Monday, September 23, 2013

Globalization of MOOCs: Futurelearn announces first courses

When you think of MOOCs, edX, Coursera and Udacity come to mind, but global online education is taking off.

Futurelearn, a coalition of 20 UK and international universities, the British Museum, British Library and British Council, has just launched with 20 courses starting this fall and winter. The courses are 6 or 7 weeks long and require 2 or 3 hours per week.

I checked out their "beta" Web site and few things caught my attention.

Their slogan is "Learning for life," indicating a focus on students who are not seeking credit and degrees. That audience may turn out to be more important than traditional university students -- more lucrative and more beneficial to society.

They also show interest in training for job-related skills. One of the initial courses is Dental photography in practice.

Their tagline is Enjoy free online courses from leading UK and international universities, indicating a global focus. In addition to international universities, they will be serving international students. One of their partners is The British Council, the UK international cultural organization, which offers classes (online and off) and arranges cultural and educational exchanges and events. The British Council has offices in 116 nations and they will no doubt help with marketing and spreading the word.

Futurelearn is later to the game than the big three U. S. MOOC providers, but the game is just beginning -- the technology, pedagogy and place in society of online education are all changing rapidly. Furthermore, FutureLearn is a private company wholly owned by the Open University, which has been doing distance education (online and off) since 1971.

I've enrolled in a course and am anxious to see their platform and pedagogy. Stay tuned.

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