08 Nov 2013

Open University launches free online Ecosystems course

David Attenborough

David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough features in the The Open University’s first free, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the FutureLearn social-learning platform. Introduction to Ecosystems is a six-week course starting on 18 November and is aimed at those who are new to the subject.

Broadcaster and Naturalist Sir David Attenborough features in video case studies used in the course and said: “It’s tremendously important for us all to understand the world we live in and our own place in nature. I am delighted to play a part in helping The Open University teach people about the delicate balance of our ecosystems.”

Dr David Robinson developed the course and said: “Understanding ecosystems transforms our view of the natural world. Those taking this course will discover how organisms are linked together by complex interrelationships, how such links are studied and the adaptations that organisms have to the physical properties of a particular habitat. It’s an exciting development to be able to extend this course free to anyone in the world who wants to learn.”

The course requires no special knowledge and is a commitment of just three hours per week. Using high-quality video case studies throughout, OU academics illustrate how individual ecosystems function and the impact of humans on the natural world.

Registration is open now, and a trailer of the course is available to view at: All Open University Science MOOCs presented on FutureLearn are produced with the kind support of Dangoor Education

About FutureLearn is the first UK-led multi-institutional provider of free, open, online higher education courses. It will offer courses for people to access and enjoy wherever they are in the world on multiple devices. Courses will be created by the Universities of Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leicester, Loughborough, Kings College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Monash, Nottingham, The Open University, Queen’s Belfast, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Strathclyde, Trinity College Dublin and Warwick. In addition, the British Council, British Library and the British Museum have all agreed to partner with FutureLearn to share content and their expertise and collaborate in the development of courses through
For further details, please contact: / 0203 047 2588

About The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has almost 250,000 current students, including more than 15,000 overseas.

The OU is rated in the top five of UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey, since the survey began in 2005. In 2012/13 it had a 92% satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) The Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which received 5.2million unique visitors in 2012/13, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded more than 60 million downloads. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme.

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