FutureLearn at SXSWedu

FutureLearn at SXSWedu

In this post we share some of what our CEO Simon Nelson said about higher education and the digital world, when he spoke at SXSWedu in Texas.

SXSWedu is an annual conference and festival which celebrates innovation in learning. The event is part of the South by Southwest family of conferences and festivals and, now in it’s seventh year, has grown into a global event.

This year Simon Nelson, our CEO, attended the event to discuss how digital can transform education. Here are a few of the key points he made:

MOOCs have “only continued to grow”

MOOCs have been described as both the answer to the world’s educational problems and as a fad. In reality MOOCs sit somewhere in between and despite the hype of the media and educational institutions, MOOCs are continuing to develop.

Data collected by Class Central indicates that 23 million new people registered for a course, over 700 universities offer online education and almost 7000 new courses were designed, all in 2016.

“MOOCs are just one part of a much broader disruption”

The arrival of the internet was a disruptive force in higher education, one that has had a huge impact on learners and institutions. But this is an exciting time for education, presenting opportunities to transform the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of learning for everyone, anywhere in the world.

MOOCs have encouraged organisations to engage with digital in new ways, at FutureLearn, this happens through experimentation with:

“New partnerships”

Instead of building basic partnerships it is important to build a network which supports proper collaboration between universities and organisations.

“New sets of learners”

Initially the creation of MOOCs focused primarily on what they could do for students and secondly what they could do for professionals. This is beginning to change and universities should be looking to cater to all sectors of society, broadening their learner base and creating new opportunities through new audiences.

“New forms of teaching”

Digital can take learning in new directions, offering new levels of accessibility. The focus with digital learning should be on the user, making the experience flexible, manageable, easy-to-use and mobile.

“New approaches to qualifications”

More and more universities are offering full degrees, hosted entirely online, but degrees are now being delivered through MOOCs using social ‘campus’ communities. This is redefining what it is to take a degree in the digital age.

“New ways to have an impact on learners all over the world”

Universities that offer courses, programs and degrees online are opening up opportunities on a global scale. An international classroom grows and develops allowing people  across the world to learn together.

Or to put it simply, when higher education uses digital it is “opening up the university to the world but also bringing the world into the university.”

Want to hear more of Simon’s talk at SXSWedu?
Listen to the podcast now.

Making FutureLearn