Insights and Perspectives

Insights and Perspectives


Read the latest from Geographic Solutions.

By Dr. Tim Potenz

With more than 13 million users worldwide enrolled in thousands of free online courses, has transformed into an industry-leading provider of online education and job skills training. On a global scale, their educational impact has earned them numerous awards from organizations and initiatives such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Economic Forum, and the World Innovation Summit for Education.

In 2007, Alison was launched by founder Mike Feerick, an early pioneer of the Massive Open Online Courseware (MOOC) movement. His vision is responsible for the success of more than 2 million graduates worldwide, with 175 thousand new learners signing up every month.

An Educational Cornerstone

In the United States, hundreds of workforce agency administrators have used to develop suites of freely-accessible online courses, forming educational cornerstones key to federally-funded government programs.

When parents or guardians face periods of transition, sometimes due to job loss, programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP E&T;) and the Florida-centric Welfare Transition Program (WTP) offer needed assistance to qualified participants. This form of help can include time-limited financial assistance for basic needs such as food, clothing, and housing, but also includes transitional services to help families become independent. A significant part of these transitory services include GED prep courses, job training and interview practice, vocational training, classes in basic English, and job retention services.

“In terms of workforce advantages, is building inroads in several distinct areas,” says Dan Fitzgerald, a Corporate Workforce Trainer at Geographic Solutions. “It fills the training-related gaps for programs like SNAP E&T; and TANF, offering low-cost alternatives for program participants.

Impacting Training Completion Rates

For CareerSource, Florida’s statewide network of workforce development boards and career centers, program managers have been integrating Alison’s free learning resources into their workforce programs since 2009. Because Alison’s courses are self paced and time flexible, registered learners can level up their skills anywhere, and at any time. This helps workforce agency administrators spend less resources on scheduling, structuring, and monitoring, and more time on their actual training. Devoting more attention to these critical areas has made a significant impact on training completion rates. And, with Alison’s data-rich user statistics, admins can immediately see how much time a job seeker has spent on training.

A newer feature in Alison’s arsenal is the Career Guide, which ushers job seekers towards the right courses, catered towards specific career paths. These courses are laid out on different skill levels, and learners are guided through each course appropriately. The time needed to structure training is therefore taken on by experts, which allows more job seekers to get the most out of their activity, helping them stick with the program.

Expanding Job Ready Initiatives

Looking towards 2020 and beyond, Alison plans to expand their Job-Ready initiatives to workforce-industry professionals striving to create their own suite of free online courses and certifications. You can hear more about essential free learning at the 2019 Workforce Technology Conference.

About the Author: Dr. Tim Potenz is the Editor at, where he's responsible for the Careers section of the platform.

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