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First Virtual Partners’ Forum

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Author: Christina Melidou, Partnership Manager

The Partners’ Forum has been a highly anticipated annual partner event. At the Forum, partners and FutureLearn staff gather to reflect on past successes, address challenges, and explore opportunities. More importantly, they meet to discuss, foster relationships and confirm their commitment to changing the way people access education.

When our Partners’ Forum in January ended, the London venue had already been booked for the next event in June and we were looking forward to seeing everyone there. Then COVID-19 happened and connecting became more important than ever, so, rather than shrinking our plans, we decided to go big. On 21-22 July, we ran our first fully remote Partners’ Forum which in fact became our most successful forum ever in terms of attendance and partner representation!

The forum launched with familiar faces: FutureLearn’s Simon Nelson, Justin Cooke and Nigel Smith reflected on the company’s phenomenal growth in the last few months and the many opportunities this has brought our partners: microcredentials and the “always available” initiative, our rapid response courses on COVID-19 which our partners worked day and night on, FutureLearn Campus and FutureLearn for Schools, our participation in the UK Government’s Skills Toolkit and the Study with Australia project with Austrade. We then looked into the future, announcing CPD certification across our portfolio, funding for in-demand courses and a new and improved partner community to facilitate networking and collaborations.

Partners had the opportunity to attend sessions on insights, product, marketing, FutureLearn Campus, as well as microcredentials and degrees. Despite the online delivery of the Forum, all sessions were interactive and, in fact, we had so many questions that we plan to follow up separately and respond to all of them. But we didn’t do all the talking: In the State of Education panel discussion, Lord Jim Knight from Tes Global, Amy Baker from The PIE and Rebecca Hall from Austrade challenged us to look ahead and consider what the education landscape might look like in a few years and whether, as Amy Baker, said “employability will be the new arms race in international education”. We also heard from our partners at Accenture, the University of Leeds, CIPD, Deakin and the University of Newcastle in Australia who shared their experience of working on, and off, the FutureLearn platform during the pandemic.

We look forward to “seeing” partners on November 4 & 5 for our Australia Forum, which will also be virtual!

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