Many thanks to Nigel Smith, Head of Content at FutureLearn Ltd, for submitting this blog to coincide with the 2nd day of GSM Career’s Digital World Week.
Digital Education: Get Empowered and Improve Your Life
The internet is transforming learning and teaching just as it’s transformed the likes of the music and publishing industries. It’s now easier for people to continue learning, gain qualifications and pursue areas of professional development thanks to websites and apps. At FutureLearn you can get access to some of the best lecturers in the world wherever you are and when it’s convenient to you.
FutureLearn is a social learning website, designed to support learning through conversation. It offers free online courses from globally renowned UK and international universities, specialist education institutions and cultural bodies like the British Council, British Library and British Museum.
FutureLearn was formed in December 2012 by The Open University, following the rapid development of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in the global higher education sector, led by American providers like Coursera and edX. Its first courses began in October 2013, and have so far registered significantly higher levels of social engagement and participation among learners; analysis of the first 21 courses to run in 2014 revealed that 23% of people who start a course complete the majority of steps and all the assessments, roughly double the completion rates that other providers report.
Course experience centres on social interaction, where people learn by engaging in conversations around the learning material. Courses incorporate FutureLearn’s distinctive storytelling elements, guiding learners through a compelling narrative made up of videos, articles, case studies and other rich media features. They offer a delightful and intuitive user experience, ensuring that learners enjoy their experience of learning.
Created to encourage lifelong learning, courses on FutureLearn have a range of applications including leisure, introduction to university studies and continuing professional development in vital sectors. There are currently over 160 available, from a growing list of international institutions. Over May and June 2014, eleven additional institutions have joined the FutureLearn partnership, including the National Film & Television School, and our first partners from Africa, China and Korea. At present, the partnership comprises 44 higher and specialist education institutions and three cultural bodies (the British Council, British Library and British Museum).
A growing number of businesses and professional bodies are signing up to sponsor MOOCs for professional recognition on FutureLearn. Recent additions include the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants, BT and Institute of Engineering and Technology. You’ll see these organisations’ logos on our Statements of Participation, which you can buy for every FutureLearn course. Every week we’re hearing more stories about students and job applicants mentioning their courses as part of applications. Employers are increasingly taking note of the online courses their staff and applicants are taking.
Every FutureLearn course attracts thousands of learners – our most popular – Exploring English (taught by the British Council) had more than 120,000 people enrolled from more than 105 countries. This course is for people who are learning English and who are interested in finding out more about British culture and improving their English language skills. It covers themes such as English as a global language, the environment, entrepreneurship and literature.
What makes taking a FutureLearn course so exciting and fun is that you don’t just benefit from the expertise of teachers from the world’s best universities, you also learn from your fellow learners who readily share their own expertise and knowledge.