Futurelearn will carry courses from 12 UK institutions (see list), which will be available to students across the world free of charge.
It will follow in the footsteps of US providers including Coursera, edX and Udacity, which offer around 230 Moocs from around 40 mostly US-based institutions to more than 3 million students.
The new platform will operate as an independent company, majority owned by The Open University, although details of other investors have yet to be confirmed.
Tony Hirst has compiled a list of articles (or churnalism as it appears to be). The logo of FutureLearn appears to be the byproduct of 2 minutes of creativity “let’s type the name and then change the font colour on half”. At least they’re experimenting rather than joining existing initiatives.
In July this year, I complained about the lack of vision by Canadian universities with regard to open online courses:
Canadian universities are squandering an opportunity to reply meaningfully to Coursera and EDx. I’m aware of at least two major Canadian universities that are negotiating to join Coursera. Why give not develop your own? Why not create an active experiment in a Canadian context that allows you to build your understanding of emerging learning models?
By joining an existing project, you largely give away the knowledge building potential for Canadian universities in their own experimentation. Instead of a diversity of projects, where Coursera/EDx benefit from what our universities do (and vice versa), we are doing what got us into this position of innovation laggards in the first place: neglecting the development of vision by taking an easier more politically palatable route.
Universities simply don’t have time to respond to changes with multi-year consultations. Vision and action are required to stay relevant. I’m encouraged that UK has seen the need to move forward with an initiative that provides a UK spin on open courses.
I’m more dismayed now, however, than I was in July and the anemic vision and response by Canadian universities. Higher education is facing a changed landscape. Even if MOOCs disappear from the landscape in the next few years, the change drivers that gave birth to them will continue to exert pressure and render slow plodding systems obsolete (or, perhaps more accurately, less relevant). If MOOCs are eventually revealed to be a fad, the universities that experiment with them today will have acquired experience and insight into the role of technology in teaching and learning that their conservative peers won’t have. It’s not only about being right, it’s about experimenting and playing in the front line of knowledge. Researchers do this in their labs regularly. Unfortunately, the logic of being leading edge experimenters doesn’t seem to translate into the university system/model itself.
Canada, your move.