Skip main navigation

FutureLearn and Creative Skillset partner to deliver free online courses for creative professionals

  • Creative Skillset has invested £200,000 in the creation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) for career development
  • Courses will be developed in collaboration with leading universities and industry stalwarts like D&AD, The Production Guild of Great Britain and the Ethical Fashion Forum
  • The move follows calls by UK government and the creative industry for more online CPD resources for the sector
  • A number of the new courses are available now for learners to sign up for

Creative professionals at every stage of their career will be able to enhance their skills through a suite of free online courses piloted on the FutureLearn platform, following a £200,000 investment by Creative Skillset.

Covering a range of topics such as script writing, animation and filmmaking for the web, eight new short training programmes will take the form of massive open online courses, commonly known as MOOCs. By allowing thousands of people to learn together online, MOOCs have emerged as an effective way of delivering high quality courses from world-leading educators at a massive scale.

Learning on FutureLearn, the only UK-based platform for MOOCs, will also enable creative practitioners from a range of backgrounds to have conversations with one another, as well as with the experts leading the courses, to share experiences and best practice.

Creative Skillset, which empowers the creative industries to develop skills and talent, has invested in the creation of the free online courses as part of a wider programme to explore sustainable models for teaching and learning in the UK creative sector. The new initiative aims to address skills gaps in the creative industries by delivering a range of courses for continuing professional development directly to creative practitioners. This co-investment has been made possible via the Employer Ownership Pilot.

The partnership between FutureLearn and Creative Skillset follows calls for industry-led skills systems that support entry to and progression within the UK’s creative industries. ‘Create UK’, the Creative Industries Council’s strategy for the sector published in 2014, highlighted the growing need for people with the right skills and experience to help the UK remain competitive. Specific recommendations from the report included the creation of more online career development opportunities, and industry collaborations for affordable training options for freelancers (Creative Industries Council, 2014, p. 11).

FutureLearn has already seen a high demand for courses in this subject area. Since October 2013, free online courses in its Creative Arts and Media category, created by leading universities and specialist education providers, have generated close to 250,000 course enrolments. The new set of courses funded by Creative Skillset are expected to generate at least 200,000 additional course enrolments.

FutureLearn Chief Executive Simon Nelson said:

“Free online courses are becoming an increasingly important tool in professional development, with learners and employers especially taking notice of the calibre of the teaching institutions, and the potential of MOOCs to reach vast numbers of people. At FutureLearn, we have spent a lot of time fostering collaborations between our partners and industry leaders to produce relevant, career-enhancing courses for sectors like the creative industries where there is a clear demand. The social nature of the FutureLearn platform will also enable creative professionals to discuss the key issues raised during the courses with one another, and with world-class educators.”

Creative Skillset Chief Executive, Dinah Caine CBE, said:

“Free online courses are a great way of supporting creative professionals to develop the key skills our industries need. Research from Creative Skillset shows growing demand for online training, especially among freelancers, where time constraints and costs can be a barrier to professional development.”

Partnering with the best in the industry

As well as joining FutureLearn as a course-creating partner, Creative Skillset has funded the development of free online courses by other FutureLearn partners, namely:

  • D&AD, a not-for-profit that exists to stimulate, enable and award creative excellence in design and advertising.
  • The National Film and Television School
  • Norwich University of the Arts
  • The University of Birmingham
  • The University of East Anglia

Further industry expertise for the new set of courses will be drawn from the BBC Academy, an education arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation; The Ethical Fashion Forum a not-for-profit network focusing on social and environmental sustainability in the fashion industry and The Production Guild of Great Britain, the membership organisation for film and TV production management professionals.

The new courses

The following courses are available on the FutureLearn site now for learners to sign up for, with teaching set to commence in the coming weeks:

  • Digital Storytelling: Filmmaking for the Web, taught by the University of Birmingham, in association with BBC Academy. This four-week course will examine filmmaking theory and practice to help learners to develop short films for digital platforms. Key issues to be covered include story structure, practical techniques for camera, sound and lighting, ethics and legalities. Digital Storytelling: Filmmaking for the Web begins on 28th September 2015.
  • Brand Storytelling: How to Use Narrative to Sell, taught by D&AD. Aimed primarily at junior creatives, this four-week course explores the power of storytelling for creating brand success.  It includes guidance on how to create a narrative; how to communicate a brand through story; and how to amplify a message through digital media. Brand Storytelling: How to Use Narrative to Sell begins on 16th November 2015.
  • An Introduction to Screenwriting, taught by the University of East Anglia. This two-week course will introduce a screenwriter’s dramaturgy and the basic elements of dramatic story. Learners will also examine common approaches to story structure and cinematic form and establish the essential elements of screenplay form and format. An Introduction to Screenwriting will begin on 29th February 2016.
  • Film Production: Behind the Scenes of the Feature Filmmaking, developed in collaboration with The Production Guild of Great Britain and Creative Skillset. This three-week course will explore the key stages of how a film gets made, the different types of production, the departments involved and the roles people play. Film Production: Behind the Scenes of Feature Filmmaking will begin in early 2016.
  • How to build a Sustainable Fashion Business, developed in collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Forum and Creative Skillset. This five-week course will explore the issues which face entrepreneurs growing a fashion business with a social or environmental ethos. Key issues to be covered include brand strategy and range planning; financing; and how to find sustainably made fabrics and ethical manufacturers. How to build a Sustainable Fashion Business will begin in early 2016.

Also coming in early 2016 are:

  • Professional Animation Techniques, from the National Film and Television School. The course will see professional animators discuss their approach to telling stories and demystify their own animation techniques, from stop frame and 2D cell animation to computer graphics and pixellation.
  • Commercial photographic practice and the moving image, from Norwich University of the Arts. The course will examine what it means for a photographer to engage with the needs of the commercial industry, from developing an individual practice to the practicalities of working in a competitive industry.
  • Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers, from Norwich University of the Arts. The course will focus on the needs of filmmakers working with a short timeframe and a tight budget. It will demonstrate the fundamental concepts of visual effects with the aim of allowing filmmakers to get quick results using freely available software.

FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University which has 45 years of expertise in distance and online learning. More than two million learners from over 190 countries have registered since the first courses began in October 2013, generating more than 4.5 million course registrations between them.


Related stories on FutureLearn

FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now