Michael Feerick

Ashoka Fellow
Galway, Ireland
Fellow Since 2010


This profile was prepared when Michael Feerick was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Top quality, peer-reviewed online education and skills training can be provided for free. Mike’s ALISON program offers free resources to “up-skilling” workers in everything from English to IT competency online. His work breaks down the barriers of expensive curriculum and limited access to educational resources, and offers verified, quality controlled tools with teacher groups, forums, and testing functions—built on a sustainable, self-funding business model.

Mike’s work with ALISON focuses on competence rather than credential. It offers “generic” versions of well-known certificate programs such as the European Computer Driving License. Quality reputation is bolstered through “flash tests,” quick 30-question overviews of course material which students, teachers, and potential employers can use to gauge current mastery and gain alternative certification—similar to the typing tests of a past era.

Community college is an underfunded and underdeveloped educational resource—Mike is offering the first freely accessible online community college, rather than an online university. There are many resources that offer free trials to computer literacy and other training programs, but Mike’s alternative credential model is unique in that it offers a completely free full set of tutorials and fully-fleshed curricula created partially through open source methods, peer-reviewed to offer a markedly high level of quality.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person


Since 2010, ALISON has grown from 400,000 to 5 million users in 2015.

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