|Weekly News Digest
December 20, 2012 — In addition to this week's NewsBreak(s), the editors have compiled the Weekly News Digest, featuring stories from the week just past that you should know about. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today.
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The Open University Launches Futurelearn to Offer Free Online Courses
Students from the U.K. and around the world will have free access to some of the country’s top universities thanks to Futurelearn Ltd, an entirely new company being launched by The Open University (OU). The universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St Andrews and Warwick have all signed up to join Futurelearn.
Futurelearn will be independent but majority-owned by the OU. It aims to do the following:
- Bring together a range of free, open, online courses from leading U.K. universities, that will be clear, simple to use and accessible
- Draw on the OU’s expertise in delivering distance learning and pioneering open education resources to underpin a unified, coherent offer from all of its partners
- Increase accessibility to higher education (HE) for students across the U.K. and in the rest of the world
Futurelearn has been warmly welcomed by U.K. government. The Minister for Universities and Science responsible for higher education in England, David Willetts, said, “The U.K. must be at the forefront of developments in education technology. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) present an opportunity for us to widen access to, and meet the global demand for, higher education….Futurelearn has the potential to put the U.K. at the heart of the technology for learning agenda by revolutionising conventional models of formal education. New online delivery tools will also create incredible opportunities for U.K. entrepreneurs to reach world markets by harnessing technology and innovation in the field of education.”
The University has recruited one of the key architects of the development of BBC Online, Simon Nelson, to head up the company as Launch CEO. Nelson spent 14 years at the Corporation where he helped set up iPlayer and its forerunner Radio Player and led all digital activities, initially for its radio division and then across all television content.
JISC welcomed the news: “This announcement by the Open University is an important step in allowing U.K. education to be at the forefront of the next generation of MOOCs—helping to build an online community for learners.”
Source: The Open University
Paula J. Hane
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