The Open University’s (OU) free learning site, OpenLearn, is celebrating a milestone after clocking up 100 million visitors in the 15 years since it was launched.
Established as a trailblazing open educational resource, OpenLearn has successfully broken down barriers to education, with over a thousand courses and 15,000 hours of educational interactives, videos and articles.
OpenLearn creates relevant, topical content quickly, and has attracted a wide audience from furloughed workers looking to upskill, students supporting their own learning, children struggling with home-schooling to healthcare professionals searching for advice.
During the first lockdown in March 2020, average daily visits to the site rose from 40,000 to a regular 160,000 per a day. With bite-size learning on every subject from ancient Greek to renewable energy, OpenLearn has worked with various partner organisations, including the UK Government on ‘The Skills Toolkit’, a website dedicated to helping people build skills in the wake of the pandemic.
Most recently, OpenLearn collaborated with the Department for Work & Pensions and Job Centre Plus (JCP) to help jobseekers develop valuable skills needed to secure employment. The programme of courses on communication, decision making, and leadership are now being actively promoted by JCP career coaches across its 750 branches in Wales, England and Scotland.
In 2021, the most popular content was:
- 57 genders (and none for me?) – part 2 (article)
- Do you have a photographic memory? (interactive)
- MSE’s Academy of Money (badged course*)
- Introduction to bookkeeping and accounting (free course)
- Understanding autism (badged course)
- Supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing (badged course)
- Everyday maths – level 1 (badged course)
- What is technology? (article)
- Forensic psychology (badged course)
- The science of nutrition and healthy eating (badged course)
- Introduction to child psychology (free course)
- DIY: generate your own electricity (article)
- Hitler’s rise and fall: timeline (article)
- A brief introduction to the Chinese education system (article)
- English: skills for learning (badged course)
Vice-Chancellor of the OU, Professor Tim Blackman, commented:
“OpenLearn has come a long way since it started in 2006, with extraordinary growth in visitors and learners. It is a learning lifeline for millions of people across the UK and across the world. There are over 1,000 free courses on a huge range of subjects as well as over 15,000 articles, interactive activities, podcasts and videos.
“This month we are celebrating reaching 100 million visitors, issuing our two-millionth free certificate and awarding the two-hundred-thousandth digital badge.”
Head of OpenLearn, Dr Patrina Law, added:
“OpenLearn remains integral to the OU’s mission of being ‘open to people, places, methods and ideas’ and has helped to cement the university’s reputation as a global pioneer in distance learning. By improving access, building confidence and eliminating cost, OpenLearn and the OU can reach a greater number of people with life-changing learning that meets their needs and enriches society.”
To find out more about OpenLearn, please visit: http://www.openlearn.com
*A free OU digital badge is awarded for completing all sections of a badged course. Badges demonstrate interest in a subject, evidence of professional development and a commitment to studies.