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Open University pilots first paid course on FutureLearn in its 50th anniversary year

The Open University (OU) launches its first paid postgraduate course on its online social learning platform FutureLearn in its 50th anniversary year, paving the way for similar moves to come.

The pilot will see the first qualification, a Post Graduate certificate in Open and Distance Education starting in February, with registrations now open.

FutureLearnThis initiative aims to offer learners a completely new experience; combining the OU’s expertise in Technology Enhanced Learning with FutureLearn’s market-leading delivery model.

It will also allow the OU to evaluate the opportunities that come from using the FutureLearn platform, including capitalising on its global reach and the potential to reduce costs..

The qualification will give learners hands-on experience of educational technologies and explore issues related to online learning. It is aimed at teachers in higher and further education as well as those conducting training in the workplace, who are keen to maximise the benefits of online learning.

Chance to build practical skills in digital learning

Using innovative e-learning tools, learners will build practical skills in digital learning, teaching and training as well as taking part in critiques and discussions with world-class researchers and peers around the globe on current and future learning technologies.

The postgraduate qualification will feature a new “try it first” option allowing learners to take component programmes of Open and Distance Education — valued programmes in their own right — before registering for the full qualification.

The postgraduate certificate, which is conducted over 35 weeks and features four programmes on FutureLearn, is awarded on successful completion of the OU’s module: Technology-Enhanced Learning: Foundations and Futures.

Four further Postgraduate qualifications have been selected to follow this pilot, from October in: finance, advanced healthcare practice, development management and human resources.

Jonathan Nicholls, University Secretary of the OU and Chair of the Board of FutureLearn said:

The OU has always been a home for innovation and inclusivity in education and this collaboration with FutureLearn gives us the opportunity to do that to an even greater degree.

Supported distance learning is the OU’s core business and this programme will give more learners the latest tools, and the ability to swap ideas and collaborate through FutureLearn’s unique social learning environment. For the OU, we hope it will offer us new insight and allow us to continue to innovate and pioneer new forms of distance-learning education as we enter our 50th Anniversary Year.

Simon Nelson, CEO, of FutureLearn said:

Today’s announcement marks the latest chapter in the evolution of FutureLearn’s relationship with its owner, The Open University, and it is fitting that it should coincide with such an important anniversary for the OU. It’s an occasion which reminds us how far higher education has come since the OU’s founding in 1969 — and how quickly it continues to change … From our first few ‘MOOCs’, to the portfolio of short courses, accredited programmes, and fully online degrees we have today, we have come a long way since our inception with the OU in 2012.

We’ve learnt a lot in the process too and, now as the leading online social learning platform in Europe, it is particularly exciting to be bringing the OU’s debut postgraduate qualification to FutureLearn on the subject of online and distance education.

In establishing FutureLearn, The OU bought its pedagogical expertise and experience of open distance education to other institutions. Now we’re passing on the baton to learners who stand to benefit from that same pedigree.

The Open University, was established by Royal Charter on 23 April 1969 and begins a year of activity to mark its 50th Anniversary in 2019.

FutureLearn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the OU and is the leading social learning platform, formed in December 2012. It is now the largest online learning platform in Europe with over eight million people signed up worldwide. It delivers courses from over 150 leading universities and cultural institutions across the globe.

About Author

Christine works in the Media Relations team within the Communications Unit at The Open University. She is an experienced BBC journalist, sub-editor and news editor and has a background in regional newspapers. After moving to PR she worked as a press officer for the Zoological Society of London. She has a BSc in Social Sciences with Politics from The Open University and focuses on stories from the Faculty of Social Science and widening access in HE. Chris swims regularly and has a pet Tortoise called Lightning.

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