UK's biggest online university programme is being launched

Published on Wednesday, 18 September 2013 12:25
Written by Sinead Fynes Black

FutureLearn to launch unique social online learning experience, delivering free university courses to learners around the world

  • The first UK-led provider of massive open online courses encourages social learning and is optimised for use on mobile devices
  • FutureLearn features a diverse course list from over 20 internationally renowned institutions, with eight courses commencing this year
  • The website goes live as an open beta test, capturing real learner feedback to tailor its ongoing development

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."

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said, "Time and again we have seen the disruptive impact the internet can have on industries – driving innovation and enhancing the customer experience. I have no doubt MOOCs will do the same for education – offering people new and exciting ways to learn. This is why we took the initiative to join forces with a range of university and cultural partners to create FutureLearn – spearheading the UK's response to the rise of MOOCs and offering students a new and innovative way to access courses. It is so exciting to see the first of these going live and I can't wait to see the range on offer expand over the coming months."

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."

Source: FutureLearn

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