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FutureLearn Closes 2015 on a High: Gains £13M Investment, Wins UX Award, Approaches 3M students

This is a comphrensive run-down on the MOOC-provider FutureLearn. Read this article to find out what they’re like as a company and MOOC platform, and to find out why the future is looking bright for FutureLearn.

FutureLearn‘s parent The Open University has announced that it will invest £13M into FutureLearn over the next three years. This year, 2015, has been a breakout year for this UK-based provider, which was established at the end of 2012 and had its first courses go live in September 2013.

It took FutureLearn sixteen months to reach their first million users, a milestone they attained earlier this year; it took them a further seven months to reach their next million user milestone in September 2015, and now they are are rapidly approaching the three million user mark. Along the way, they also launched what would be the world’s largest single session of a MOOC: 440,000 students signed up for one session of the Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language Tests course taught by the British Council.

Currently FutureLearn boasts approximately 240 courses from around 75 partners round the world.

Best User Experience

Image src: UXUK Awards

Out of all of the MOOC providers, FutureLearn is easily the best-looking platform, and it’s no surprise to us that FutureLearn won the Best User Experience award at the UXUK Awards. It also won in the “Best Education or Learning Experience” category. Earlier this year, FutureLearn introduced visually stunning digital certificates, which we raved about.

There is ample whitespace, simple navigation, and a lack of extraneous lines and borders on the FutureLearn website, which points to a very strong design philosophy (and an additional clue is that FutureLearn employees periodically post design inspirations on their blog).

Social Learning

FutureLearn Mission Statement

FutureLearn describes itself as a “social learning platform.” In an interview with Class Central, FutureLearn CEO Simon Nelson said:

We feel that we just took it up a dial, we made sure that every bit of content on the site, in every course stimulated and encouraged a discussion and that discussion took place alongside the content. We didn’t send you off to a separate environment. We’ve started to take the principles of a social network and bring them into the learning experience as well: the ability to follow people, like each other’s comments, reply directly to each other. We realized we are only at the start of what is possible with social learning …

You can read the entire interview and learn more about FutureLearn here: The MOOC Platform with a Twist: The Emergence of UK-Based FutureLearn.

Alternatively, you can learn more about FutureLearn’s philoshopy and platform by listening to Mike Sharples, the Academic Lead at FutureLearn. He gave a keynote at the Learning With MOOCS II conference earlier this year — watch it below.

Mike Sharples, Academic Lead at FutureLearn | LEARNING WITH MOOCS 2015

FutureLearn at A Glance

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  • More than 60 employees;
  • three million learners from 190 countries, with more than 5.5 million course registrations between them;
  • 70% of users are based outside of the UK, with the majority logging on from the US, China, India, and the Middle East;
  • almost a quarter (24%) of people who start a course on FutureLearn complete the majority of steps and all the assessments;
  • 60% of its learners are female; and
  • it has 240 courses from 75 different partners.
Dhawal Shah Profile Image

Dhawal Shah

Dhawal is the CEO of Class Central, the most popular search engine and review site for online courses and MOOCs. He has completed over a dozen MOOCs and has written over 200 articles about the MOOC space, including contributions to TechCrunch, EdSurge, Quartz, and VentureBeat.

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