My initial thoughts on FutureLearn

FutureLearn, and MOOCs in general, have of course been in the news a lot recently so I thought I would put my initial response here for my future record.  This is the response I gave to a colleague…

…Ultimately [it has seemed to me that] a lot of [Higher Education] management don’t ‘get’ the possibilities (especially the scale [the University of] Phoenix and others operate on) and have been slow to support online, others continue to be put off by the eUniversity experience.  That said, when institutions have had a branded offer (Ulster CampusOne for example) student numbers have been low so it might make sense to aggregate even if many institutions will see it only as a way to advertise/sell full courses … the OU might steal a leap and continue to take a bigger share of the pie through Apps and other innovations.

Personally, I think the key question is how many resources will be pooled here.  If it’s limited, they would be better opening up their existing course catalogues and online environments so courses are more discoverable via Google, etc.  The idea of creating a portal which people go to because of perceived quality all seems a bit pre-Google to me.

Jisc has announced they are supporting the idea of this but they are perhaps the only organisation which could encourage proper shared systems and resources.  I remember the JISC conference 6(?) years ago talking about this, in terms of SaaS, so it’s only taken half a decade.

… [Is there a] big fear that tutors would just go off and put something on Alison or build a MOOC – [when] there is a real trade off between reputations, publishing opportunities, salaries/bonuses and most tutors/experts actually enjoying classroom teaching beyond any other bit of their job[?]

Lots of great posts on this elsewhere, including:

  1. Donald Taylor (
  2. Gavin Henrick (

I would also agree with the ALT members lists which seemed to come to the conclusion that the key element will be how the ‘1.0’ generation of MOOCs are evaluated and lessons learned impact on 2.0.