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OU joins FutureLearn on microcredentials launch

The Open University is among some of the most innovative universities in the world launching seven new microcredentials on its part-owned site, the leading social learning platform.


This first suite of microcredentials includes six partners from the United Kingdom and Ireland, Australia and the USA. These founding microcredential partners joining forces in this exciting digital venture are from The Open University, Dublin City University, Deakin University, The University of California, Irvine Division of Continuing Education (DCE), Monash University, and Queensland University of Technology.

The move to launch microcredentials – accredited, online courses designed to help learners build specialised skills relevant to their career – comes in direct response to demand from both partners and learners.

Microcredentials support lifelong learning

It is widely reported that there are skills gaps, that graduates entering the workplace don’t always have the skills that employers expect, and that jobs for life rarely exist any more so people need to reskill and upskill in order to meet the requirements of today’s workplace.

For example, The Global Learner Survey from Pearson late last year reported that the 40-year career is gone, replaced by life-long learning and diverse career paths, and highlighted that their respondents said the world was shifting to a model where people participate in education over a lifetime (55% in the UK and US, and 60% in Australia).

Both FutureLearn and its partners recognise these changes in the workplace and are offering microcredentials to enable learners to stay relevant and marketable.

CEO of FutureLearn, Simon Nelson
CEO of FutureLearn, Simon Nelson

Simon Nelson, Chief Executive of FutureLearn, commented:

“Microcredentials are what every partner wants to talk to me about. We can all see that the workplace is changing, learners want, and need, to be able to learn more skills and universities are brilliantly placed to help them do that.

“Our partners are also working more closely with industry partners on these microcredentials, The Open University and Cisco, being a great example of this. We expect to see such collaboration emerging as a clear trend in the next year or two as industry takes responsibility for upskilling its employees.”

Josie Fraser
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of The Open University

Josie Fraser, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of The Open University which is launching three microcredentials on the platform including Cyber Security Operations (Cisco CCNA), Teacher Training: Embedding Mental Health in the Curriculum, and Digital Photography: Creating a Professional Portfolio, commented:

“The Open University believes that a lifelong learning culture can play a huge role in economic success. Microcredentials can be key to learning a new skill quickly in order to reskill; supporting people to adapt to the modern high tech workplace.

“Learners are able to update their skills with accredited, quality courses, bringing employers on board at the same time. We are very excited to be among the first providers to offer this with FutureLearn.”

Dr Rebecca Ferguson, Microcredentials academic lead at the OU, added:

“Microcredentials are especially useful for people who want to develop their work-related skills. The link between microcredentials and employers is key – a good example is The Open University’s Cyber Security Operations microcredential which is endorsed by CISCO, a worldwide leader in IT, Networking and cyber security solutions.”

Earlier this year, FutureLearn announced it’s involvement with the Common Microcredential Framework (CMF) and these microcredentials adhere to its criteria of requiring 100-150 hours of part-time study, generally over 10-12 weeks. Most microcredentials are worth 10-15 UK credits, 4-6 ECTS credits, or 2-3 US credits.

The microcredentials launching today include:

Cyber Security Operations (Cisco CCNA), The Open University, endorsed by the Cisco Networking Academy starts on 16 March where learners can upskill in cyber security operations. Students will learn how cyber security professionals respond to an imminent, active or recent cyber threat, and explore how to go about resolving attacks and completing legal investigations of any potential cybercrime. Learners will develop skills using up-to-date experience from the internationally recognised Cisco CCNA Cyber Security operations certification.

Teacher Training: Embedding Mental Health in the Curriculum, The Open University, starts on 30 March where learners will develop skills to design inclusive teaching, learning and assessment activities that enhance student mental health and wellbeing.

Digital Photography: Creating a Professional Portfolio, The Open University, endorsed by the Royal Photographic Society, the UK’s leading photography organisation starts on 30 March will allow learners to navigate the fast-moving technological developments in digital photography and build a professional portfolio they’re proud of.

About Author

Christine is a manager in the Media Relations team within the Marcomms Unit at the OU. 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 is doing an MA in Philosophy with The Open University; she focuses on FASS stories and widening access in HE. Chris swims regularly and has a pet Tortoise called Lightning.

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