Ten principles that guide how we design and build FutureLearn.
Wherever possible, we encourage our partners to make course content open and discoverable, to link out to the best of the web and take part in the online discussion. We strive to make course content accessible on as many devices as possible and to all visitors. We share our development process and the reasoning behind our business decisions via channels such as our blog.
Listen to our learners
Feedback from our learners is at the heart of our development process: both in terms of course content and features of the platform. We constantly iterate and improve based on feedback and observing how people are learning. We release features as quickly as possible and learn from how real people use them. And then we make them better.
Narrative is important. We want to inspire our learners to go on a journey and know where they are and where to go next. The narrative includes times to watch, listen and read, space for conversation, moments of quiet reflection and climaxes of assessment. We use storytelling to communicate ideas in fun and engaging ways. And we always let learners catch up.
Conversation happens in context and is integral to the learning experience. Social interactions are open by default to encourage vicarious learning and allow all to benefit from the discussion. We encourage everyone to be sociable because one of the best ways to learn is through talking with others.
We seize the opportunities that a large number of people learning together affords: the specialist knowledge that exists in the group; the number of people online together at one time; the way ideas flow around a network; and how crowds can help surface the best content. And we learn from watching how a large group of learners behave.
We encourage learners to make connections to provide mutual support, challenge their ideas and remove the loneliness of distance learning. We create spaces for small groups to come together and reach shared understandings.
Keep it simple
We try to avoid complexity wherever possible. We use down-to-earth language and make the experience as friendly and welcoming as we can, and encourage our partners to the same. We design for the common use cases. If a feature is useful but only to a few, we will resist the temptation to include it, in order to keep the platform easy to use by all.
Learn from others
We borrow from the best of broadcasting, games and social media to create an engaging and enjoyable learning experience. We draw on the vast knowledge and experience that exists in The Open University and among our consortium of partners, who will also share their wealth of experience as educators with each other, to create the best possible final product.
We motivate our learners by breaking the journey into small steps. Each step is bite-sized to make the learning visible, help learners see progress quickly and regularly reflect on what they have learnt. We celebrate every step of progress, both small and large. There is no such thing as dropout: we encourage learners to take from the experience as little or as much as they desire.
We want to create a community of lifelong learners, and provide the stepping stones from one journey to the next. Our visitors are FutureLearners, not students of a particular university.