Eliademy makes free learning their business
Using technology to democratise education, this online platform allows instructors to create, share and teach courses without charge.
During their 15 years of combined corporate experience in Finland, Sergey Gerasimenko and Sotiris Makrygiannis had become acutely aware that enterprise and learning management software lacked the ease of use and simplicity enjoyed by most consumer-facing technologies.
Earlier this decade they set out to remedy this, pooling together their knowledge of building open source-based phones and apps.
First they launched a service to help elderly people embrace modern technology. However, this proved too much of an ask and the idea struggled to gain traction. Having returned to the drawing board, the duo sought out a sector that could be well served by their expertise. Their gaze fell upon educational platforms.
Now, here was a lot of potential indeed.
Established in 2013, Eliademy allows educators and students around the world to create, share and manage online courses online for free.
“Access to education really should be our basic right, but it is true only for portion of humanity,” Gerasimenko explains. “We want to be a one-size-fits-all platform that doesn’t force you how to teach your course. Instead it just gives you enough flexibility and essential tools for teaching.”
In good company
The rest is history for this Helsinki-based company. In 2014 Ed Tech named Eliademy among Europe’s 20 fastest growing and most innovative e-learning companies. Not to be outdone, a prestigious Edison Gold Award arrived the following year.
Eliademy’s user base now represents 160 countries, who together can choose between around 25 000 different courses in numerous languages. Topics range from how to build mobile apps, to pitching tips and an introduction to marketing, along with clinical pharmacology and the works of Shakespeare.
Yet, where Eliademy’s story differs from many upstarts is that it has yet to fully capitalise on its popularity. In fact, around 95 per cent of the online platform’s courses are still without charge – both for users and instructors.
“It would also be easy to slap on Google advertising and be swimming in money,” Gerasimenko states. “But we don’t want students to be influenced in any way; we want it to be a simple, safe environment where they come and learn.”
Eliademy has been able to stay afloat by offering a premium service, which caters to organisations that wish to charge for their courses, as well as others seeking to disseminate information away from the public eye.
“We have over 2 000 different organisations that use our platform,” Gerasimenko says, listing various higher learning institutes, governmental organisations and prominent NGOs. “On top of that we have a lot of small companies under 100 people who are into delivering confidential material to their client or customers.”
This approach to sharing knowledge also extends offline for Gerasimenko. Drawing on his experiences with Eliademy, he is currently a board member of non-profit PMI Chapter Finland, providing local project workers with ongoing learning, networking and community support.
Recently he also started Nordic Founders, a focal point for anyone interested in practical tips for running a startup or small business in Finland. Over 400 members have already attended its monthly meetup at the Aalto Entrepreneurship Society.
Unsurprisingly, both of these are offered for free.
“Living in Finland makes you think that education should not be sold, to anyone,” he states. “We want Eliademy to be a simple, affordable platform. It’s made in Finland, run from Finland; everything is done in Finland.
“Go and give it a try.”
Text: James O’Sullivan