December 13, 2012, 7:01 pm / Marc Parry
Martin Bean, vice chancellor of the Open U., says the new venture will have a “distinctly British” twist.
Earlier this month, one of Britain’s top newspapers noticed a glaring absence on the British education scene: MOOC’s. “U.K. universities are wary of getting on board the MOOC train,” read The Guardian’s headline. Two institutions, the Universities of Edinburgh and London, have recently signed on to offer massive open online courses via the American company Coursera. Yet in Britain, said the newspaper, “there is scarcely a whiff of the evangelism and excitement bubbling away in America, where venture capitalists and leading universities are ploughing millions” into MOOC’s.
That’s changing. Some leading British universities on Friday announced plans to offer free online courses through a new company being created by the Open University, a longstanding distance-education provider. The company, FutureLearn, will offer courses from the Universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St. Andrews, and Warwick, as well as King’s College London. Many of those institutions belong to the Russell Group, an association of Britain’s top research-intensive universities.
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