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The University of Southampton
Digital Learning

Open learning

The University was a founding partner with FutureLearn, who offer free online courses to learners across the globe. Since our first course on Web Science in 2013, we have reached over 250,000 learners. The Digital Learning team work with the academics to design, develop and run these courses.

Each course is assigned a learning designer who acts as project manager and ensures that it meets the quality standards and legal requirements. Most courses include many videos which our team shoot and edit, often to tight deadlines. Finally, we train and coordinate the student facilitators who help the academics manage the discussions and run the course. This work directly benefits our own students as well; the academics gain new skills and understanding, and the learning resources created are frequently incorporated into existing modules.

The best way to appreciate the quality of our courses and understand how this form of online study engages learners is to sign up - it is free, and you can just 'look around' if you don't have the time to complete it. Create your free FutureLearn account and sign up for a course that interests you - there are hundreds of courses to choose from.

Exploring our Oceans

Since its launch in February 2014, Exploring our Oceans has attracted over 30,000 sign-ups and 6,000 completions. This flagship course was one of the first massive online open courses to be developed by the university and is presented by a team of international researchers. In 2016 it was ‘Highly commended’ in the Projects category for the international Oceans Awards. A team of postgraduates and staff provide online support to the global audience of learners during each live run, which lasts 4 weeks.

Over time the course has become more than a successful vehicle for public engagement, evolving into a showcase for Ocean and Earth Science's research and student experience as well as a mechanism for testing innovative technologies for teaching. Many of the original resources such as videos are available to embed in relevant Blackboard modules for our own students, and lessons learned from providing high quality and engaging experiences for large online cohorts are being applied to face to face teaching at the university.

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