We’re living in unprecedented times. Coronavirus continues to affect lives all over the world and its impact on the education sector has been keenly felt, with university campuses and schools worldwide having to shut their doors to staff and students alike.
At FutureLearn, our purpose is to transform access to education. Never has the need been so great to support HEI’s in transforming that access, as many students who would usually be sat in their classrooms find themselves dispersed, in different timezones, and possibly with little access to quality hardware or the internet. As just one of our responses to the ongoing pandemic, FutureLearn Campus – an initiative planned to launch in late 2020 – was rapidly released in early March to all of our existing university partners at no additional fee.
What is FutureLearn Campus?
FutureLearn Campus allows HEIs to open up any short courses that they have already created on the FutureLearn platform, for free, to their current students and staff – on any device, and wherever in the world they are. FutureLearn, as a global social learning platform, can support students at scale, offering a connected social experience which is extremely effective at encouraging interactions between peers, educators and support staff.
Short courses can be opened up to the public, enabling university students to study as part of a global learning community. Or alternatively, courses can be run with closed student cohorts, enabling universities to create new tailored courses, or adapt existing high-quality courses to their own student or staff needs.
With FutureLearn Campus students and staff can sign in easily using their university account to access free courses asynchronously and flexibly.
Supporting universities moving to distance learning
We know one challenge many universities are facing right now is integration, and FutureLearn Campus can be used alongside universities’ own synchronous tools such as Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, or Adobe Connect.
FutureLearn Campus also complements existing Virtual Learning Environments and Learning Management Systems, and enables the delivery of structured distance learning to students on any device wherever they are in the world.
Putting FutureLearn Campus to the test
The first partner to sign up to FutureLearn Campus was the University of Michigan, ranked 21st in the world and with 42,982 FTE students. The University of Leeds has also used FutureLearn Campus to make courses available to their 40,000+ students, and launched a Campus-only version of “Preparing to Learn Online at University” alongside the public version of the course. There is also a public version of the course available on the open FutureLearn platform. Several other partner universities in the UK, Europe, APAC, and the US are currently looking into how they can also give millions of their students and staff access to FutureLearn Campus.
FutureLearn Campus is not just a short term solution for current challenges, but a valuable resource over the longer term that will allow universities worldwide to open up their virtual doors to today’s globalised, digitally-driven student base, while delivering lifelong learning opportunities to staff.
We are already working on the launch of the next version of FutureLearn Campus, which we hope will continue to benefit all of our partners, their students and their staff. More information on this to come after the Easter break!