ALISON— A Trove of 400 Free Online Job Training Courses

ALISON— A Trove of 400 Free Online Job Training Courses

in Education, Online Courses, Technology

How many of us have taken an online course to learn a new language? My guess is, a lot. How many have used the web to find a recipe? Even more. But as handy as those skills are, will they help anybody land a job?

While unemployment figures hover at just above 8 percent, analysts say that the numbers are much higher for low-skilled workers. Skill-sets are out of sync with the demands of today’s job market and fewer companies than ever offer on-the-job-training for rudimentary workplace skills, like how to use a computer or work in an office environment.

ALISON—an Irish company with an uncatchy longer moniker: Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online—provides free online courses in job-friendly skills. Some are basic but essential—Fundamentals of Google Docsor Touch Type Training. Others are more specialized (Programming in Adobe Flash) and many could be useful for anybody, job seeking or not (Protect Yourself From Identity Theft).

ALISON focuses on the practical, culling free courses from a range of publishers that will upgrade anyone’s employment skills. The site has a million registered users across the globe and is adding 50,000 learners every month. Un- or under-employed people can get help planning their career path with a course that takes from 1-2 hours. The course includes an assessment and a discussion forum.

While many sites offer academic instruction, relatively few offer free workplace skill instruction and ALISON selects courses for their quality and interactivity. The site is so robust and straight-forward that government workplace centers in 18 states use it as a tool to help clients beef up their resume skills.

Of the 400 available courses, the most popular is also one of the most comprehensive. ABC IT  is a 15-20 hour comprehensive introduction to IT literacy. It integrates basic concepts of computing, Microsoft Office applications and touch type training, as well as big-picture discussion of how computing can be an everyday feature of life and work.

The site itself serves as an example of computing as a tool for social change. “We believe that all certifiable or standards-based learning for every subject can be made available for free online,” ALISON founders write on the site. “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.”

As always, when you’re done visiting ALISON’s catalogue, don’t forget to spend time with our big collection of 500 Free Online Courses from great universities. There’s no shortage of career-enhancing courses here, including a long list of classes dedicated to IT and computer science.

Via the New York Times.

Kate Rix is an Oakland based freelance writer. See more of her work

Ocean off Oregon Polluted With Coffee – SHOCKER


People aren’t the only ones getting a jolt from caffeine these days; in a new study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, scientists found elevated concentrations of caffeine in the Pacific Ocean in areas off the coast of Oregon.

Yes, the details include the percentage of metropolitan wastewater treatment centers vs. home (septic) treatment centers and a variety of influences.  And yes, one does worry about the serious implication of not only caffeine but also all of the medications and drugs that are being pumped into the ocean.

But I find myself grinning when I think that the Pacific NW is indeed somewhere one might legitimately expect to find elevated levels of caffeine in the ocean.  I have heard the function of a worker is to convert caffeine to urine.  

Via Announces The APC 8750, A $50 Android PC

From MaximumPC while I ponder a DIY Build-Your-Own PC I saw this:

If you’re getting sick of waiting for a slice of your very own Raspberry Pi mini-PC, fear not; the cavalry will soon be arriving thanks to an unexpected rival: Via, the longtime mobo makers. Yesterday, the company announced its Pi-like "APC 8750" board, a $50 Android-powered PC complete with processor, memory and a host of I/O ports.

The Via APC fits into any mini-ATX or micro-ATX case even though it’s based on a new "Neo-ATX" form factor, measuring in at just 17cm by 8.5cm. This particular Android 2.3 Gingerbread variant has been optimized for keyboard and mouse input. The mini-PC sports 4 USB 2.0 ports and HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, micro SD and audio/mic connections for all your interfacing needs.

Hardware-wise, the APC rocks an 800MHz VIA processor along with a memory combo of 512MB of DDR3 and 2GB of NAND. The system is capable of pumping out 720p graphics via its HDMI port; that, combined with the Ethernet connectivity, may just make the APC 8750 an attractive little $50 media streamer for Netflix lovers and HTPC enthusiasts on a budget. The Raspberry Pi, however, can stream a full 1080p feed and comes with its own power supply — something the APC 8750 lacks.

Via claims the APC 8750 consumes just 4W when idle and 13.5W under max load.

Interested? Head on over to the APC website, where you can find out more about the $50 Android PC and sign up to receive an email notification when the diminutive board launches. Via expects the APC 8750 to start shipping in early July.