Aberdeen joins online learning community to inspire learning for life

The University of Aberdeen will today (June 9) join an innovative online learning community that enables people to undertake free short courses over the internet.

The institution has established a partnership with FutureLearn – the first UK-led platform for leading education providers to come together to provide quality, higher education courses to anyone, which can be accessed from anywhere in the world using a range of different devices.

The University of Aberdeen will launch two online courses – known as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on futurelearn.com in the first nine months, focusing on the big issues in society such as food and nutrition, international development and sustainability.

The free courses run for six to eight weeks and students are expected to put in up to six hours of study per week.

The weeks are made up of different activities based around the subject of study such as a video, article, discussion, test, quiz or assignment.

FutureLearn was initiated by The Open University in December 2012. The website went live in September 2013 as social learning platform, connecting learners from all over the globe who learn by interacting with each other and with globally renowned academics.

The University of Aberdeen’s membership brings FutureLearn’s total to 38 partners, comprising of 35 world-leading higher- and specialist education institutions and three cultural organisations – the British Council, British Library and the British Museum.

Joining the University of Aberdeen as partners today (June 9) are two universities from Korea - Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) and Yonsei University, the University of Oslo, the University of Cape Town, and the University of London’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Royal Holloway.

Each partner produces MOOCs which span a range of subject areas.  Courses currently available range from Obesity and its Causes and Forensic Psychology, to Starting a Business and Preparing for Uni, to Hadrian’s Wall and Understanding the Referendum.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, said: “The University of Aberdeen is at the forefront of teaching, learning and discovery, as it has been for 500 years.

“The University undertakes a wide variety of cultural and public engagement activities and the FutureLearn platform will enable us to take this engagement to a new level, showcasing our excellent research and teaching to people around the world.

“FutureLearn will enable us to provide accessible learning opportunities for life, thought-provoking conversation and to celebrate progress, and we are looking forward to planning our first MOOC.”

Professor Peter McGeorge, Vice-Prinicpal for Teaching and Learning added: “The University of Aberdeen has acknowledged expertise across multiple areas of research and a reputation for high quality education and innovation.

“The University has much to offer students seeking to make use of online study and we are delighted that our partnership with FutureLearn will allow us to open this to a global new audience.”

Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn, said, “As our free online courses continue to attract signups from around the world, it’s important that we become more and more reflective of our global learner base. I’m delighted that these prestigious universities have selected FutureLearn as the platform for their free online courses. The benefits to our learners are undeniable; offering access to a growing collective of world-leading academics and centres of higher education.”