Learn new skills online with top educators
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Whether you want to develop as a professional or discover a new hobby, there's an online course for that. You can even take your learning further with online programs and degrees.
Join millions of people from around the world learning together. Online learning is as easy and natural as chatting with a group of friends.
Learn with experts
Meet educators from top universities and cultural institutions, who'll share their experience through videos, articles, quizzes and discussions.
The power of social learning: an effective way to learn
FutureLearn offers you a powerful new way to learn online. Every course has been designed according to principles of effective learning, through storytelling, discussion, visible learning, and using community support to celebrate progress.
Learning through storytelling
Each partner university has designed a complete learning experience, presented by leading academics in their field. Rather than broadcast long classroom lectures, ideas are introduced via high-quality videos and articles. You can then discuss what you’ve learned, testing your new knowledge with interactive quizzes that offer helpful responses and the opportunity to try again if an answer is wrong. Every course tells a story, step by step, with challenges and helpful tips along the way, to test and build your understanding.
Discussion for learning
We learn best when we share and debate ideas with fellow learners, to understand their different experiences and perspectives and to fill the gaps in our own knowledge. But not everyone likes being social, so rather than sending our learners off to separate discussion forums, you can add your comments alongside the content.
You can start by reading what other people have to say about the topic, and then join in when you’re ready. If you particularly like a comment, you can choose to follow its author so that you can easily find the people and comments that are of the most interest to you.
We’ll be building on these concepts of ‘discussion in context’ and ‘following’ over the coming months so that social learning feels less like a forced conversation and more like a chat with friends about your ideas and what you’ve learned.
One way to enhance learning is to make the process visible so that you know what is coming next, where you are in the course and how far you have come. The To-Do list gives you an overview of the course, showing the activities for each week, and keeping a record of what you’ve completed.
The profile page provides a summary of your own activity, including your courses and any comments you have made. We shall be extending these with further signposts for the course and indications of your progress.
An intensive tutoring model can’t work for massive-scale free courses, so we need to offer online support without a large network of tutors. The solution is to harness the power of the community, where learners can make immediate use of their newly acquired skills by sharing their knowledge with their peers.
Following other learners is part of a powerful system we are building that will allow you to acknowledge good contributions and promote people who offer helpful advice, and to develop your own reputation. In this way, success comes not just from passing an assignment and completing a course, but also from making a contribution to the FutureLearn community.
Massive-scale social learning
All these approaches need to work with huge numbers of learners so that comments don’t just flash past, and reputations can be built over time. That’s why we decided to create a new massive-scale social learning platform, drawing on expertise from The Open University, BBC, social media designers, as well as our FutureLearn partners. It’s a new way of learning.
Visible learning is inspired by the work of John Hattie, to find out more, visit visible-learning.org.
The community support model comes from Diana Laurillard’s work on conversational frameworks for formal learning.
Pick a course
Browse our course list to find something that you’d like to learn about. We have courses in a diverse range of subjects and are always adding more. Courses vary in length. Most are six to ten weeks long but we also have some shorter two and three-week courses.
Read reviews of FutureLearn courses to see how other learners enjoy learning online with FutureLearn.
Perhaps you might want to invite a friend to take part with you? You can do this via email and social media when you join.
Learn for free, upgrade, or buy Unlimited
You can choose how you learn about our online short courses. Here’s the difference between learning for free, upgrading, and buying Unlimited:
Access to the course for its duration + 14 days, regardless of when you join
- Access to the course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn
- Access to course tests if there are any
- A printed and digital Certificate of Achievement or Statement of Participation when you’re eligible
- Access to your choice of hundreds of online short courses and tests for a year
- A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
- The freedom to keep the content of any of the courses you’ve gained a digital Certificate of Achievement on
- The flexibility to complete your short courses in your own time within a year
While you’re waiting for the course to start, you can fill in your profile page so that other learners can find out more about you. You can find your profile in the menu on the top right of the screen.
We’ll email you to let you know when the course starts. If you’ve signed up a long time in advance, we’ll also send you a ‘one month to go’ email, to help you prepare for the course.
Start the course
Once the course begins, a link will appear on Your courses dashboard. This will take you to the course ‘To do’ list, which will show you what to do next.
FutureLearn courses are divided into weeks. These contain various activities that you should aim to complete within the week, each one built from a sequence of straightforward steps, to help you learn. Each week is given a descriptive name, so you always know what’s expected, and you can even navigate between them, to see what’s coming up, or catch up from the beginning if you’re late starting.
Videos, audio and articles
You can learn by watching videos, listening to audio and reading articles. Many of these steps are followed by short quizzes to help you check that you have understood.
Comments in the margin
Every article, video or piece of audio has a space to allow learners to comment and ask questions. This appears in the margin on large screens or is revealed below on small screens.
You can discuss topics with each other and educators will offer guidance and answer questions. Press the comment button to join the conversation.
Mark as complete
There is a switch at the end of each step that allows you to mark it as complete. This updates your ‘To do’ list, but leaving the switch off does not prevent you from moving on to the next step. If you’re not sure that you properly understood something, you can leave it and come back to it later.
Every so often, you’ll come across a discussion step, where you’ll be given a topic to talk over with fellow learners. Talking about ideas is a really great way to learn and consolidate information, so give it a go, even if you find it daunting!
Want to find out what everyone is talking about right now? Go to the course activity page to see what questions you can help answer and which topics are under debate.
Once you start commenting, you’ll probably get replies from other learners. You’ll see these on the replies page. You’ll also get email notifications so that you never miss a reply.
Spotted somebody that is making interesting points and asking great questions? Press the ‘Follow’ button on their profile page and you can filter the discussions to include the people you’re most interested in. If someone follows you and you follow back, you can learn together.
Many activities will include a quiz, a moment to pause and check how well you’ve understood the key points from the previous video or article before moving on. The quizzes are not scored, you get an unlimited number of tries at each question and we give you feedback and hints on each go.
If you’ve upgraded your course you will be able to take tests. Tests work in much the same way as quizzes but tests are scored and are limited to three tries. These count towards your overall mark and are designed to test your knowledge. We’ll give you three points if you get a question right the first time, two on your second attempt and one on your third.
Many of our courses also offer you the opportunity to do assignments and get feedback from other learners on the course. Each assignment will come with clear instructions about how to write or create your assignment, as well as give constructive feedback to others. It’s a great opportunity to put what you’ve learnt into practice and get tips on how to improve.
Completing the course
When you’ve finished your course, if you’ve upgraded and met the requirements for a certificate, you’ll receive a digital certificate and later a printed certificate to help you demonstrate your learning.
If you haven’t upgraded you still have the chance to when you’ve finished the course. If you upgrade you will be able to go back and complete any tests in order to earn a certificate.
Choose the next course
Education is infectious: we’re confident that you’ll enjoy the FutureLearn experience so much, you’ll have signed up to another course before the first is even finished!