Professional Development through Future LearnDenise Ozdeniz
What is Future Learn?
Future Learn is a virtual learning environment created by The Open University in partnership with 85 universities worldwide and institutions such as The British Council. Courses are free, but a certificate can be purchased for 34 pounds sterling, if proof of course completion is necessary. Courses vary in length and are usually between 4 and 8 weeks long, with learners being expected to study from 2 to 4 hours per week. The Future Learn VLE is device agnostic and is thus accessible on mobile devices, tablets and laptops, making it an ideal tool for professional development. Since its launch in September 2013, 3,147,832 people have used it to upskill themselves.
What course categories and courses are available?
Courses fall into 12 categories including Online and Digital, Science, Math and Technology, Health and Psychology, and Language and Culture ( https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/categories.) Some courses that may be of interest to people teaching English for Foundations and General Education are: Understanding Language Learning and Teaching, Developing your Research Project, Blended Learning; Getting Started, Learning Online: Learning and Researching, Academic Integrity and Dyslexia and Foreign Language Learning. (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/categories/teaching-and-studying).
What does a typical course look like?
Future Learn is based on the community support model of education advocated by Diana Laurillard (http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/Laurillard_conversational_framework). Following learning through storytelling principles, key concepts are presented through videos with accompanying questions which relate the learning points to your personal experience and background knowledge. In the community supported learning through discussion phase, participants are invited to share their opinions on an online forum and respond to the opinions of others. This phase is very similar to other Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) that I have participated in, but there is more input form course tutors and lead mentors. In some courses, the most pertinent points from each week’s online forum are summarized and responded to, in a wrap up video produced by the course tutors. At axial moments, unassessed quizzes help you measure your understanding of course content and receive immediate feedback. Finally, there is a summative test which you are allowed to take 3 times.
Following the digital instructional design principle of visibility, courses are very easy to navigate with the help of ‘To Do’ lists, ‘Progress’ wheels and ‘Your Comments’ short cuts. (https://www.futurelearn.com/about/how-it-works).
I, personally, am really enjoying using Future Learn as a tool for my own professional development and highly recommend it to the HCT community.