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Introducing upgrading on FutureLearn courses

In this post our Chief Product Officer, Matt Walton talks about something new to FutureLearn: upgrading.

From today, we’re making some changes to the way FutureLearn courses work. Now you’ll be able to upgrade your courses, giving you a set of benefits, instead of only being able to buy a Certificate when you finish a course.

You can now upgrade your courses

On FutureLearn courses starting from 6 March 2017, you will have the option to upgrade a course

When you upgrade you get:

Upgrading usually costs between £24-£69, depending on the course (the same price as the certificates you could buy before). If you choose not to upgrade, you can still access the majority of the course for free, for the duration of the course plus two weeks – regardless of when you join. We still want to be sure everyone can benefit from high-quality education from leading organisations and universities.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

✓ Access to the course for its length + 14 days, regardless of when you join (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)✓ Unlimited access to the course, for as long as it exists on FutureLearn (this includes access to articles, videos, peer review steps, quizzes)
x No access to course tests✓ Access to course tests
x No certificate✓ A Certificate of Achievement when you complete the course

Useful things to know

You can upgrade a course at any time – before, during or after the course to get the benefits mentioned above. For example if you decide to upgrade your course after it ends, and want a certificate – you’ll be able to go back and do any tests to make sure you qualify for one.

Upgrading won’t affect courses that started before 6 March 2017 – you’ll still have access to previous courses you’ve joined and/or completed.

Why are we introducing upgrading?

We want to give as many people as we can the benefits of great learning. That’s what drives us, and why FutureLearn was created.

But producing high-quality courses and maintaining FutureLearn costs a lot and requires a lot of work from us and our partners. The UK’s Open University made an initial investment to get us up and running, but we’re a business and we need to be financially sustainable to be able to keep making education available to as many people as possible.

Our business model relies on a small number of people purchasing something that they value in order to keep the courses free for everyone to access.

But research we carried out showed that a certificate on its own doesn’t offer enough value for money and that some people don’t want or need a certificate. That’s why we want to create a more useful package of features that we think provides great value to as many people as possible.

These new features should offer you, our learners, a better set of benefits – and ensure we’re able to keep offering free learning to millions of people.

Over the coming months we’re likely to experiment with other benefits to help support your learning. Please get in touch if you have ideas for things that you would like to see us offer.

Why should you upgrade?

Take the course at your own pace
Being able to access the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn gives you ability the to learn at your own pace and refer back to course content whenever you like.

Validate your learning
When you upgrade, you’ll have access to any tests during the course. This allows you to ensure you have mastered the course material.

Prove your success
By taking tests you can qualify for a Certificate of Achievement or Statement of Participation to prove what you’ve learned. This is great for demonstrating your learning and commitment to your manager, potential employer or educational institutions.

Still got questions? Find answers in our Help Centre or the questions and answers in the comments below. If we’ve missed anything, feel free to ask in the comments and we will answer as best we can.

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