Futurelearn - with a website that is so sparse that it looks to have been "scrambled" (and, via @DougClow, the company was only incorporated on Monday of this week) - seems to be UK Higher Education's eventual response to Coursera, Udacity, MITx and their siblings.
From what I can glean Futurelearn will be driven from and by the Open University, led by Simon Nelson (an ex-BBC executive); and from 2013 it will offer free learning from a slew of English, Welsh, and Scottish universities including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St Andrews and Warwick.
Here is an excerpt from the briefing sheet on the OU web site [DOC]:
Futurelearn Limited will bring together a range of free, open, online courses from leading UK universities, in the same place and under the same brand. The courses will be clear, simple to use and accessible. Futurelearn will not replicate class-based learning online but reimagine it, realising the potential offered by digital technologies. The Company will be able to draw on The Open University’s unparalleled expertise in delivering distance learning and in pioneering open education resources. These will enable Futurelearn to present a single, coherent entry point for students to the best of the UK’s online education content. Futurelearn will increase the accessibility of higher education, opening up a wide range of new online courses and learning materials to students across the UK and in the rest of the world.
Links, which I have begun to update, some of which involve rather lazy reuse of Futurelearn's own media release:
- UK reactions in 2011/early 2012 to MOOCs - Rhodri Marsden in the Independent, 12/9/2011; Emma Barnett in The Daily Telegraph, 18/8/2011; mine, 7/11/2011; John Naughton's Observer piece, 5/2/2012.
- About Futurelearn - Daily Telegraph; BBC; TechCrunch; launch media release [PDF]; supporting material from the Open University; posts by OU staff members Tony Hirst and Doug Clow; Times Higher; JISC; Guardian; Financial Times (registration required); Kings College London; The Higher Education Chronicle.