OpenLearn: Free online learning from The Open University UK

The Open University (OU) was established in 1969, and is the UK’s largest university. Offering flexible learning choices for 50 years now, they have made higher education more accessible to over 2 million people in the UK, Europe and beyond. From short courses right through to postgraduate and research options, OU have positioned themselves as “the world’s leading distance-learning provider”. More information:

To gain recognised degrees, there are of course fees involved, however did you know that OU also offer a huge range of free courses through OpenLearn? Since 2006, an extensive website offers easy access to thousands of free resources and courses. This is a great way to enhance your skills and knowledge, for free:

The eight subject areas are:

  • Money and Business
  • Education and Development
  • Health, Sports and Psychology
  • History and the Arts
  • Languages
  • Nature and the Environment
  • Science, Maths and Technology
  • Society, Politics and Law

Courses are generally at your own pace, with a wealth of quality, well presented information online.

2008 OpenLearn Ethics

I first enrolled in OpenLearn in 2008 and was part of a trial short course in Ethics. From my own notebook:

Though Ethics was not a topic I would have initially thought of myself, OpenLearn selected 10 students to send a webcam to (yes, they weren’t always inbuilt in 2008!). I had recently relocated from the UK back to my native Australia, and the class time was around 6am for me – but having a young baby to feed, this was fine! That particular course was a group of students and a lecturer, working through together at a set time. This is not common on the free courses, but was a fun experience.

What are you interested in?

Why not follow your interests and enrol in a free course today? I’ve just signed up for “Leadership and followership”.


It does take some motivation to follow an online course. Two suggestions to combat this are to set aside regular time in your agenda to follow the course, or to sign up with a friend and both study together.

More free courses – or create your own course

The courses above are created by OU, however they also host a platform where individuals and organisations can publish their own course. This means there are thousands more free courses you can follow:

More information:

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