From lessons in cyber security to secrets of the night sky, 93-year-old pensioner Roy Palmer has enjoyed more than 60 free courses online to keep up learning in his later years.
The Cheltenham care home resident has gained knowledge and been entertained by the wealth of courses he’s taken on the OU’s home of free learning OpenLearn and on its partner site FutureLearn, the leading social learning platform.
For almost ten years Roy, a popular resident at the Whittington House Nursing Home, has spent his time studying free learning courses across the two sites.
Roy’s a born learner and teacher
The variation of intensity and stop-start flexibility of both platforms means he can dip into learning for short or long periods of time, depending on the course and his time.
A former OU maths graduate, Roy is a born learner and teacher. He worked as a lecturer for most of his life at Gloucestershire College, having gained his first degree in Engineering at the University of Nottingham.
“Some years later I realised these short courses were available from the OU and I found them very interesting and just started doing more and more. They’re so engaging.
“Then I discovered FutureLearn where I can take courses by lots of different universities, and I can join the discussion groups with comments by other learners. I look forward to that bit, you can learn so much from the comments.”
Roy has enjoyed many different courses across a broad spectrum of subjects on OpenLearn, ranging from an introduction to ecosystems, and space study with In the Night Sky: Orion to history courses such as ones about the Romans and Hadrian’s Wall. On FutureLearn he’s found learning produced by a choice of universities and other institutions worldwide. Here he’s explored more astronomical learning with the Mysteries of the Universe as well as Classic Detective Fiction and one on World War 1 written by the OU.
A widower, Roy lost his dear wife Lilia in July 2020 to Covid. He was fortunate to survive himself but having earlier suffered a stroke, it means he is now much less mobile.
“I can’t move about anymore, but I can occupy myself through all this great study. If I’d not had the stroke I’d still be at home cutting the grass!
“I would recommend it to anyone, it’s amazing and free! It’s not as if I am learning for a career, I am learning for my own interest.”
Whittington House Lead Wellbeing Co-ordinator Fausta Scarano said Roy is well known for keeping himself busy and stimulated. He also reads extensively and watches films and documentaries.
“We’re very proud to have him around,” said Fausta.
The OU’s Jane Roberts, Head of OpenLearn commented:
“The OpenLearn team was delighted to hear about Roy, and his passion for learning with us over the years. It just goes to show that age is no barrier to discovering new subjects and passions and that’s exactly what OpenLearn is here for – free learning for all. Our congratulations and best wishes to Roy and here’s to him enjoying many more of our free courses.”
Next up for Roy, he is about to embark on his first foray into the benefits of mindfulness with a three-hour study course by Monash University on FutureLearn.
Find out more
OpenLearn hosts over 15,000 hours of online courses and content which are offered to all, free of charge. Around 10 million people visit this site every year. With more than 1,000 short courses (varying from 1-1000 hours of study), learners can explore a vast array of subjects, get inspiration, build skills and confidence, and earn recognition if they wish (via badged open courses), all for free. Added to that there are thousands of articles, quizzes, and interactive games.
FutureLearn is the UK’s number one social learning platform and marketplace with 15 million learners from every country in the world. FutureLearn delivers life changing learning through online, on-demand, and social courses across a wide range of subjects from education to healthcare, climate action and public policy.
FutureLearn’s community-based social learning approach brings together educators and learners from around the world to harness the power of connection, while our celebrated digital platform ensures learners have a seamless experience and get the most from their learning in order to develop skills and achieve their personal and professional goals throughout their lives.