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FutureLearn Review
January 30, 2019 / Chuck McPherson
FutureLearn Review
January 30, 2019 / Chuck McPherson
FutureLearn Review
January 30, 2019 / Chuck McPherson
FutureLearn is a massive online open course (MOOC) platform hosting classes from world-leading universities and organizations. Its catalog includes short courses, ‘microcredentials’, short programs with professional or academic accreditation, and online degrees. Its 150+ partners include King’s College London, Johns Hopkins University, Institute of Coding, and Accenture.
Best For
  • Career development
  • Learning a new skill
  • Pursuing your hobbies
Pros & Cons
  • Pros
  • Courses offered by top universities and institutions
  • Unlimited access to short courses for $280 per year
  • Free to audit short courses
  • Cons
  • Pricing isn’t always displayed clearly
  • Only a handful of American universities
Subjects offered
FutureLearn is focused on academic subjects as well as professional development. Courses fall into the following categories:
  • Business & management
  • Creative arts & media
  • Healthcare & medicine
  • History
  • IT & computer science
  • Language
  • Law
  • Literature
  • Nature & environment
  • Politics & society
  • Psychology & mental health
  • Science, engineering & maths
  • Study skills
  • Teaching
Learning format
Each FutureLearn course is presented by a partnering university or institution, so it stands to reason that the format varies from course to course. There are four categories of courses: short courses, microcredentials, short programs with the option of accreditation, and online degrees.
Short Courses
These are short courses ranging from around 3-6 week with 2-4 hours per week of lectures. You can begin a short course at any time and learn at your own pace. At last count, FutureLearn was offering around 800 courses, with subject titles such as An Introduction to Computer Networking for Teachers from the Raspberry Pi Foundation & National Centre for Computing Education, Business Growth: Tackling the Scale-Up Challenge from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, and Implementing Improvement in Healthcare from Monash University & The University of Warwick.
Microcredentials
These allow you to pursue further study and develop your skills in a specialized field. Courses typically range from about 8-24 weeks. At last count, there were 37 microcredentials with examples including Artificial Intelligence on Microsoft Azure from CloudSwyft Systems and Microsoft, Fintech – Financial Innovation from Dublin City University and Business School, and An Introduction to Entrepreneurial Sales from the Entrepreneurial Sales Institute and Verizon Connect.
Programs
FutureLearn currently offers dozens of short online programs ranging from around 12-52 weeks. Some of these programs offer the option of getting academic or professional accreditation at the end. Many of these programs come from FutureLearn co-founder The Open University, including Management and Leadership and Business and Finance Fundamentals.
Degrees
These are real degrees or certificates offered by world-class universities over a period of months or years. Courses range of Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees to graduate certificates. FutureLearn has 30+ degrees on offer, mostly business and management degrees from the UK’s Coventry University and digital technology graduate certificates from Australia’s Deakin University.
Instructors
Each course is created and presented by one of FutureLearn’s 150+ partnering universities and cultural institutions. FutureLearn’s partners include virtually all the top universities in the UK and Australia as well as many leading educational institutions from the United States, Europe, and Asia. Other partners include organizations with expertise in a specific area, such as Accenture, the British Council, Cancer Research UK, and Samsung.
Usability
To find a course or degree, simply filter the course list by subject or type what you’re looking for into the search bar. Each FutureLearn short course or microcredential is divided into weeks. These contain various activities you should aim to complete within a week, although you can learn at your own pace. You can learn by watching videos, listening to audio, and reading articles. Furthermore, each course material has a space where you can comment and ask questions of the instructor. Overall, the platform is set up in a way that guides you while still giving you the freedom to learn at a pace that’s suitable to you.
Pricing
Short courses are free to access for the course duration plus an additional 14 days, regardless of when you join. Upgrading (usually around $49 - $99) gives you lifetime access to the court, access to course tests if there are any, and a certificate of achievement. For $280, you can purchase unlimited access to the entire online short course list, including certificates of achievement on all short courses where you fulfill the completion requirements.
Microcredentials, programs, and degrees must be purchased separately.
  • Microcredentials typically cost in the range of $600 – 1,200.
  • Programs with accreditation cost in the range of $300 - $600, plus an additional $100 to $1,00 if you want a certificate of completion.
  • Degrees are priced in the currency of the university leading the course (usually in British pounds or Australian dollars). The total tuition fee can reach in excess of US$10,000, which although expensive is significantly less than the equivalent degree when studying in person.
About FutureLearn
FutureLearn was founded in 2020. The company is Jointly owned by The Open University, a public research university in the UK, and Seek Ltd. Its 12 founding partners were all leading British university, including King’s College London, University of Birmingham, and St Andrews University. Today it has 150+ partners comprising universities and cultural institutions from the UK and around the world.
Summary
FutureLearn has established itself as one of the world’s top MOOC platforms, with a range of course types and subjects from some of the world’s leading universities and institutions. Its biggest selling point is its short course catalog–comprising 800+ short courses in areas of study that can boost your career and personal development.