MOOC Goes International–FutureLearn

As anticipated for quite a while, the new UK MOOC provider FutureLearn has announced their first set of courses which means that the US-centric nature of MOOCs will more than likely give way to the global spectrum within the next few years.

A number of international colleges and universities have already begun testing the waters with MOOCs by joining forces with US-based providers. Students are now able to take classes from University of London, University of Copenhagen and LMU in Munich all thanks to MOOC and Coursera.

MOOC have started to take root in different parts of the world with varying level of commitment, with some countries debuting their own platforms and courses while others are constructing MOOC resources for current educational programs. However, out of all of these initiatives, FutureLearn might have the most potential given that it’s wholly owned by one of the worlds oldest and most successful practitioners of distance education: the Open University.

Open University or OU was founded in 1969 and today offers hundreds of courses organized into dozens of degree programs for close to a quarter million students. The demographics of OU student’s looks very much like the breakdown of enrollments in Udacity, Coursera and edX courses according to the facts and figures segment of the OU webpage.

According to Sir John Daniel—former President of OU—described at MIT’s recent LINC conference, Open University courses are way ahead of their MOOC counterparts in terms of scope, rigor and integration of resources such as tutoring and demanding assignments and assessments. And the standards and qualification crazed nature of the British educational system provides an exam-based pathway for students to obtain that Holy Grail of independent education: a recognized degree.

The original launch includes twenty-four courses covering the usual mix of disciplines including computer programming, science, history and two courses on dentistry. Giving the continuing domination of English as the lingua franca of education, FutureLearn stands the best chance of breaking the market dominance of US-based MOOCs outside the US.