunity at completing a free online course in your own time?

    Well- I am off to embark on the Sustainable Development course- would like to find out though is anyone knows how much it is to get the certificate released (if this is even the case?)

    Thank you again and all the best

  9. Jenny says:

    I have completed this online course of Diploma in Customer service within two days (maximum 3 hours, the assessment was just a joke to be honest) just by reading the material. I knew that you have to pay for the certificate because I did some research about it but I was shocked that I have to pay 100 Euros for the diploma!!! 100 euros? Are you kidding? For this much money I can go and get a proper 3 days course and get a diploma at the end that is accreditated! The reason I did this course is that I wanted to enhance my resume (for free or picayune amount) a bit as I am working as a recepcionist/ security officer on a corporate site. This is why they do not tell you in advance how much your certificate/diploma will cost. You have to complete all of the modules of the selected course then when it is done you have to face with these unfairly sky-high prices for a piece of paper that is not even accreditated….You will be better off to get a proper course. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME!

    • Marcus says:

      Jenny,
      The certificate and diploma is not compulsory and comes as an extra if you want it. It’s free to use all their learning materials and to complete and ‘certify’ in the courses, the only cost is, as you say, the piece of paper which many people may not even want if they are learning to gain a skill for professional purposes. Granted these may not be aligned directly with government bodies at this stage, but they do provide free skills training which can enable people to become task competent pretty quickly. I took their Adobe Photoshop course and completed it, I had no need of the parchment so didn’t shell out for it but the things I learned have been very useful and have enabled me to do much better in what I do. I already have a BA and an M.Phil from ‘conventional’ universities. Alison must have to cover their costs somehow and charging people for diplomas seems fair enough. Trinity College Dublin charged me several hundred for my parchments even after registration fees and graduation fees. It’s par for the course.
      Regards,
      Marcus

  10. Bemrick says:

    Thanks to all
    true alison is the largest offering free online couse but the problems is that their Dip,coyrse are short compared to other universities or college
    is their Dip.recognised by any government or any development county?

  11. Alexis says:

    So if you take a course and pass it what does that mean what do you do from there? Does it credit you or how does it exactly work?

    • Tony Bates says:

      Hi, Alexis

      In most cases it won’t count as a credit towards a degree but employers may be willing to recognize it if the course comes from one of their approved educational suppliers. However, you should check with Alison itself about any particular course you are interested in.

  12. sanjay singh says:

    sir i am indian my name is sanjay sigh when i read in book that there is now no problem for the poor people who has desired to learn and earn for education degree so i am telling you i want degree one year course in health and safety diploma . do you know in india many people who has take graduate and post graduate degree is not able to speak on e sentence in english.i had hobby to read but due to povetry i could not success in my life but privately in library or by other material i continue reading and learn because it was my hobby i want certificate so that i could utilise to anywhere. a lot of thank to those who think free online degree for globe .i wish success future to all personnel who has attached for this solemn work.

    • Tony Bates says:

      Hi, Sanjay
      Thanks for this. It’s good to hear from someone who is doing his best in your circumstances to get higher education. One place you could try is the Indira Gandhi National Open University (http://www.ignou.ac.in/), based in Delhi. Several states in India also have their own open university. I don’t know if they offer programs in health and safety but they probably do. IGNOU has some agreements with other countries that enable their degrees or certificates to be recognized outside India. Another organization you could try is the OERu (http://oeru.org/), which is an international consortium that aims to ensure that qualifications gained from one partner institution will be recognized by all the other institutions. However, it has only recently been set up and doesn’t have many courses yet. If other readers can suggest programs for Sanjay (health and safety, internationally transferable, online and open.), please do so.
      However, despite all the open education developments, it is still exceedingly difficult to get qualifications in higher education that will transfer across national borders, especially if they are offered by distance or online learning. Things are changing but not fast enough.
      In the meantime, good luck with your studies.

  13. EKI says:

    How can i know if Alison is sccredited. due to finacial problem in my home country I couldn’t finish my education and

    fortunately I found Alison . can I USE IT TO GO TO THE UNIVERSITY?

    • Tony Bates says:

      Hi, EKI

      Unfortunately, Alison does not offer qualifications itself. It enables you to access programs from other suppliers of courses. In some cases, an institution may allow you to use a certificate from Alison towards a qualification so that instead of having to take all their courses, you can be given credit for the courses you have taken through Alison, but not many institutions allow this.

      You should contact Alison directly for more information.

      In the meantime good luck with your studies

      best regards

  14. rae says:

    Are any of the completed diplomas worth putting on your CV?

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