Students will be able to study free of charge at many of Britain’s leading universities, as a result of the new initiative of the Open University, that has set up Futurelearn Ltd
They will offer millions students across the world, a wide range of courses, possibly with members of the Russell Group – the top research universities.
Eleven top UK universities are joining this free internet courses in a bid to catch up with the elite US institutions that have led the way online.
Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London,
Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St Andrews and Warwick, along with UK distance-learning organization The Open University (OU) have partnered with FutureLearn.
The courses are created on the US phenomenon ‘massive open online courses’ (MOOC), which are attracting millions of users across the globe, being extremely popular in emerging economies like Brazil, India and China, that are a key market place for UK universities.
The UK higher education industry, which is worth £14 billion, is in the list of the top five export earners for Britain.
Partner universities will be responsible for their own content while the Open University, which has been providing distance learning courses since 1971, will assist with course delivery and infrastructure.
The courses will not issue the traditional degrees, but will be dedicated in helping the education democratization. Unlocking institutions to the world will contribute to the employment outcomes, users will be able to upgrade and gain new skills, all contributing to the overall skills increasing.
The interests from the other universities in UK to join the Open University initiative will be announced in 2013.
With these activities the dynamic online learning space will get a little more crowded. Details of the course content that will be offered by FutureLearn:
• will bring together a spectar of free, open, online courses from leading UK universities, that will be clear, simple to use, and accessible.
• will draw on the Open University’s expertise in delivering distance learning and pioneering open education resources to provide unified, coherent offer from all of its partners.
• will not replicate class-based learning online, but will reimagine it, realizing the potential offered by digital technologies.
The announced MOOCs will repackage the courses its own course materials to work as apps and technology expertise from the FutureLearn.
FutureLearn will be an independent entity, majority owned by the Open University, which is putting up the seed funding and providing the technology.
Most probably there will be several business model,that will depend on the course with each university determining its own models, with possible examples being pay for certification/degree, or pay to take an invigilated exam in your local area, or some kind of subscription fee model.
MOOCs are an enormous development in higher education, with a potential to bring about long-lasting change to the high education sector
FutureLearn will take this proud heritage and work with some of Britain’s best-known universities to write the next chapter in the story of British higher education.