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ELT MOOC proves FutureLearn’s most popular

The English language-focused MOOC has been the singularly most popular online programme offered by UK platform, FutureLearn. Promoted and provided by the British Council, the course has proved a hit, particularly with the 26-35 year old age group, many of whom have never taken an online MOOC course before.

Anna Searle introduces the course on the FutureLearn website; the next course will run in February 2015

The British Council was able to leverage its global and local social media channels to promote the online programme worldwide

More than 120,000 people from 178 countries signed up to the Exploring English, Language and Culture course that ran last month.

Almost half were full-time professionals and 30 per cent of that cohort were teachers.

Just under one-third of all those signed up accessed the course via a mobile device.

The appeal of a free online course helping English language acquisition and cultural understanding resonated particularly with Spaniards, Brazilians, Russians and Italians, although a very diverse range of nationalities were represented in the first cohort. (Myanmar/Burma was in fifth position).

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 14.32.48Sara Pierson, Head of English for Education Systems at the British Council, which runs the course, said that the British Council was able to leverage its global and local social media channels to promote the online programme worldwide.

It is aimed at English learners with an intermediate ability or higher.

It is also intended to “encourage people to consider the UK as a destination for study”

“The learners have completed almost 1.6 million activities, producing over 340,000 comments, and that has created a very dynamic forum for discussion,” said Pierson.

“We are delighted with the success so far of our first course on FutureLearn and are pleased that we’ve been able to help take the platform to new audiences all around the world.”

The programme will run again next year in February and is also intended to “encourage people to consider the UK as a destination for study, or encourage them to take further English courses, whether from the British Council or from other UK providers”, said Pierson.

The first course featured video interviews with well known British people such as serial entrepreneur, Richard Branson. Host platform, the OU-backed FutureLearn, has just celebrated its first birthday.

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 14.28.35Also close to its first birthday is an Australian ELT MOOC provider, the Massive Open Online English Course (MOOEC).

Offering a range of courses run by various Australian English language educators, the platform has seen 40,000 users sign up since December last year.

“We are very much at the beginning of our journey in respect to our ability to understand our user base and what attracts people to the site and to undertake particular lessons or courses,” said MOOEC founder, Chris Evason of IES.

“We have allowed the MOOEC to organically grow through user recommendation so we’re very happy with the enrolment to date – it’s clear that there are huge numbers of people seeking online English learning and we’ve clearly only scratched the surface.”

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