Nottingham is part of unique social online learning experience

Students by the Trent Building
18 Sep 2013 13:10:00.000


The University of Nottingham is offering a free course on sustainability as part of a new venture in social online learning.

The University is part of FutureLearn – an online platform offering free course content from the UK’s top universities, which had its official launch on September 18.

FutureLearn, the first UK-led provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), offers learners around the world access to free, high-quality courses from its internationally renowned university partners.

Click here for full story

Social interaction is central to the FutureLearn experience, enabling people to learn actively by engaging in conversations around the learning material, or vicariously, by following discussions. FutureLearn has also been designed to work on smartphones, tablets and desktop computers, so that learners can enjoy the same high-quality user experience, regardless of the screen size.

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

Focus on sustainability

The University of Nottingham is offering a course entitled ‘Sustainability, Society and You’ – exploring the major global issue of sustainability and how individuals can have a real impact on the future. ‘Sustainability, Society and You’ will begin in January 2014 but registration for the course is already open.

The course is led by Dr Sarah Speight, archaeologist, educator and the University’s academic lead on sustainability. It features contributions from academics across a variety of disciplines, supported by expert facilitators.

Dr Speight said: “Sustainability is one of the big global issues of our time. It is crucial that we all play our part in protecting our world for current and future generations. This course provides you with the knowledge and skills to do this by investigating sustainability from multiple angles and exploring what small steps you can take to have a real impact upon all our futures.”

This course develops understanding of the values and principles associated with sustainability and will equip learners with some of the knowledge and understanding required to make sustainable decisions in your personal and professional life.

The syllabus includes:
• What do we think about sustainability?
• Sustainability – a historical perspective
• Big issues for our world
• Organisations and sustainability
• Sustaining society, sustaining culture
• Learning for and through sustainability
• Case Studies in sustainability
• Sustainability and you

Learners from 165 countries

The FutureLearn website opens today as an open beta, which will run until early 2014. Learners will be able to sign up for a selection of courses from FutureLearn’s university partners, with learner feedback used to inform the ongoing development of the website. So far learners from over 165 countries have registered their interest in taking a course on FutureLearn.

Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn said: “We wanted to make FutureLearn a fresh, different and enjoyable user experience. We have designed the website in line with principles of effective learning, such as storytelling, discussions and celebrating progress. We decided to go live with FutureLearn now, in an open testing phase, so that we can remain responsive to learners as we continue to develop the website.”

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said: “Time and again we have seen the disruptive impact the internet can have on industries – driving innovation and enhancing the customer experience. I have no doubt MOOCs will do the same for education – offering people new and exciting ways to learn.

“This is why we took the initiative to join forces with a range of university and cultural partners to create FutureLearn - spearheading the UK's response to the rise of MOOCs and offering students a new and innovative way to access courses. It is so exciting to see the first of these going live and I can’t wait to see the range on offer expand over the coming months."

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "The launch of FutureLearn is an exciting development for UK learning. MOOCs provide the opportunity to widen access to our world class Universities and to meet the global demand for higher education.

"FutureLearn has the potential to revolutionise conventional models of formal education. I encourage all our institutions to explore the opportunities offered by new modes of technology, such as MOOCs. This will keep the UK ahead in the global race to deliver education in worldwide markets."

— Ends — 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 Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leicester, Loughborough, Kings College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Monash, 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

For further details, please contact: / 0203 047 2588

For up to the minute media alerts, follow us on Twitter or find out more on our Press Office blog

Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Sarah Speight in the School of Education, University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 8466465, 
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

Additional resources

No additional resources for this article

Related articles

How to read a mind

Published Date
Wednesday 12th March 2014

University of Nottingham joins Futurelearn

Published Date
Tuesday 19th February 2013

Sustainability, Society and You

Published Date
Tuesday 27th May 2014

Online success for Nottingham programming course

Published Date
Friday 7th November 2014

Media Relations - External Relations

The University of Nottingham
YANG Fujia Building
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5798