FutureLearn, the first UK-led provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), has signed up the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) as its latest business sponsor of MOOCs aimed at furthering professional development. The news was announced in China today, where Martin Bean, FutureLearn Chairman and Vice Chancellor of The Open University, accompanied British Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to strengthen ties with the country. One of the many aims of the UK delegation was to explore ways of tackling 21st century challenges such as educating the next generation.
The IET is one of the world’s largest organisations for engineers and technicians, with 160,000 members in 127 countries around the world. The free courses created through the alliance with FutureLearn will provide industry professionals, engineers and technicians worldwide with knowledge that will help develop their careers. The new MOOCs will also highlight the importance of engineering as an occupation in the 21st century.
This agreement marks an important step towards adding even more career-enhancing subjects to FutureLearn’s diverse course list, while working with industry to support the take up of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) among learners around the world.
The IET will work with FutureLearn’s university partners and other corporates to make high quality engineering and technology MOOCs that meet the body’s criteria towards professional qualifications, membership requirements and to support continuing professional development. Available from 2014, the courses will be available to the IET’s members around the world, as well as FutureLearn’s global learner base.
A further objective for the IET is that these MOOCs will inspire school and university students to aim for roles in Engineering and Technology, something which is crucial in helping to resolve the global skills shortage.
Martin Bean, FutureLearn Chairman and Vice Chancellor of The Open University said of the new relationship, “In an increasingly competitive global economy, people around the world need to know they can access the education they need to get ahead. By working with FutureLearn, the IET will be able to boost the talents of engineers everywhere while also inspiring the next generation of skilled professionals in this vital sector.”
Simon Nelson, Chief Executive of FutureLearn, said, “I am delighted to welcome the IET as the first professional engineering body to sponsor MOOCs on FutureLearn. This relationship creates a valuable opportunity to give our learners access to the IET’s expertise and content as they look to MOOCs as a way of building their professional knowledge.”
Nigel Fine, IET Chief Executive, said, “The IET is a trusted source of essential engineering intelligence. This partnership with FutureLearn means we can give even better access to technical training to our members and the wider engineering community.”
Amanda Weaver, IET Publishing Director, said, “Through the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) we will be able to provide huge opportunities for our members to brush-up their skills, move into new technical areas, and with the additional outcome of a certificate to prove completion of a course and accrual of CPD hours.
“Our involvement with FutureLearn and MOOCs will also greatly support our efforts to support STEM courses and attract more people into the subject. There is a global skills crisis affecting engineering and technology which is negatively affecting the economy. Through this work we can open up learning and knowledge to the next generation of engineers and technicians whilst also helping current engineers to develop the professional skills they need to develop their careers.”