Alison: A social- enterprise committed to delivering free education to empower people across the globe
Today, e-learning platforms have revolutionized the education sector with the aid of newer methodologies and latest technological trends. Undeniably, such platforms have effectively improvised the standards of education across the industry. Online learning portal also comes in handy by allowing easy accessibility to people residing in remote areas. It has encouraged the learners to break all the social and physical barriers to obtain a high-quality education, alongside opening the door to tremendous opportunities.
Numerous educational institutions have now started free online courses to resonate with ‘free education to all’ concept. By fostering a great level of comfort, flexibility, scalability and consistency to the learners, such online courses are modifying the norms of learning by eradicating the need to be in the classroom itself. As the internet is surging with a vast amount of knowledge, online learning has become a preferred choice among scholars allowing less monetary investment and a better outcome.
Many service providers are queuing up to add value to the education sector by acknowledging thriving opportunities in the domain. But, some enterprises are making their way by being relevant to the notion of free education while ensuring quality services at the same time. Alison is one such exemplary e-learning portals that are empowering people with the power of education.
An overlay of the Company
With an extraordinary mission to be a catalyst of social change by offering costless learning platforms, Alison Group was established by a visionary business leader- Mike Feerick. His brainchild ensured the formulation of a one-of-a-kind online learning platform- Alison, that has emerged out as one of the world’s first and largest free learning platforms for education and skills training. As the Founder of this socially-oriented Company, Mike has showcased his unequivocal entrepreneurial competence.
Alison Group is a for-profit social enterprise that strives to make education accessible to everyone from every corner across the globe. Keeping abreast of the latest technology, it is unfurling the flag of roaring success by being relevant as well as ethical to its exclusive vision. The dedicated team at Alison aspires to offer opportunity, prosperity and equality to everyone.
Mike’s thought leadership has allowed this e-learning portal to stand on a distinct pedestal in the respective industry. As the Founder, he ensures to raise the bars of service standards by setting benchmarks via the matchless virtual portal. With the help of Alison, a free-to-use online platform, the Group has envisioned adding extensive value for managers, small-business owners, HRs, and those who are liable for training and development of people. It grants users with enhanced learning efficiency, increased productivity and a digital tool to track the development of core skills, across different teams.
To neutralize the gap in the education industry, Alison serves as an effective and reliable solution. Catering to over 17 million learners across the globe, it has facilitated a gamut of basic training and workplace skills via its 2000+ free online courses. It offers psychometric testing that includes a free workplace personality assessment with verbal reasoning, numeracy and abstract reasoning test, a free Learning Management System to supervise the group training.
Unveiling the light bulb moment
Incorporated in the year 2007, Alison began its voyage in the educational sector. The key driver that inspired Mike to offer costless education was Article-26 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Resolution asserting “Education will be free”. His friend cum mentor, Chuck Feeney who is an Irish-American Business Philanthropist, played a pivotal role in guiding Mike towards social entrepreneurship. As a visionary, he always believed that everyone has the right to attain an education that has the power to transform the world into a better place.
In 2000, Mike started the precursor to Alison, a sub-contracting e-learning business for Microsoft called Advance Learning. After realizing the possibilities of offering free education to all, he started Alison- an avenue to increase employability for all.
Meet the man behind Alison
Mike Feerick is the Founder and CEO of Alison Group. He was born in New York and brought up in Limerick and Galway, Ireland. After attaining his graduation degree, he pursued an internship in philanthropy. Being associated with Chuck Feeney, he became keenly interested in social entrepreneurship and realised that to deal with any social issue a sustainable business model can be proved an impeccable tool. Later, he attained his MBA from Harvard University.
The Founder of Alison Group considers higher education as a declining industry and that, it needs to be restructured from the core. He questions the value of degrees nowadays and believes that employers care little about them. The phenomenal Leader affirms that all costs in education must be driven towards zero for society to enjoy the promise of equality and equal access that technology offers.
Mike is an Ashoka Fellow, UNESCO (2010) and WISE Award winner (2013). He is also Founder and Chairman of Ireland’s National Diaspora Programme, Ireland Reaching Out. Before starting Alison, he served as the Acting Managing Director of Interactive Investor International and has also held with Bertelsmann Music Group. He previously owned the franchise rights to JFAX Ireland and is the Founder and former CEO of Yac.com, a web-based unified messaging telecoms provider.
Redefining the education landscape
Alison is transforming the education landscape by increasing employability and skillset for people via its free courses at certificate, diploma and learning path levels. There is a total of 9 cardinal topics in which all these courses have been divided into- Technology, Language, Science, Health, Humanities, Business, Math, Marketing and Lifestyle. Its increasing number of courses will soon hit the target of 3000, in the forthcoming months.
It allows the subject- matters experts to share their exquisite knowledge and earn profit through advertisements. To ensure quality in the prepared content, prospective publishers are granted with a short – training session on how to engage with the platform in a more efficient way.
At Alison, an appointed manager supervises all the progress and performance of teams with variable sizes. Its Learning Management System has been inclined towards empowering the teams with a broad spectrum of courses.
Moreover, the exclusive e-learning medium offers a free workplace personality assessment that targets to hone a person’s interpersonal skills, personal drive, work styles and learning styles. It effectively unveils characteristics as an employee and colleague, alongside highlighting the core strength and weaknesses. The portal offers some personalized self-development tips and professional development courses to help users outline specific career objectives.
Ensuring an edge over its peers
At Alison, automation is the magic key that has allowed it to open the door to howling success with ease. But, in this ever-evolving world of education, latest courses need to be cross-checked thoroughly to assure matchless quality. This is what makes them stand out from the rest. Apart from this, its Management pays intense heed to the feedback from the user’s end. In case any hidden error is reported from their side, the escalation team quickly resolves the issue that allows them to ensure the quality of the published content.
Moreover, many other aspects testify Alison’s competitive advantage in the relevant domain. As an integrated service provider, it offers a broad spectrum of free learning material and helps a learner to graduate after passing the free of cost assessments. With its vocational training program, it strives to hone the professional skills within people to enhance employability.
Research and Development
For escalating the growth and keeping abreast of market trends, R&D is the crux and Team Alison pays proper heed to it. They ensure to invest around 30% of their turnover in this arena annually. It is crucial to perceive R&D as the first step to be technically innovative. Resonating with it, Alison has attempted to drive all costs of education to zero with the help of special automation and AI. They believe that with the help of R&D delivering more quality services at fewer expenses, can become a cakewalk. In this respect, Mike elucidates, “ R&D can allow us to get the cost out of the old system of expensive traditional education – and that means taking out the need for so many people and streamlining systems and processes.”
About the work culture
Alison believes in nurturing a flexible work culture for its workforce. Each team member goes for the jugular to develop an innovative solution to take this platform to greater heights. They ensure to put collaborative efforts to chase the vision proposed by the Founder with their expertise, experience and out-of-the-box strategies. Management ensures to infuse the work ecosystem with optimism and motivation to get the best out of their employees.
Contribution to combat the COVID-19 crisis
The global pandemic shook the world to its core while disrupting human life by enforcing unprecedented adversities. We are aware of the behemoth impact COVID-19 crisis has imposed on our lives. As a response to this scenario, Alison published –‘The Coronavirus: What You Need to Know’ course.
Developed and published in February 2020, this free online course enlightened a significant portion of the world population regarding this fatal virus. They ensured to spread the information on this deadly virus across its huge learner-base, by publishing the content in 60+ languages- including 20+ European languages.
Surprisingly, the platform witnessed a record-breaking surge of around 100,000 learners signing up for the course in a single day. By the end of September, approximately 350,000 learners completed the course.
Revealing the aspects covered in this offering, Mike elucidates, “The learning outcomes are covered in two modules and a course assessment. Module one ensures to cover Background, Symptoms and Transmission of the virus while also focusing on Treatment, Recent Developments, and International Response.
The second module focuses on Advice for the Public and deals with how to protect yourself and others from being infected, guidelines for food safety, wet markets, and international travel.
The course assessment has a duration of 30 minutes to one hour. To pass this test, a learner should score at least 80%. To encourage knowledge, awareness and understanding about the virus and its threat, Alison has availed a costless PDF Certification course across the globe.”
Feathers in the cap
While ensuring synergy with the latest market trends, Alison has been accredited with multiple awards and accolades. For its behemoth contribution in transforming the education landscape, this exclusive portal has received ‘Honourable Mention Award in Information and Communications Technology’ at the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize in Paris in 2010.
Alison has been ranked one among the six winners at the ‘World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE)’ awards in 2013.
Moreover, the Founder has also bagged ‘Arthur Guinness Fund award in 2012’ for Social Entrepreneurship for organising the Irish diaspora via Ireland Reaching Out programme that he founded in 2009.
Revealing the future outlooks
Driven by its exclusive vision, Alison foresees a bright and blazing future ahead. Committed to ensuring free- quality education to people, it will soon relaunch smartphone applications for Android as well as IOS, in the upcoming months. Apart from that, for the future, they have planned to enhance the number of courses to expand their horizons. To propel the growth in the forthcoming years, they will offer ‘Open Publishing’ to allure subject experts to earn income while publishing their content on the portal.
Words of wisdom from the Founder’s desk
“I would advise budding entrepreneurs to follow their heart. If you are passionate about something and you have an innovative idea, follow it and don’t let anything stop you. If you’re an entrepreneur by heart, this will come naturally.
There is always a way to work through the issues that you will encounter while chasing your goals. After all, it is the journey that is important, not the destination! And always remember that hard- work and discipline are prerequisites to success.
Be an avid learner! Set time aside to upskill and broaden your knowledge. With a plethora of free resources available online, you can access the world of knowledge at your fingertips. Keep up with your curiosity as that will feed your imagination – the greatest power of the human brain.
Be self-confident and trust your instincts. Don’t follow someone’s advice just because you think they are more experienced as compared to you. Whenever I listened to someone whose views were different from mine, I made a bad decision. You won’t always have the right answer, but when your gut tells you to make a decision, follow it.” Mike Feerick – The Founder & CEO