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What Kind Of Online Learner Are You?

FutureLearn grouped seven learner archetypes into three types: Work and Study, Personal Life, and Leisure.

In 2018, the MOOC platform FutureLearn published a series of articles exploring who its learners are. Based on a survey of 7,000 learners, FutureLearn’s User Experience Research Team identified seven archetypes, corresponding to seven patterns of behavior among users of FutureLearn.

The FutureLearn UX Research Team grouped these archetypes into three types: Work and Study, Personal Life, and Leisure. Work and Study describes people who are primarily on the site to improve their career prospects. Personal Life archetypes are using FutureLearn to address aspects of their personal lives. Leisure archetypes are pursuing hobbies or a love of learning.

The seven archetypes are summarized below. Do you see yourself in any of them?

Work and Study Archetypes: Advancers, Explorers, and Preparers

Advancers: Advancers are working in their field of choice and are seeking to pick up additional work-related skills. They are primarily in the age range of 26-35 and are likely to purchase upgraded course certificates.

Explorers: These learners are considering a career change and are using online courses to evaluate the options. They are also mainly in the age range of 26-35 and are slightly less likely than Advancers to purchase course certificates.

Preparers: Preparers are younger (19-35) and, as the name suggests, are either preparing for a chosen career field or have recently started working in that field. These learners are using online courses to pick up skills that will help them stand out. Like Advancers, they are likely to purchase course certificates.

Personal Life Archetypes: Fixers and Flourishers

Fixers: These learners are evenly distributed across a wide range of ages (19-75). They are using online courses to manage a personal life situation, such as their health or the health of a loved one, a political situation, or a social issue. They are generally uninterested in certification.

Flourishers: These learners are using online courses for personal development. They are the group most likely to take multiple courses.

Leisure Archetypes: Hobbyists and Vitalizers

Hobbyists: Among Hobbyists, a large portion are retired and fall between the ages of 56-75. These learners take courses to support their personal interests and projects.

Vitalizers: For this group, learning itself is their hobby. Like Hobbyists, many are retired. Vitalizers have wide ranging interests and may take courses on a diversity of topics.

The researchers emphasized that it common for there to be overlap among these types and that few people identified with only one archetype.

What about you? What kind of learner are you? Let us know in the comments.

Laurie Pickard Profile Image

Laurie Pickard

I got into MOOCs when I started a project to replicate a traditional MBA using free online courses. My blog at NoPayMBA.com resulted in a book called Don't Pay For Your MBA.

Comments 8

  1. Pat Bowden

    I’m a Vitalizer, although I nearly chose Flourisher. Learning is definitely my hobby, even though I also use online learning for personal development.

  2. Ronny De Winter

    I recognize myself in about half of these archetypes 🙂

    • joshua

      Am a preparer , I hope to find cheap online masters course, around 8k


      It’s because they’re not a real partition of the universe of learners. Still, some food for thought! These are definitely some expression of the diversity you can find amongst MOOC learners though.

  3. Bridget O'Reilly

    Do you have statistics on how many are in each group?

  4. Dr Priti

    A flourisher and a vitalizer!

  5. Aprille I.

    Am a fixer and flourisher! I see soo many abbreviations and am uneducated as to their meaning. Honestly, I do not know what mooc stands for!? So. Forgive my shortcomings. Please!


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