The British Library has announced its intention to join the UK’s Mooc platform FutureLearn Ltd, offering participants of its online courses access to the Library’s unique digitised resources. The Library will be the first non-university research institution to join the initiative, and is among five university partners announced today during a major business and skills mission to India with the Prime Minister.
The launch of the FutureLearn Mooc (or ‘Massive open on-line course’) stems from the growth of online degree-style courses in the USA, where companies such as edX and Coursera offer around 230 Moocs to more than 3 million students. The first ever UK Mooc, FutureLearn Ltd, was launched by the Open University last December and includes partnerships with eighteen UK universities. Existing Library digital resources will be made available on FutureLearn, complementing plans for large-scale participation in online lectures and courses which are due to start later this year. The Library’s freely available digital collections include over 800 medieval manuscripts, 40,000 nineteenth-century books and 50,000 sound recordings, and continue to grow each year.
Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said: “FutureLearn is an exciting development in higher education, with the potential to enable mass access to valuable resources and teaching anywhere in the world, for free. As the home of a growing set of unique and valuable digital resources, the British Library is looking forward to partnering with The Open University and widening access to our collections for even more researchers online worldwide as the initiative develops.”
Welcoming the new partners to Futurelearn, Open University Vice-Chancellor, Martin Bean said: “We’re in the middle of an exciting time for higher education in which anything is possible. I am delighted that these iconic institutions - the British Library and five top universities - have joined us on our journey to make Futurelearn the world’s best source of free, open, online courses. I’m convinced that Futurelearn will quickly become a great, innovative British export. We’re building on the country’s 800-year history of higher education to deliver a best in class teaching and learning experience that will benefit students all over the world”.
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