On the 14 October, The University of East Anglia will be the first Institution to launch a massive open online course (MOOC), provided by FutureLearn.com. Approximately 20 courses from 20 other University’s also partnered with FutureLearn will start in the following months.
MOOCs are free online courses enabling large scale global participation, usually in short, topical modules. The courses could “revolutionise conventional models of formal education,” according to the universities minister David Willetts.
The course available at the University of East Anglia entitled, The Secret Power of Brands, will be studied over ten weeks focusing on brands and how they work. It is anticipated that each course will attract 20,000 students.
Professor Neil Ward, the University of East Anglia’s pro-vice-chancellor, said: “in the ever changing higher education sector it is vital that we strive to be at the forefront of developments and can meet demand for new ways of learning.”
According to Sir Michael Barber, chief education adviser to Pearson, “the establishment of FutureLearn represents an important step in realising this change and seizing the opportunities technology offers in creating a broader, deeper and more exciting education system.”
William Dutton, professor of Internet Studies at the University of Oxford, remains unconvinced. Professor Dutton has questioned the long term financial viability of online university courses and suggested online courses may work better if ‘blended’ with some time spent in the classroom.
There is the potential for MOOCs to enable taster courses to be provided for school pupils mulling over what to study in higher education. The Department for Education has also mooted that courses of this nature could be used for students in further education colleges and sixth forms in England.