FutureLearn, the UK-based social learning platform owned by The Open University, has announced it is to partner with its first Chinese universities. At a signing ceremony in London attended by the leaders of each country, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Fudan University joined the list of FutureLearn partners to create high quality educational experiences for learners in China, and across the world, through free online courses.
The new agreements were signed at a major trade event in London attended by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The partnerships with FutureLearn will offer both Chinese universities the chance to reach hundreds of thousands of learners globally through massive open online courses (MOOCs), and connect more Chinese students with a range of academic, leisure and career-enhancing courses from leading UK and international institutions.
Welcoming the two institutions to the partnership, Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn, said: “I’m glad that FutureLearn can act as a portal for Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Fudan University to reach a global community of learners, and within China, to meet the ever-growing demand for international education resources.”
FutureLearn and its partners, which include other leading higher and specialist education institutions as well as cultural bodies like the British Council, British Museum and British Library, will also collaborate with the two Chinese universities on research to gain insights into new ways of delivering online learning.
Professor Zhen Huang, Vice President of Shanghai Jiao Tong University described the new partnership as “an honour,” adding: “MOOCs are bringing real innovation to the global education sector and Shanghai Tong University is working to combine them with its traditional teaching methods to create a mixed mode of online and offline teaching.”
Professor Fang Lu, Vice President of Fudan University, also welcomed the move: “It is an honour for Fudan University to open up to a worldwide community of learners who can benefit from access to our world class education.”
The first FutureLearn courses went live in September 2013, and the platform currently reaches learners in 190 countries and territories around the world.