MOOCs started out with a structure parallel to college classroom courses, with a start date and an end date, and specific deadlines for assignments/homework. But over time they have moved towards a self paced or always available model, a trend Class Central highlighted as far back as 2015.
Session-based can help learners stick to the schedule, but self-paced can be more convenient.
Coursera and edX have both moved to a “start today” format for many courses and now FutureLearn has joined the movement.
At Class Central, we noticed that FutureLearn has been leaving their courses open for enrollment well beyond the end date of the course. Now they have formally adopted the model of having courses available to enroll throughout the year, instead of multiple separate cohorts.
Since the release of self-paced ExpertTracks in early 2021, around 60% of the FutureLearn catalog has moved to self-paced, with more courses in the pipeline. FutureLearn’s premium microcredentials and some selected MOOCs will remain in scheduled sessions, to retain cohesion for the cohort.
Some courses have suffered from lower engagement in the forums in self-paced mode. It will be interesting to see if this happens in the more prominent discussions on FutureLearn.