MOOCs Come to the U.K.

Two-weeks ago the headline was “UK Universities are wary of getting on board the MOOC train.” At the time U.K. universities thinking so small that investors weren’t even interested in writing them checks. How quickly things change.

Twelve of the U.K.’s top universities have joined together to offer their own version of massive open online courses (MOOCs).The schools””the Universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St. Andrews, and Warwick, as well as Kings College London””have partnered with FutureLearn Ltd., a company set up by the Open University, to offer these classes.

Like U.S. based MOOC providers Coursera and edX, FutureLearn will function as an independent entity. However, because the Open University is providing the seed money and the technology to develop the courses, the school will still retain a majority share in the new company.

Although the partner schools will be providing the course content, the specifics about which classes will be offered and which instructors will teach them have yet to revealed. What has been revealed is that when the first FutureLearn classes debut in the second half of 2013 they won’t be offered for credit.


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The classes will draw extensively on Open University’s seven years of experience of offering online classes. Additionally, FutureLearn’s administrators said that the classes will be designed to take advantage of the potentials of online education and not just attempt to recreate the on-campus experience.

While the most iconic of the U.K.’s higher education institutions””the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the London School of Economics””have decided not to join FutureLearn, the courses offered will still draw on many of the resources that can only be found in Great Britain. FutureLearn expects to use online educational content from institutions like the British Library, the British Museum, and the BBC.

Follow Alex Wukman on Twitter @alexwukman

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