FFE Magazine

No More excuse not going to University in UK

by FFE EU News staff

Britain has challenged the United States’ dominance of online higher education with the launching of “FutureLearn.”

21 schools in the UK, including Trinity College Dublin and Monash University in Australia will soon participate in the country’s first foray into Moocs or massive open online courses. Universities in Birmingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Nottingham, Warwick, Bristol, Reading and Southampton have already offered their services. The British Library, British Museum and British Council will also help to make materials available for students.

With Moocs, students can access their courses through their computers and mobile phones. Universities minister David Willetts said that the project can “revolutionise conventional models of formal education.” He added that FutureLearn will keep Britain ahead in the race to deliver education in global markets.

Chief education adviser to Pearson and former Downing Street adviser Sir Michael Barber said that “FutureLearn represents an important step in realising this change and seizing the opportunities technology offers in creating a broader, deeper and more exciting education system.”

The project’s experimental phase will start this year, with 8 courses up for registration. Students who plan to take a course are not required to pass through formal qualifications. Certificates, however, will not be available during this phase.

FutureLearn chief executive Simon Nelson said that the project will create a supportive online community that minimises the “solitary experience” of online learning.

The universities are hoping that the first phase, soon to be expanded to include 20 courses, will attract people who want to follow university-level courses at their own pace. They are also hoping that the online courses will eventually attract students to their campus courses.

David Bell, vice-chancellor of Reading University, added, “Making courses accessible online, on mobiles and tablets means that people can fit their studying around their lives, rather than their lives around study.”

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