From its website

ALISON* is the world’s leading free online learning resource for basic and essential workplace skills. … Through the ALISON learning platform we can assist people around the world in educating themselves, thereby creating a more equitable and sustainable global society.

We believe that all certifiable or standards-based learning for every subject can be made available for free online. We also believe that Article 26 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free…” will, through ALISON, become a reality.

* ALISON stands for “Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online”.


ALISON started in 2007 in the UK.  Information Week reportedly called it “the original MOOC.”  (MOOC–Massive Open Online Course)

It offers courses in major groupings including Business and Enterprise Skills; Financial and Economic Literacy; Health Literacy; Digital Literacy and IT Skills; Personal Development and Soft Skills; as well as Language and Diploma courses.  The courses are FREE (but larded with advertisements and time for them to load and clear before you can get to your learning).

After completing the registration, I (Doris) completed an introductory module on Adobe Connect, the same-time meeting application.  It took 40 minutes to complete the module and do the assessment.   The video lecture, offered by a teacher in Great Britain with his own online teaching studio, was clear but might have been better if he had had participants in the room to interact with.  The follow-up assessment was a standard read the question, click on the answer, with immediate feedback on right/incorrect choices.  There could be variations on course teaching methods because there are many different instructors and topics.

ALISON can be used to introduce you to topics via the short modules.  If you like them and are learning, then you could continue with ALISON offerings or one of the many fee-based training/learning options advertised on the same page with ALISON course material.  Do check to see when the ALISON course was launched because it may be outdated.  Second, the advertising distractions mentioned earlier, can be eliminated entirely for a 50Euro annual subscription or reduced to popups between modules for 15Euros a year.    But I would only pay the subscription if I were absolutely sure that ALISON would give me exactly what I wanted.  Why pay a fee when there are many heavy-weight university-based MOOCs that  are free of cost and advertising from the get-go?



Udemy offers the opportunity for experts to craft, sell, and deliver online courses from the Udemy home platform and for learners to take them!  Courses range in topic, price, length, etc.

On the front page alone, its top 20 courses (as indicated by the number of students who have taken or are taking the courses and # of positive reviews) range from a $9 course (46 minutes–12 lectures) on Making PDFs Interactive from InDesign by Paul Cracknell, a  UK expatriate now residing in New Zealand to a course on Making iPhone and iPad Apps  Without Any Programming (185  lectures and 10.5 hours of content) by John Bura  for $497.  A different kind of course also on the front page is Discover The 1 Thing You Were Born To Do In 5 Easy Steps! by Steve Olsher ($49).  Udemy even offers yoga courses and American Accent Training for IT Professionals.


From its website

Codecademy is a team of hackers working hard to build a better way for anyone to teach, and learn, how to code. We’re determined to succeed in realizing our mission to turn a world of tech consumers into one of empowered builders.


The site offers modules or tracks to help people learn Javascript, Web Fundamentals, Python, Ruby, jQuery, Projects, and APIs. The website also mirrors the spirit behind the Women’s Learning Studio in three key ways.  It offers the opportunity for learners to build projects such as interactive websites, games, and applications TOGETHER.  Learning occurs in a fun, safe community setting for learners at all levels of accomplishment to stay MOTIVATED.  Learning progress is encouraged with points and badges that can lead to RECOGNITION onsite that may be used by the learner to rebrand himself/herself for potential employers, clients, and admission officers in other venues.

Coding skill  is becoming increasingly important as people yearn for or need their own domains online and must have the DIY skills to make the spaces affordable and sustainable.  Or to explain to a contractor more of what the design should be for a website, application, or game. For instance, knowing basic coding commands was an issue for Studio founders in setting up and maintaining this website.  Maybe one doesn’t need the skill  level of a Mark Zuckerman or Bill Gates as discussed in this blog post and video but having some HTML fundamentals can help make someone more self-reliant and better able to understand the language and craft behind websites and applications.  Additionally, knowing how to code “comes at a time tech executives warn of a new digital divide emerging between job-seekers who possess programming skills and those who do not.”  In short, Codecademy models the spirit of online learning to build your personal or professional portfolio.

Stanford Online/Stanford University


Stanford Online has many well-respected courses, lecture videos, and other short-term learning opportunities available to the public FREE.  Its online partners in learning are Coursera and Class2Go.  This website presents a wide range of options such as Stanford iTunes, Stanford on YouTube, Stanford Center for Professional Development, and Stanford eCorner.  The Entrepreneurship Corner contains more than 2,000 FREE videos and podcasts featuring entrepreneurship and innovation thought leaders.

Their description of one course on databases below offers history and context for the course.

“Introduction to Databases” had a very successful public offering in fall 2011, as one of Stanford’s inaugural three massive open online courses. Since then, the course materials have been improved and expanded, and we’re excited to be launching a second public offering of the course in winter 2013. The course includes video lectures and demos with in-video quizzes to check understanding, in-depth standalone quizzes, a wide variety of automatically-checked interactive programming exercises, midterm and final exams, a discussion forum, optional additional exercises with solutions, and pointers to readings and resources. Taught by Professor Jennifer Widom, the curriculum draws from Stanford’s popular Introduction to Databases course.