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Summer learning…. had me a blast?

FutureLearn’s School Liaison Lead, Lorna Charlish, talks about the value of free online courses for students and teachers today.

FutureLearn in schools

For A Level students, it can be tempting to switch off now the long summer months are here, relax, and try not to think about anything school/college related until the alarm goes off for the first day back in September.

However, FutureLearn’s School Liaison Lead, Lorna Charlish, explains why it’s more important than ever for students to make the use of summer learning with a FutureLearn course.

Get ahead: improve UCAS applications and interviews

In an increasingly competitive market, every student needs to be looking for ways to impress the university of their choice. FutureLearn’s courses are very well known by the universities, so the person reading your application will understand that you’ve committed to a topic and dedicated your time to learning. Often the exact university you’re looking to go to will have invested heavily in creating a course. Interested in medicine at Kings or history at Trinity? It’s a huge missed opportunity not to have their FutureLearn course on your UCAS application.

Prepare for University

University study is very different from what you will experience at A Level. Students are using FutureLearn, and specifically the UEA’s Preparing for Uni course, to give them a head start on the learning styles and techniques that will be required of them. According to one FutureLearner, ‘I’ve learnt what it’s like to be at uni and have become more prepared for what the future has in store; I would recommend this to anyone planning to go – it’s really compelling and interesting.’

Get new ideas and access to additional resources

However good a lesson in a classroom may be, it’s unlikely you’d get world famous authors Alex Garland or Louis de Bernières popping along to discuss what inspires them, or get direct insight from real life criminal investigations – online learning opens up a world of new resources and opportunities.  Courses on FutureLearn may not always be related to the curriculum – but that doesn’t mean they can’t form the starting point of an interesting and fulfilling career. One A Level student said it was ‘fascinating to learn about a new and relatively complex area of science’, and another believes it ‘allows us to broaden our interests, beyond what we learn at school’.

Improve results at A Level

Gaining new learning techniques; accessing new resources; getting new ideas; stretching your brain – it’s hard to believe that the additional effort won’t translate into improved results.

Get a taster of courses and topics

Still undecided on the course or university for you? Before you commit to 3-5 years of focused study, it is worth spending time working out whether you’re really going to enjoy that option. As one FutureLearn student told us, ‘it has been very useful in helping me make decisions that are potentially life changing, I used the information I was given to come to a conclusion that I am now very happy with.’

Considering an EPQ?

If you’re thinking about starting an EPQ or you’re already well underway, Southampton’s Developing Your Research Project is ideal. From choosing a topic, to structuring your project and presenting your findings, it gives you everything you need to make your EPQ a success.

Learn at your own pace

Constantly wanting to skip ahead in lessons? Or wishing you could have more time to consider things properly? FutureLearn is designed so that you can learn exactly how you want to. Simply mark the tasks as complete when you’re ready. Also, regardless of the dates published for each course, you can revisit it any time once you’ve registered, and even take the course weeks or months after it goes live.

So, put the summer to good use and get the head start you need; for an experience FutureLearners tell us is ‘interesting, informative and overall amazing’, visit the full course list here.

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