UConn partners with FutureLearn; anti-racism courses first to be offered globally

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The University of Connecticut announced on Feb. 23 that it has entered a partnership with online learning platform FutureLearn to begin offering massive open online courses (MOOCs) to a global audience of adult learners. Following this partnership, UConn students, as well as other learners from around the world, will have the ability to take free, non-credit online courses which will allow for learner discussion on a global scale, according to an article from UConn Today.

A United Kingdom based service, FutureLearn is currently partnered with 94 U.K. and international universities. UConn is the latest addition to a long list of renowned learning institutions who share the common goal of furthering FutureLearn’s mission, which according to their website, is to “transform access to education.” 

“FutureLearn partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities to support millions of learners across the globe to develop skills and achieve their personal and professional goals,” according to FutureLearn’s latest press release. “They use design, technology and partnerships to create flexible short online courses and microcredentials, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.” 

Ruth Kustoff, Director of the Office of Continuing and Professional Education, a division of UConn’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, said the decision to partner with FutureLearn was motivated primarily by the platform’s desire to reach a global audience. 

“We want to showcase UConn faculty, and more specifically their research and expertise, for a greater, broader audience.” Kustoff said. 

Kustoff said that for any UConn student who is interested in exploring areas of interest or topics they might not have time to take in their regular school load, this is a great opportunity to interact with others at a global level. 

“We want to showcase uconn faculty, and more specifically their research and expertise, for a greater, broader audience.

Ruth Kustoff

“UConn students can enroll in a FutureLearn course and may be interacting with learners from other parts of the world, such as Africa, Europe or China. This is a great opportunity to meet a diverse group of people and learn from others’ experiences and insights.” Kustoff said. 

The first course from UConn to be broadcast in the FutureLearn digital space will be a two-course series, comprised of an “Anti-Black Racism in America” and “Black Agency: Resistance and Resilience” course, which has been co-developed by UConn sociology professor Dr. David Embrick and UConn communication professor Dr. Shardé Davis. 

While Davis and Embrick both were experienced in crafting online courses (they were two of the main contributors to the university’s one-credit racism course), there was still a learning curve to creating the FutureLearn course, Davis said.  

“But in many respects, we are trailblazers for UConn in creating MOOCs with FutureLearn and we are excited and honored to be doing it.” 

The two-course series will open for enrollment on FutureLearn starting March 14. 

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