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FutureLearn’s 2019: Year in Review

In 2019, FutureLearn received £50M ($65M) in funding and launched Unlimited, an annual subscription for its entire catalog.

The total number of learners on FutureLearn’s platform grew to over 10 million, up from 8.7 million in 2018.

On average, each learner has enrolled in 2.5 courses. 35 million comments have been posted on FutureLearn since the first courses were released in 2013. According to FutureLearn, 60% of their learners are women.

For Class Central‘s complete analysis of FutureLearn’s 2019, keep reading. For our previous years’ analyses, follow the links:

By the Numbers

2017 2018 2019
Courses1 578 736 883
Programs 13 22 35
Academic Certificates2 7 14 17
Degrees2 4 18 23
Learners 7.1m 8.7m 10m

Courses

The number of active courses on FutureLearn increased to 883 (up from 736 last year). Class Central lists more than 1,200 courses, but some were not offered in 2019. While most courses require learners to pay for an upgrade or join FutureLearn Unlimited to receive a certificate, an investigation by Class Central discovered 17 courses that offer a free upgrade and certificate.

All-Time Most Popular Courses

According to FutureLearn, these are the most popular courses by enrollment numbers since their first release:

  1. Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language Tests (British Council)
  2. Exploring English: Language and Culture (British Council)
  3. Inside IELTS: Preparing for the Test with the Experts (Cambridge Assessment English)
  4. English for the Workplace (British Council)
  5. Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance (Monash University)
  6. Start Writing Fiction (The Open University)
  7. A Beginner’s Guide to Writing in English for University Study (University of Reading)
  8. Introduction to Cyber Security (The Open University)
  9. Understanding Language: Learning and Teaching (University of Southampton)
  10. Exploring English: Shakespeare (British Council)

Many have run two or three sessions per year since 2015 or 2016. Apart from Mindfulness and Cyber Security, all the courses explore various aspects of the English language. One course, Inside IELTS, was not available at all in 2019, but managed to maintain its position at number three. FutureLearn didn’t share actual enrollment numbers.

This list has few changes compared to last year, with a slight reshuffle of positions and only three new courses displacing three from last year’s top ten. The British Council leads the list with four courses. A further two are from The Open University. Only one (Mindfulness from Australia’s Monash University) is from outside the UK.

Two of the courses from the list above (#4 and #5) are also part of Class Central’s Top 100 online courses of all time.

2019 Most Popular Courses

Here are the top ten courses released in 2019, by enrollment numbers, according to FutureLearn:

  1. Teaching English: How to Plan a Great Lesson (British Council)
  2. The Tudors (University of Roehampton)
  3. Ideas for a Better World: Leading Change Through Policymaking (British Council)
  4. Understanding ADHD: Current Research and Practice (King’s College London)
  5. Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children (University of Strathclyde)
  6. English Pronunciation in a Global World (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
  7. Diplomacy in the 21st Century (The Open University)
  8. Becoming a Better Music Teacher (The Association Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM))
  9. Cognitive Behavioural Skills to Treat Back Pain: The Back Skills Training (BeST) Programme (University of Oxford)
  10. The IB Extended Essay: Managing your Research Project (University of Leeds)

Two of the top three courses of 2019 were produced by the British Council. The other eight come from eight different institutions, including one from the Netherlands. This list shows more subject diversity than the all-time most popular courses list above.

Programs and Microcredentials

In December 2019, FutureLearn introduced three microcredentials which tie in with the European Common Microcredentials Framework. These microcredentials are single courses of 10-12 weeks which confer university credits (from The Open University) towards a degree or can be used as a stand-alone certificate. Two are postgraduate. The other is undergraduate level. Microcredentials cost between $600 and $900.

FutureLearn also has series of 2-8 courses called Programs. Most also have a final assessment. Final assessments are often tutor-marked and cannot be joined for free. The individual courses may be joined for free, but you must pay if you want a certificate or credit.

Three types of Programs are offered:

  • 12 Programs that can give you credit towards a degree at the relevant university;
  • 15 Programs with a FutureLearn Award as proof of your achievement; and
  • 5 Programs with professional accreditation (for example, a Professional Certificate from the New York Institute of Finance).

Besides these, FutureLearn offers 18 Graduate/Postgraduate Certificates and a Graduate Diploma, which are available to students who already have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) but do not want to undertake a full master’s degree. These qualifications are common in the UK and Commonwealth countries, but not in the US. They are listed on the FutureLearn Degrees page.

Online Degrees

FutureLearn’s stated purpose is to transform access to education as the global demand for adult education continues to rise.

32 listings are found on the degree page. Some offer a choice between a Graduate Certificate and a Master’s Degree. 23 are degrees, mostly masters’ degrees. 18 Certificates (called Postgraduate Certificates in the UK and Graduate Certificates in Australia) and a Graduate Diploma are also found on the FutureLearn degree page.

Degree Name University Degree Type Cost
Bachelor of Arts University of Newcastle

(Australia)

Bachelors NA
BA in International Business (Top Up) Coventry University Bachelors £9,250 (UK/EU students)

£13,250 (International students)

 

MBA with Marketing Specialism Coventry University Masters £16,700
MSc End of Life Studies University of Glasgow Masters £11,800
MSc Global Logistics Coventry University Masters £15,800
Project Management Anglia Ruskin University Masters NA
Digital Learning Leadership Deakin Master’s AUD $14,750
MBA Coventry University Masters £16,700
MBA (for the Cyber Security Management sector) Coventry University Masters £16,700
MBA (for the Healthcare sector) Coventry University Masters £16,700
MBA (for the Sustainable Tourism sector) Coventry University Masters £16,700
MBA with Artificial Intelligence Specialism Coventry University Masters £16,700
MSc Business and Organisational Psychology Coventry University Masters £14,000
MSc Construction Management with BIM Coventry University Masters £15,800
MSc Construction Project and Cost Management Coventry University Masters £15,800
MSc Cyber Security Coventry University Masters £15,800
MSc Disaster Management and Resilience Coventry University Masters £14,000
MSc Emergency Management and Resilience Coventry University Masters £14,000
MSc Nursing Coventry University Masters £14,000
Cyber Security Deakin Masters AUD $35,000
Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action Deakin Masters AUD $12,000
Information Technology Leadership Deakin Masters AUD $18,850
Leadership Deakin Masters AUD $19,250

You can find Class Central’s compilation of MOOC-based Master’s degrees here.

Other 2019 Highlights/Milestones

Fundraising

With a £50M investment, SEEK Group became a joint owner of FutureLearn with The Open University. The new partnership includes contractual arrangements to protect FutureLearn’s academic independence, teaching methods and curricula. SEEK Group also invested in Coursera in 2019.

FutureLearn Unlimited

For the cost of three or four individual course certificates, you can join FutureLearn Unlimited and earn certificates in almost every course in the catalogue for 12 months. I have joined Unlimited and am keeping busy trying to fit in as many courses as I can.

[1] The numbers represent the total number of courses offered in that particular year.

[2] Graduate and Postgraduate Certificates are listed under academic certificates, instead of under degrees.

This article is just one of our 2019 MOOC Roundup Series. Find the whole series here. You’ll discover everything about MOOCs in 2019 — from the most popular classes, to overviews of MOOC platforms developments, to looking at the future of MOOCs.

Comments
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  1. Avatar

    Keith Sanders

    A long time ago in 1975 one enrolled in the OU Technology T100 and the concept of Spaceship Earth. Various topics followed, matched by job progress and eventually into a successful business in water treatment with practical work in the field and consultancy at the highest level. The messages on Global Warming over the past forty five years have fallen amongst thorns. Today the climate changes are calling for drastic interventions. The need for appropriately educated people is so desperately needed to support every country and at international level. This can be achieved by the Internet, cheaply and interestingly. International courses, which stood out in my mind were hosted by Grenoble and Wollongong. A course on soil by Lancaster had a message, cannot wait to start a worm pile, and not just for fishing or feeding The hedgehogs

    Reply

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