What is an Online Course? | Definition, Meaning & Advantages | Alison
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What is an Online Course?

What is the definition of an online course? Simply put, an online course is any web-based class that can be viewed on a computer, tablet or mobile device. Alison is one of the world’s largest platforms for free online courses , allowing you to access instruction and materials wherever and whenever it works best for you.

What is the Purpose of Online Courses?

Alison was founded in 2007 with the mission of improving equality and access to education and skills training. We believe that, through education, everyone has the power to change their lives - and ultimately the world - for the better.

Over the past 13 years, 17 million learners have taken our free online courses for a variety of reasons. Some want to jump start a new career or up-skill in their current job. Others are seeking supplemental academic training. And still others simply wish to learn valuable skills to enhance their daily life.

Whatever your goal, Alison’s online courses offer the freedom to learn and the tools to succeed.

What Makes a Good Online Course?

In this interconnected world, online course offerings can vary greatly in terms of quality. Alison is proud to offer access to education that is both time- and cost-effective for learners.

Furthermore, we believe that good online courses provide the following:

  • Clearly defined learning objectives
  • Content that is well-sequenced and paced for self-directed learners
  • High-quality, engaging instruction, delivered by subject matter experts
  • Well-deployed technology, including appropriate materials and apps
  • Easy-to-access online support

Every day, we strive to provide high-quality educational and skill-training options that meet the needs of our learners across the globe.

Advantages of Taking an Online Course

Alison believes that education has the power to break through boundaries and transform lives. As a result, we built our platform upon the idea that education should be accessible, flexible and free.

There are a number of advantages to taking an online course. Our web-based delivery system means that you can explore course offerings from a place and at a pace that is convenient for you. All courses are absolutely free, and upon completion, you can download an official certificate or diploma as proof of your achievement, depending upon the course or learning path you choose. Showcase your certificate or diploma to schools or employers and stand out above the competition.

What to Expect from an Online Course

Once you enroll with Alison, you have access to thousands of online courses, as well as tools to help you refine your search by subject matter and degree of difficulty.

While the time commitment for each individual course varies, we offer the following general guidelines:

  • Certificate courses - focus on one distinct topic, average duration of two to three hours
  • Diploma courses - more comprehensive subject area study, average duration of eight to 10 hours
  • Learning paths - more intensive and progressive subject studies, average duration of 18 to 20 hours

All of our online courses are self paced and self directed. You need only access to a device (computer, tablet or mobile phone), an internet connection and a desire to learn.

Types of Online Courses at Alison

Alison offers over 2,500 free online courses to meet the diverse needs of our learners.

These classes fall into three study areas: workplace, academic and personal development. Within each area, courses are further broken down into sectors and levels, allowing you to narrow your focus and choose the right one based on your goals.

Courses are offered in nine subjects:

  • Technology
  • Language
  • Science
  • Health
  • Humanities
  • Business
  • Math
  • Marketing
  • Lifestyle

All of our courses are provided free to learners worldwide. You also have the option of obtaining an official certificate or diploma. Register here for a free Alison account to start learning today.

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