In December 2012, eleven British universities joined with the Open University to launch a British-based MOOC provider: FutureLearn. The first courses, from 23 founding universities, appeared in October 2013.
My first FutureLearn course was Start Writing Fiction in late 2014, when FutureLearn had fewer than 700,000 learners. The one million learners milestone was reached in February 2015. By mid-2016, the number had grown to four million. Last week, FutureLearn announced it now has ten million learners and more than 175 institutional partners from all around the world. More than seven of every ten learners live outside the UK, which in the 2017-2018 academic year had 2.3 million students enrolled in higher education. This means that FutureLearn’s MOOC enrollments are four times the number of higher education students in the UK.
Although most FutureLearn offerings are single courses with an optional paid certificate available, some courses are grouped into programs and degrees.
I have taken 30 FutureLearn courses and earned two certificates since 2014. Recently, I joined FutureLearn Unlimited, and plan to earn several more certificates in the next 12 months. 1257 courses are listed on Class Central, although not all are currently available.
Social Aspects and Comments
It’s easy to post comments on FutureLearn course pages. Instead of separate discussion boards, comments can be added to almost every step of each course. Some steps encourage learners to discuss particular aspects of the course material.
More than 35 million comments have been posted, which is an average of 3.5 comments per user. Since I try to make the most of the limited social aspects of online learning, I write plenty of comments, including responding to those of my classmates. I’m way beyond that 3.5 average. I am also one of the 60% female members of FutureLearn.
Here is a brief history of the growth of FutureLearn, as documented through Class Central articles: