Learning for Life
Monday, December 2, 2013
FutureLearn is the first UK-led provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), wholly owned by the Open University. Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn, talks to Aaditi Isaac about the venture
What brings you to India?
I am here to learn all about the market. It has been six weeks for us since we have launched massive open online courses on FutureLearn. I want to understand how higher education works in India. We are here to talk to government bodies, corporate sector and we are looking for partnerships with Indian universities. We already have 26 universities, who are partnering with us for the online courses, out of which 23 top universities are our partners and we have three international universities and we want to add more partners. We want to connect Indian universities with the international universities and vice-versa. We are keen to target the Indian market.
What is the focus of the content?
Our content partners are British Council and the British Library. They have developed the English language course. The courses range from six-10 weeks. We have launched a course in branding. We have programmes in web science, psychology, history, psychology, programming of mobile games, dental photography, forensic sciences, among others. The science, technology and engineering programmes are very popular. The courses have been designed in an interactive way, so as to engage with users. Use of videos, combining traditional and modern skills will help learners through the web.
What benefit would Indian students get by taking these courses?
It is not possible for all students to go abroad and study. We are providing high quality education to students at their doorstep. There is an emphasis on social learning because students can see and hear what fellow students are learning and can share insights. They can study at their own pace. These courses can be taken by anyone — a school student, a college students, a professional, who wants to increase his knowledge, etc. The registration is free. MOOCs ensure high quality learning and can be a good tool to develop and facilitate learning. We hope to create more vocational opportunities through these courses. British telecom is sponsoring and co-creating courses in engineering and telecom, which they would like their staff to study. I feel that MOOCs could transform the training culture in corporates.