FutureLearn: Free Online Education

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When I put together the list of elearning platforms recently, I somehow totally missed FutureLearn.

I will be adding it immediately…and in fact, putting it at the top of the list!

This is a fantastic resource that I recently learnt about on a Yammer post from my programme director in the IBMS programme where I teach at The Hague University of Applied Sciences.

You can find them here: www.futurelearn.com

The FutureLearn Wikipedia Entry is also worth a look.   I was an early participant in The Open University online learning platform called “OpenLearn” and it seems the two are connected, both run by The Open University UK.  Also, it’s very interesting to me to see the British Library and British Museum involved – over at my blog Culture and Kids I show some of my love of museums, and it’s really cool to see this example of museums and online learning coming together!

At time of writing, FutureLearn has 3.2 million students from all over the world.

What I like most about it so far is the quality and the intuitive platform.   It’s just really nice and easy to use, and clean, clear and colourful are three words that come to mind. There is no app for your mobile or tablet, but the website itself is responsive, so you can simply log in to the main site on the go.  The courses are offered by universities and specialist organisations and are high quality in terms of production, presentation and content.  This is maintained as unlike platforms like Udemy or Skillshare, it is not open to “anyone” to create their own course.

The courses are split into 13 different categories, as per the screenshot below:

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There is also a neat collections feature, that groups together courses into specific skill sets, here are some examples below:

Right now, I’m signed up for two courses, both of which are already proving incredibly useful and relevant to my current work and study:

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It’s really interactive, with very busy comment sections, but ways that you can create a profile and follow others – and filter comments via just those you are following if you wish.

No doubt the actual materials and video length etc varies from course to courses, but for the ones I’m following so far, I like the PDF crib sheets (“cheat sheets”) that you can download with summaries, and the really short bite-sized videos.  Like all the best online learning platforms, you can also easily track your progress.  Courses start and end on certain dates, but you have long term access to the materials, meaning if you slip behind, it’s not a big drama.

A feature I’d like to see are a total count of students for each course (mainly just as I’m interested!) – you can judge by the number of comments but this is probably not a realistic reflection as there would be many more who don’t comment.

On completion of a course, you can buy a certification, currently recognised in the UK but no doubt in other countries as well.  Due to the quality of their courses, alignment with recognised universities and the amount of time you need to successfully complete one, I believe these are likely to become a valued, trustworthy document.

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Something else that impressed me is their social media engagement.  If you check out the rest of this blog, you will see two of my main passions are social media and elearning, and I think they compliment each other really well (and I spoke about this topic in Vienna last year for Adatera).   After tagging FutureLearn on Facebook this week, it was great to have them reply with a personalised message:

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They also ask new learners to complete a survey and I like this focus on two-way conversation and learner input.

Regardless of the elearning or online learning platform, only you can decide what your goals and interests are, but I think for many people, FutureLearn is well worth a look!  Would love a comment below if you’ve used or are interested in using FutureLearn.






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