Tuesday 19 November 2013

FutureLearn, the first UK-led provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), will provide the platform for the British Council’s first foray into free, web-based, higher education study.

The British Council will use the FutureLearn platform to launch its first ever MOOCs, designed to help people develop proficiency in English. The new web-based courses will build on the British Council’s long-standing expertise in supporting learners and teachers to improve and assess their English language ability globally. Building on this experience, the British Council and FutureLearn are working closely together to create a portfolio of English language MOOCs, and to provide a route for learners to take International English Language Testing System (IELTS) assessments at British Council testing centres. The new MOOCs will enable learners around the world to prepare for higher education study in English, and to communicate in English more effectively.

IELTS is the world's most popular English language test for higher education and global migration. The IELTS test is available at over 900 locations around the world and is accepted by over 8000 institutions globally. Over two million IELTS tests were taken in the last year by people seeking to demonstrate their English language proficiency for study, work and life.

The British Council will work closely with FutureLearn and its university partners in a variety of ways to facilitate Indian students’ access to British Council English language content and assessment. The new MOOCs from the British Council will be available to learners around the world from 2014.

The announcement comes as Simon Nelson, Chief Executive of FutureLearn, visits India to discuss the role of MOOCs in higher education with Indian institutions and government representatives.

He said, “India is already FutureLearn’s second biggest market in terms of overall visits to courses by enrolled learners, with many drawn to topics that could enhance career development and employability. This new initiative with the British Council provides a valuable opportunity for us to support the development of English language and communication skills for our learners around the world. We are pleased to welcome the British Council as creators of MOOCs alongside our world-class university partners.”

Martin Davidson, CEO of the British Council, is also currently in India to launch a British Council/ Pratham ASER 'English Impact Report’.

Commenting on the British Council's partnership with FutureLearn, he said, “The British Council is delighted to be working with FutureLearn, the UK’s new digital learning platform. It is right that India should be one of the first places where we collectively launch the FutureLearn MOOC platform and courses here in India. FutureLearn will provide young Indians with another means of access to the UK’s world-class education institutions; people who would not otherwise have this opportunity. We will work with the FutureLearn team and its partner universities both to promote the initiative globally and to enhance the overall offer to students through the provision of access to our English language and other content, drawing on our rich archive of cultural and educational material.”

The FutureLearn course experience centres on social interaction, whereby people learn actively by engaging in online conversations around the learning material. The website has also been optimised to work on smartphones and tablets, as well as desktop computers, so that learners can enjoy the same high quality user experience, regardless of their screen size. 

FutureLearn is wholly owned by The Open University. The website combines the best elements of the social web with The Open University’s 44 years of expertise in distance and open learning.

Notes to Editor

FutureLearn makes it possible to learn for life, offering unique access to some of the most inspiring learning opportunities from some of the world’s best universities and learning institutions – free of charge.

The website went live as an open beta in September 2013, offering free higher education level study to anyone interested in learning, including current and prospective university students, working professionals and leisure learners.

For further information, please contact:

FutureLearn (India)

Prasidha Menon, Edelman India

T: +91 95601 88330 / E: prasidha.menon @edelman.com

FutureLearn (UK)

Harriet Otoo

T: +44 (0) 203 076 0276 / E: harriet.otoo@futurelearn.com

British Council (India)

Angeles Micah

T: +91 11 4149 7240 / E: angeles.micah@britishcouncil.org

British Council (UK)

Tim Sowula

T: +44 (0)207389 4871 / E: tim.sowula@britshcouncil.org

About FutureLearn:

Futurelearn.com is the first UK-led multi-institutional provider of free, open, online higher education courses. It will offer courses for people to access and enjoy wherever they are in the world on multiple devices.  Courses will be created by the Universities of Auckland, Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Monash, Newcastle, Nottingham, The Open University, Queen’s Belfast, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Strathclyde, Trinity College Dublin and Warwick.  In addition, the British Council, British Library and the British Museum have all agreed to partner with FutureLearn to share content and their expertise and collaborate in the development of courses through futurelearn.com.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide.

We work in more than 100 countries and our 7000 staff – including 2000 teachers – work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year by teaching English, sharing the Arts and delivering education and society programmes.

We are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter. A core publically-funded grant provides less than 25 per cent of our turnover which last year was £781m. The rest of our revenues are earned from services which customers around the world pay for, through education and development contracts and from partnerships with public and private organisations. All our work is in pursuit of our charitable purpose and supports prosperity and security for the UK and globally.

For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org. You can also keep in touch with the British Council through http://twitter.com/britishcouncil and http://blog.britishcouncil.org/.