From Coursera to Udemy, there are dozens of online course providers out there. When you’re trying to find the right professional development opportunities, it might seem like you have to scour the web to get access to the one that’s perfect for your needs and goals.
FutureLearn is just one online learning platform that you might consider, but there are plenty of good reasons to do so. In this FutureLearn review, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this unique e-learning partner.
What is FutureLearn?
A highly unique e-learning platform, FutureLearn is one of Britain’s first online education providers. This company offers a variety of British online courses as well as many classes from American universities.
In addition to short popular courses, you’ll also be able to pursue micro-credential programs, certificates, and even full online degrees. This last educational offering is what sets FutureLearn apart from the rest of the competition. With other online learning platforms, you’ll likely only be able to take a class here or there – and usually just for fun. With FutureLearn, you could earn an entire degree.
Based out of London, FutureLearn was founded in 2012. It has over 175 university partners around the globe along with a learning community that consists of more than 10 million learners. The company is owned by the Seek Group And Open University.
How Does FutureLearn Work?
FutureLearn makes money through tuition fees charged for online courses, micro-credential programs, and degrees, along with annual subscriptions. There is also a FutureLearn shop that sells various e-learning accessories.
Most FutureLearn courses are fully accredited and recognized, with certificates issued by the partnering universities themselves rather than by FutureLearn. When you begin a program of study, you’ll get access to a large list of weekly units, each of which contains various learning materials like quizzes, assignments, videos, and more. When you finish, you’ll be sent a certificate in physical or digital form.
Features and Functionality
Profile Creation Abilities
One of the coolest features of FutureLearn is that you can complete a profile page. Although you don’t necessarily have to complete this step, it’s a great way of inviting other students to learn more about you. You’ll find your profile at the top of the screen.
In fact, many students choose to complete the profile while they’re waiting for the course to begin. While some courses start immediately, others might have a lapse of a month or more in which you can get ready to take the classes.
When you look at your fellow classmates’ profile pages, you might discover that there is a “follow” feature. This is a cool feature for you to understand if you notice that someone is making good points and asking questions that intrigue you. When you follow them, you can filter discussions to include people whom you are interested in, allowing the two of you to learn together.
Sophisticated Course Structure
Each FutureLearn class is divided into modules of individual weeks. Each week has different activities that you’ll be required to complete that week, each built upon the previous week’s worth of work.
You’ll be able to see everything broken down into straight sword steps and every week is similarly broken down into a descriptive name so that you can see what’s coming in the weeks ahead. If you started the class late, you’ll also be able to catch up with these separate chunks.
Each class contains a variety of learning activities for you to enjoy, something that’s different from other MOOC providers that offer only video tutorials on various subjects. With FutureLearn, you’ll learn by listening to audio, watching videos, and reading articles. Many have short quizzes at the end so that you can test yourself on what you learned.
When you’re done with each step or section of the course, there’s a button you can press that will enable you to mark the section as complete. You’ll be able to update your “to-do” list by doing this. However, if you choose not to mark it as done, you can still move on to the next step.
Comment and Discussion Abilities
For each FutureLearn class you take, you’ll have access to a unique commenting feature. Each video, chunk of audio, and article has a separate space in which you can ask questions or simply leave remarks. This will allow you to chat with other students and to get guidance from your instructors.
You can also discuss various aspects of the course with fellow learners. In the discussion board or discussion forums for each class, you’ll be able to consolidate the information you’ve learned and get more insight on a topic of choice. You can also head over to the course activity page to see what questions you might help others answer, too.
Assignments, Tests, and Quizzes
Most courses on FutureLearn offer students the opportunity to complete assignments. The beauty of these assignments is that they will not only allow you to demonstrate your knowledge of the subject at hand, but that they will also allow you to get feedback from other learners. Every assignment comes with clear instructions and you’ll find plenty of ways to improve your work as you go along.
FutureLearn is, of course, not the only online learning platform that provides learners with tests and quizzes to gain some insight into their progress in a given course. Granted, test-taking is not for everyone – and many people shy away from this feature, remembering traumatic test-taking experiences in high school!
However, it’s important that you take the time to complete the quizzes, which are added at the end of most activities. This will allow you to check how well you understand the key points from an article, video, or other modules before you move on. The quizzes aren’t scored and you can take them as many times as you’d like, with feedback provided for each one.
Tests aren’t offered on all FutureLearn courses, but can be found on upgraded memberships. Tests are similar to quizzes except they are scored and only allow you to take them three times. They count toward your overall score.
What Type of Classes are Offered on FutureLearn?
On FutureLearn, you’ll find online courses that are similar to those you might find on other online course platforms. Most FutureLearn course reviews praise the diversity of materials you’ll find in each one.
Each class will have video lessons, tests, assignments, and reading materials. The courses on FutureLearn tend to be quite a bit longer than the ones you might take on other online course platforms. However, the syllabuses are easy to navigate and you should not have a hard time getting acclimated to the platform.
FutureLearn has a smaller catalog of courses for you to choose from when compared to other online course providers. There are around 500 classes available at the time of writing this article, with a sampling provided from just about every subject.
You will have the best success in finding a class if you are interested in studying topics like business and management, science, engineering, and math, healthcare and medicine, or teaching.
These subjects actually make a lot of sense when you consider the most popular subjects for students to major in within the United States. Most students – nearly 20% of all undergraduates, in fact – are enrolled in business-related majors.
These classes make good sense for students who are interested in expanding their training in these relevant areas. Other course categories include study skills, psychology and mental health, politics and society, literature, nature and environment, language, law, IT & computer science, history, and creative arts & media.
How to Choose Courses?
Ready to get started with FutureLearn? Choosing and enrolling in a class is relatively simple.
You’ll start by finding the right online class. To do this, you should first decide on your own criteria – what do you want to get out of the class? Do you want it to improve your work-related skills? Does it need to be endorsed by a professional organization? Do you just want to take a class to help you pass the time?
This will help you narrow down your options as you begin your search. You can look through the category pages on FutureLearn or search for a class directly if you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Once you find a course you might be interested in, take the time to read the course description. Each of FutureLearn’s courses includes a thorough and detailed course description so that you can learn exactly what the course is about and what you might expect to get out of it.
Reading the description will also help you determine whether the course is appropriate for your skill level. Unlike other course providers, who offer classes that are primarily tailored to beginner- or intermediate-level learners, FutureLearn offers classes at all levels. It is doubly important that you take the time to make sure you have the skills and prerequisite training necessary to take the class.
You can then consider the criteria of the course. Evaluate whether you have the time to keep up with the course – if you don’t think you have the time to commit to it right now, you might want to bookmark it to start it later. You can also choose to upgrade the course so that you can gain ongoing access to it rather than having to complete it within the set time period.
After you’ve decided on a course, you will have to choose between a free, upgraded, or unlimited payment plan. You can then enroll and start the class. You’ll learn through various techniques, including reading, communicating with other students, watching videos, and listening to lectures. When you’re done, you’ll get either a physical or digital certificate.
If the course doesn’t start for a while, you can go ahead and join – but you may want to put a reminder in your calendar to return to it when it begins!
What’s the Price/Cost of FutureLearn?
There are several pricing plans when it comes to FutureLearn, each of which offers various benefits.
The free plan is perhaps the most popular, since you don’t have to pay a dime to take a course. The only downside to the free plan is that you can only have access to a course for its listed duration plus fourteen days – that’s regardless of when you join.
You can also choose to upgrade, which will enable you to access a course for as long as it exists on FutureLearn. If the course has any tests, you’ll be able to access those, too.
This may not seem like something you would even want, but the benefit of being able to access the tests is that you can quiz yourself to make sure you comprehend everything you’re supposed to.
You will also be able to print a statement of participation or a certificate of achievement once you’ve completed the course. This is perhaps the biggest and best benefit of the upgraded membership, since you can use this to transfer credit and show employers what you’ve learned.
If you choose to upgrade to a premium course, the cost will vary depending on the class. A premium course can’t be taken for free and will cost around $100 to $400, but there are also even more expensive courses that cost around $600.
Finally, the unlimited membership will allow you to access all kinds of courses and tests for up to a year. You will get a certificate of achievement on all classes for which one is available and you’ll also gain the flexibility to complete your classes in your own time within a year. The unlimited membership costs $279.99 per year.
The Advantages (Pros) of FutureLearn
Choose it, take classes on FutureLearn, and you’ll gain access to some of the best- and highest-quality courses out there. Many are accredited and all are offered by leading university partners like the University of California-Irvine, John Hopkins University, the University of Newcastle-Australia, and many more.
Each course is broken down into simple weekly task lists so it’s easy to stay on top of what you need to do. The learning experience is not only in-depth and academically rigorous, but it will also allow you to have a bit of fun, too.
With multiple courses to choose from, including short courses, micro-credentials, and even full online degrees, it’s easy to find whatever you’re looking for.
Great Community of Lifelong Learners
FutureLearn offers students one of the best online learning communities. You’ll join a large group of fellow students along with tutors and instructors who are some of the most prestigious in the field. You’ll be able to work with other students via informal mentorships, comments, discussion board posts and replies, and more.
Free Courses Available
If you don’t want to pay a dime to take courses on FutureLearn, you don’t have to. This next-generation learning platform offers many ways for students to take classes for free, as long as they aren’t interested in a certificate option.
Quality Credentials from Leading Universities
That said, if you are willing to pay a bit of money, you can take classes from some of the best universities in the world without actually having to enroll there. You can transfer accredited courses to most American colleges, too, a feature that is lacking in the vast majority of other MOOC providers.
The Disadvantages (Cons) of FutureLearn
Many Foreign University Partners
Although there are a few domestic colleges that offer classes on FutureLearn, many of the online universities are from Europe, Asia, or the United Kingdom. While the courses are still accredited and can often be evaluated for US-equivalent credits via a portfolio assessment, not all colleges will take these credits. This can be frustrating and limiting if you had your heart set on a specific class.
At the time of writing this article, FutureLearn has yet to release an app for Android or iOS. While you could of course choose to simply take the classes in your web browser, this can be clunky and cumbersome – and it could slow down your phone, too, as the courses aren’t necessarily meant to be taken this way (they’re best taken on traditional computers).
Limited Course Catalog
While FutureLearn continues to build out its list of course offerings every day, the fact still remains that this online course platform doesn’t offer quite as many classes as other online learning platforms, like Udemy and Coursera.
High Unlimited Cost
Although the unlimited plan is definitely worth it when you consider all the perks you’ll have access to, you can’t deny the fact that $279.99 is a bit steep when it comes to paying for online courses. However, there are several benefits to mull over, particularly when you recognize the fact that FutureLearn offers courses that can actually be transferred over for course credit.
Other platforms offer comparable annual fees – Coursera Plus, for example, charges an annual membership fee that’s nearly twice that of FutureLearn. Although Coursera has about ten times as many online courses as FutureLearn, the courses often aren’t as high in quality as those on FutureLearn.
The Learner’s Perspective
As a student on FutureLearn, you’ll benefit from a phenomenal and hands-on learning experience. Courses are offered via a unique storytelling perspective, providing you with all kinds of ways to challenge yourself.
One of my favorite features of FutureLearn is that no two classes are exactly alike. Although there are commonalities in terms of how courses are structured, each course offers different features and activities to help you make the most of your online learning experience.
Teachers and instructors are encouraged to view the learning experience from the students’ points-of-view so that they can get a better perspective on how to best help their students. You will be able to interact with other classmates and instructors and to keep track of your own progress and activities right within the FutureLearn platform, too.
The micro-credential programs on FutureLearn are truly unique – and one of the platform’s most shining attributes. These credentials serve as highly valuable FutureLearn certificates that are comprehensive and time-intensive. Many employers don’t recognize online course certificates because they don’t necessarily prove your competence in a certain area, but that’s not the case with micro-credentials.
These programs are often project-based and allow you to gain a significant amount of one-on-one time with your instructors. You’ll earn university credit, too, lending further credibility to your experience.
There are several micro-credential programs you can choose from on FutureLearn, including Teacher Training: Embedding Mental Health in the Curriculum, FinTech- Financial Innovation, and Digital Photography: Creating a Professional Portfolio, just to name a few.
The Instructor’s Perspective
It is challenging to become an instructor on FutureLearn, as you’ll need to be an employee of one of the platform’s partnering educational institutions or organizations.
Although there are plenty of companies and universities that partner with Futuerlearn, like the British Heart Foundation, Cambridge University Press, BGI, and more, teaching on FutureLearn is not as simple as creating a profile and uploading a course (a process that you might follow on other MOOC providers).
All institutions that partner with FutureLearn have demonstrated expertise, strong academic reach, and a commitment to advancing education. To teach on FutureLearn, you will need to have your organization or university get in touch.
If you’re ready to take your learning to the next level, you may want to give FutureLearn a try. This online course provider offers students plenty of benefits, from accredited online classes that can be completed from any location and certificates of completion that can actually be used in a real-world setting. Hopefully, this FutureLearn review has proven to you that the courses offered by this platform are 100% worth your time – try one out today!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is FutureLearn Worth it?
The courses on FutureLearn aren’t that different from what you would find offered by other online course providers. With FutureLearn, you’ll have access to an easy-to-navigate portal and simple course syllabi, plus you’ll likely enjoy the overall learner and user experience. It’s not tough to figure out how to use this platform and it’s affordable, too – so yes, all in all, this is a platform that I think is well worth your time.
Is FutureLearn Legit?
FutureLearn is 100% legit. Unlike other online course providers that do not offer accredited courses that can be transferred to other colleges and universities, FutureLearn offers classes that in many cases can be used for course credit. You could take classes from world-leading organizations and universities like the Institute of Coding, the University of Michigan, or even Johns Hopkins University. Because of this, FutureLearn is probably one of the most legitimate online course providers you’ll find.
Is FutureLearn Free?
Yes, FutureLearn is free, but only if you choose the free membership. There are several other payment structures and memberships available on the platform, which offer additional benefits, but you can opt to take classes for free if you don’t want to pay a dime.
How to Get Free Certificates From FutureLearn?
For a very limited number of accredited online courses, FutureLearn does offer free certificates. There aren’t very many of these – in fact, there are fewer than three dozen available on the platform. However, it’s a good option if you want an accredited certificate in a certain subject without having to pay anything.
In order to earn a free professional certificate, you will need to complete at least 90% of all course steps and earn a 70% or higher on all course tests.
If you’re willing to pay a bit, the company offers FutureLearn certificates that usually take up to two months to acquire and cost up to $99. These are found in most of FutureLearn’s classes. You can also complete a micro-credential program certificate, which is a step above a regular course certificate and can cost up to $1600, more comparable to the cost of a college class. These take longer to complete, too – up to 13 weeks in some cases.
There are also postgraduate criticisms you can pursue. These require a substantial amount of work and take up to nine months to complete, costing anywhere from $3500 and $7000.
Are FutureLearn Courses Good?
Yes. FutureLearn courses are good. There might not be as many FutureLearn courses for you to choose from as there are on other course platforms, like Udemy or Coursera, but you’ll find that the classes you take on FutureLearn are of the utmost quality and taught by instructors who truly know what they are doing.
Are FutureLearn Courses Recognized & Accredited?
Yes, FutureLearn courses are recognized and accredited, many of them by very well-known organizations. Not all are equal in terms of their recognition – for example, short course certificates aren’t as trustworthy as micro-credential certificates.
Can You Put FutureLearn On Your Resume?
As long as the FutureLearn course you took is relevant to your career and your professional goals, then by all means – feel free to put it on your resume. The best place to do this is to include it in a cover letter, although you can also add a separate section to your resume of continuing education courses you’ve pursued.