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UCL enters into partnership with FutureLearn to offer its first MOOC programmes

UCL has today entered into a partnership with FutureLearn, the UK-based social learning platform, which will see it launch two massive open online courses (MOOCs) in the next 12 months.

The two MOOCs will be drawn from UCL’s range of programmes, and all UCL Departments have been invited to express their interest in taking part by 8 June, with an announcement of the successful bids to follow shortly after.

FutureLearn currently has 57 partners around the world, with the inclusion of UCL, comprising some of the best known UK and international universities and cultural bodies. Close to 1.6 million people from 190 countries have signed up to follow its courses since it launched in 2013.

Professor Anthony Smith, UCL Vice-Provost (Education and Student Affairs) said: “I am pleased that UCL is exploring a different aspect of online education through developing MOOCs using the innovative FutureLearn platform. We see this as an opportunity to improve our use of digital technology in teaching and learning and to extend the reach of our programmes, and we will monitor closely the success of these first two programmes to assess their potential for future use by UCL.”

Mark Lester, FutureLearn’s Global Head of Education Partnerships, said: “The addition of UCL to the FutureLearn partnership is a truly positive step for our global community of learners, and for the platform as a whole. FutureLearn is successfully engaging its core audiences of general interest learners, working professionals and young people preparing to enter university, and that success is largely due to our distinctive approach to delivering MOOCs which is guided by theories of learning through conversation. To be now working with one of the world’s foremost educational institutes presents us with a valuable opportunity to further develop our courses and pedagogy.”

The FutureLearn platform has been built to enable social learning at a massive scale, with learner conversations happening around each piece of course content, so that the comments themselves become a rich source of learning material.

Among their benefits, MOOCs present great potential for enabling professionals to engage more easily in lifelong learning, as well as enabling academics, teachers and policy makers make better use of technology in education.

MOOCs typically run over a few weeks, generally entail five to ten hours a week of study time, and are pitched roughly at first year undergraduate level. Typically, around 85% of participants are already graduates who wish to extend and update their knowledge. FutureLearn, however, is reaching a much broader demographic, with almost a third of learners not having a degree already. The platform is also bucking the trend of earlier MOOC providers and reaching more women than men.

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