As the 3 millionth person joins FutureLearn, our Head of Product, Matt Walton, reflects on another landmark number, and provides some insights into who our learners are and what lies ahead for FutureLearn.
Last week, FutureLearn passed another significant milestone in our mission to pioneer the best social learning experiences for everyone, anywhere. 3 million people have now joined the site, just over two years since we began running our first courses and less than a year after we celebrated 1 million people joining FutureLearn.
FutureLearn is now established: we’re bigger, more international and growing fast. There are now 327 courses in our portfolio, on a huge range of subjects, created by 83 partners from all over the world, including top universities and specialist organisations with educational remits.
These 3 million people have signed up to over 6 million courses between them. And on the 400+ course runs that have finished on FutureLearn to date, an average of 24% of people who started courses, fully participated.
Our mission is to make education more accessible, convenient and affordable to as many people as possible, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever their background and ability, and whatever technology they use. How are we doing against that mission?
- People of all ages use FutureLearn. Each age bracket in our “More about you” survey is roughly equal in number (see the graph below).
- People use FutureLearn in almost every country in the world. Learners from 211* countries and territories have started courses in the last two months alone, and we’re increasingly growing in new continents outside our home in Europe.
- 62% of our learners are female. We’re very proud of our gender balance: unlike almost every other learning platform, we attract more women than men.
- 27% of our learners do not have a degree. Our goal is to make higher education accessible to those who have traditionally found it too intimidating or expensive, or simply not right for them.
- 38% of visits to FutureLearn are on a mobile or tablet. We want people to be able to learn wherever they are, anywhere in the world, on any internet connected device.
FutureLearn is founded on the idea of learning through conversation – hearing new perspectives and other people’s experiences from around the globe, sharing and collaborating on ideas, and mutually supporting each other is hugely effective.
Today, 38% of learners take part in discussion on our courses. On our record-breaking Understanding IELTS course, one step received over 15,000 comments, while the University of Strathclyde’s Caring for Vulnerable Children course was a particularly notable success, with 7,000 learners posting over 55,000 comments between them.
We’re amazed by the scale and quality of engagement from our learners, but think we’ve only just scratched the surface in terms of the potential of learning through conversation.
So what’s next?
Not only is our number of learners growing, so is FutureLearn. Thanks to more investment from our owner, The Open University, we’re now nearly 90 people, growing from around 50 back in August. So what are we all working on?
- We’re building on the social learning foundation we’ve created, introducing new ways to help learners find the conversations that are most interesting to them, manage their discussions and connections, and learn together in groups.
- We’ll be helping our learners set themselves goals, track their progress and improve the range of assessment we offer.
- We’ll be enhancing how you can discover courses, including introducing new ways to search and browse, and helping learners find the right courses for them.
- We’re going to pilot courses in languages other than English, such as our first course in Chinese, and improve our support for non-English speaking learners.
- We’ll be enhancing the learning experience on mobile.
- We’ll be developing greater support for learning in workplaces and in schools, and growing our range of professional courses in areas such as healthcare, to address the huge demand for skills.
- We’ll be bringing more partners from all over the world into our network, and expanding the range and diversity of the courses we offer.
And of course, we’ll be continuing to do everything we can to reach millions more learners around the globe. You can help us spread the message by telling your friends, family and colleagues about FutureLearn. Let’s see how fast we can pass that next milestone.
You can meet some of 3 million people who are improving their lives with FutureLearn on our Meet the FutureLearners blog or tell us your own story. And you can find out more about what we’re up to in our Making FutureLearn posts or tell us your own ideas for FutureLearn.
* We use the International Standard Organisations ISO 3166 list when we ask learners which country they are from. The list includes 249 countries.