As our second story for Get A Life, HOT has uncovered a site that not only provides short term online courses, but offers them for free! Get A Life‘s Jessica Parker introduces FutureLearn, their courses and how they work.
FutureLearn is a site dedicated to providing ‘massive online courses’ – for free. Courses range in subjects and duration and are usually requirement-free to study. Simply log in, select a course, commit and study. FutureLearn is majority owned by The Open University and partners up with numerous universities around the UK.
Unlike various course sites, FutureLearn doesn’t simply list subjects for study. They offer courses on specific topics, such as ‘Start writing fiction’ or ‘Cancer in the 21st Century: the genomic revolution’. No requirements are needed to study, only an interest in the subject area. So in theory, you can study anything from Psychology to Mathematical symbolism. And knowledge on the subject isn’t needed beforehand, they start from scratch with a thorough introduction.
Because of the various topics for study, FutureLearn courses aren’t permanently available. General subjects will instead vary in topics. Each course usually runs between 2 to 8 weeks, depending on course depth, tests and work required. Each week, your course will update, providing the newest tasks. The weeks develop and gradually become more complex as you gauge a clearer understanding. FutureLearn partners up with universities to offer the best education in their specialist subjects, putting you in the capable hands of experienced lecturers.
The following list shows the current courses in progress. For a full list of 2014 courses, visit FutureLearn.
- ‘Getting a grip on Mathematical symbolism’ Loughborough University.
- ‘Identity, conflict and public space: contest and transformation’ Queen’s University Belfast.
- ‘Start writing fiction’ The Open University.
- ‘Good brain, bad brain: Drug origins’ University of Birmingham.
The only downside to all this is that FutureLearn courses don’t provide qualifications. They are purely a learning platform to gain skills either in your current industry or in an area of interest. This being said, the skills you can gain from joining a course can be of value. FutureLearn are not specific to industry professionals, anyone can join a course and gain the same valuable knowledge. The open chat allows a mix of learners to exchange ideas and receive help.
Below is a list of benefits of joining FutureLearn:
- Gain skills and knowledge in your current industry
- Receive an introduction to a specific subject
- Expand your current interests
- Refresh your mind of the basics
FutureLearn would mostly benefit those: currently studying; aiming to study; in employment; have an interest in the course; those generally wanting to gain and improve their knowledge.
The site itself is very simple to use. Find the list of courses, which are arranged in date order (some may have already started). When you click on more, you will find a short summary of the course, a video introducing the course, the start date, course duration, hours per week needed, and an option to join. It’s as simple as that. Obviously, then sign up, create a profile and wait to receive an email with more information. As you log in each week, the week of study will be high-lighted along the top, whilst the tasks run down the page. When you complete a task, scroll to the bottom and select ‘mark as complete’.
For further information contact either FutureLearn or HOT.
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