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First reactions to FutureLearn from our Alpha testers

Over the last two weeks, a number of volunteers have been taking part in the alpha testing phase of FutureLearn – trying out a couple of pilot courses on the platform – so that we can tailor the experience in response to real user feedback.

The product development team is going to post about the feedback on the product – the features people most enjoyed as well as the ideas they had to improve the experience. We are using this feedback to inform our roadmap which was the main purpose of the alpha test.

However, having received so many emails from our pilot users, we also wanted to share some of the testers overall perceptions of FutureLearn.

The overwhelming thing that stood out was the enthusiasm people had for the potential to learn (again), particularly – and conveniently – online. Another theme that emerged was the many different reasons people cited as to why they enjoyed and/or were motivated to take courses on FutureLearn.

For our first pilot courses, we offered just two in quite different subject areas – one course on Marketing and the other on Moons. Demand for both was fairly evenly split. We invited testers from the UK and a number of other countries where we have had high user sign-ups.

Here are some of the comments we received.

“This is an excellent way for me to learn something new while also improving my English. I particularly liked the interaction with other learners on the website – so much better than trying to learn alone.” Lucie, (Studying to be an English teacher, France).

“I am currently applying for work in the UK and I think that MOOCs will help to improve my CV and job prospects. Having skills and knowledge learnt from the top UK universities will make me more employable. On top of that the course was fun!” Nat, (Graphic Design Graduate, Thailand).

“I will be applying to UK universities to study next year. I will definitely take some MOOCs to find out more about the subjects at University level and to hopefully improve my chances of being accepted.” Anonymous, (Undergraduate student, India).

I just wanted to say, at the outset, that I am enjoying taking this course, both in terms of content but also for the general experience of learning in a newish way.” Emma, (Librarian, UK).

“I’m enjoying the fact that I’m potentially learning something new and following a course like this … it’s “forcing” me to take some time out to do so, and to create some down time. I love the convenience of online learning (I live in the Yorkshire Dales where it takes forever to get anywhere with a university or educational institution so I wouldn’t be able to do this otherwise). Just prompting questions is useful because it starts my brain whirring, even if sometimes the result is to consider things other than just branding!” Susan, (Director at The Tourism Network, UK).

“I would like to thank you for this course, knowing little of our planetary system, it was good to realise that so much is going on in terms of research at ground level, and the Voyagers moving through space. Great work, and has me roving all over Google learning more. Thank you.” John, (Retired, UK)

When there is a wide selection of courses to choose from FutureLearn will provide a really good resource to go to to find out about areas of interest.  And I think it is a big, big step forward from OERs” Margaret, (Director of Life Long Learning, UK).

“Bitesized education is very different for me, being able to jump from one piece of information to another reflects the modern technological audience. I have found it very useful though and it has helped with the flexibility of learning.” Trish, (UK).

“My motivation stems mainly from never taking a degree. Thanks for the opportunity to have a go, it’s really motivating me to sign up for a course.  I’ve enjoyed spending time researching online. I always thought the moon was out of reach, due to lack of science subjects at school so many moons ago (sorry), but I’m beginning to think differently now, thanks to FutureLearn” Joan, (Retired, UK).

Claire Davenport

Commercial, Operations, International Development at FutureLearn

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