A for-profit social enterprise model for e-learning
As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader of the E-Learning Curve Blog I’m always pleased to highlight e-learning initiatives and innovations from Ireland particularly now, when Ireland is viewed as the “sick man of Europe” because of our financial woes.
However, government incompetence in the management of the economy aside, Ireland has a vibrant technology and knowledge-based industrial economy. We excel in e-learning – I guess most people in the industry have heard of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), SmartForce and Electric Paper, for example. These large companies notwithstanding, there are over fifty ‘other’ e-learning development houses in the country. Not bad for a country with a population of under 5 million people.
One of those ‘other’ organisations is called ALISON, a for-profit social enterprise based in Galway on the west coast of the country. According to their website, ALISON are a
resourceful and determined multi-national team of socially-aware technologists, educationalists and marketers who understand that today, we have the opportunity to make universal education free to access via the Web.
ALISON consider that they have a “sustainable and scalable business model to make education free online” with a focus on basic workplace skills. Since their launch in April 2007, they have developed relationships with some of the largest and most prestigious institutions involved in promoting education and learning. Covering topics as diverse as:
Improving Your English Writing SkillsMicrosoft Digital Literacy – Productivity ProgramsTouch Typing Skills – Learn to TypeWeb Page Development with HTML, CSS and Dreamweaver
ALISON provide a range of courses high-quality courses that are free (to use) for individual learners. One recently-launched course is a curriculum on Health and Safety Education in Ireland.
Speaking at the demonstration and launch by the Health and Safety Authority of a new suite of e-learning courses for the education sector, the Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Innovation said that the initiative had “great potential for education and awareness-raising in the area of workplace safety and health.”
He also identified its attraction for learners as a cost and time-saving platform for learning and urged the HSA to consider the wider future potential of such an initiative.
Jim Lyons, Chairman of the Health and Safety Authority said at the launch,
We have recognised the need for safety and health training in the education sector and by developing a learning tool that is interactive, effective and freely available we can reach people at all levels.
Mr Lyons went on to say
It’s a first for [the HSA] and for those it is aimed at; it means that we can reach widely with our message and it recognises that learners at all levels benefit from the flexibility of a system which has twenty four / seven access and is matched to their own required pace.
Each course module has been designed so that it can be easily updated to reflect changes in legislation and practices. Learners can use the courseware to demonstrate their understanding of safety and health concepts and facts by completing end of lesson assessments in an interactive format.
The five modules can be accessed through the Authority’s website and through www.alison.com. The course covers the following topics:
Managing Safety and Health in SchoolsSafety and Health in Science LabsSafety and Health in Construction
In my view, ALISON’s business model potentially represents an approach to successfully running an e-learning organisation – and to educate a broad range of people – in tough times.
PS – returning to the topic of KM soon!
November 02 2010 03:00 pm | e-learning