It was announced today that project ‘FutureLearn’ went live across Great Britain and Ireland. This initiative is a new online learning scheme that allows people to follow and study over the internet, using their mobile phones or computers.
FutureLearn involves 21 universities across the UK, including Trinity College Dublin and Monash University in Australia, in a plan to make limited courses available online. The University of York is not included within this group.
The initiative allows students to study ‘MOOCs’, Massive Open Online Courses, at University level independently via the internet. The students will not be able to gain any certified qualification by studying the courses, however universities are hoping that this will eventually encourage students onto their campus courses.
The University of York’s Press Office commented on the scheme by saying that “York staff have been monitoring the development of MOOCs over the past two years and we paid particular attention to the formation of FutureLearn. After careful consideration we decided that participation as an institution is not for us at this stage. We are keeping a watch on developments across the varied MOOC platforms to see whether and when it becomes appropriate for us to take part”.
The universities who are included in FutureLearn involve Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter and Kings College London. The benefits of the MOOCs allow students to study at university level without the costs of travel, accommodation and tuition at a time that suits the individual.
MOOCs have already had major successes in the USA, with Ivy League universities Stanford and Harvard taking part in the online initiative.
Second year student at the University of York Helen Peatfield said to Vision “I think it’s a real shame that York is not keen to be a part of such an open and exciting initiative. FutureLearn is a chance to join the global race to make knowledge more readily available for everyone, whether you are financially able to attend university or not”.
However, Oxford University, also not included in the scheme, stated the questionable financial viability of the FutureLearn initiative to the BBC earlier today. William Dutton, professor for internet studies at the university, suggested that blending the MOOCs with studies on the university campuses may be more economically appropriate and efficient. It is probable this is one of the reasons York are not participating, however this was not commented on by the Press Office.