FutureLearn, the first UK-led provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), is from today offering learners around the world access to free, high quality courses from its internationally renowned university partners. Social interaction is central to the FutureLearn experience, enabling people to learn actively by engaging in conversations around the learning material, or vicariously, by following discussions.
FutureLearn has also been designed to work on smart phones, tablets and desktop computers, so that learners can enjoy the same high-quality user experience, regardless of the screen size.
FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University. The new website combines the best elements of the social web with The Open University’s 44 years of expertise in distance and open learning.
The FutureLearn website opens today as an open beta, which will run until early 2014. Learners will be able to sign up for a selection of courses from FutureLearn’s university partners, with learner feedback used to inform the ongoing development of the website. So far learners from over 165 countries have registered their interest in taking a course on FutureLearn.
Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn said, “We wanted to make FutureLearn a fresh, different and enjoyable user experience. We have designed the website in line with principles of effective learning, such as storytelling, discussions and celebrating progress. We decided to go live with FutureLearn now, in an open testing phase, so that we can remain responsive to learners as we continue to develop the website.”
Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said, "The launch of FutureLearn is an exciting development for UK learning. MOOCs provide the opportunity to widen access to our world class Universities and to meet the global demand for higher education.
"FutureLearn has the potential to revolutionise conventional models of formal education. I encourage all our institutions to explore the opportunities offered by new modes of technology, such as MOOCs. This will keep the UK ahead in the global race to deliver education in worldwide markets."
In addition to a strong social architecture and performance on a range of devices, FutureLearn’s key features include:
Claire Davenport, Commercial Director at FutureLearn said, “We are delighted to be working with such high quality institutions and educators. It has been inspiring to see the thought that has gone into designing the courses so that the learners really meet their objectives and benefit from studying with a large global group with different backgrounds. Our partners already have a range of courses in production and our pipeline for 2014 should have something to appeal to everyone, whether studying to improve their career prospects, enrich their lives or enliven their dinner conversations.”
FutureLearn was set up in December 2012 as the UK’s first provider of free, high quality MOOCs. Currently numbering 26, its partners and course providers comprise leading UK and international universities and cultural institutions including the British Library, British Museum and British Council.