Learning Futures

The work of the Learning Futures theme tackles global challenges in contemporary education and shapes its possible futures. Impact is facilitated by research being carried out in multidisciplinary networks involving academic colleagues, civil society, commercial, technical and arts organisations, policy makers and other partners in the UK and internationally. A major theme is responding to the needs of large numbers of dispersed and disadvantaged learners, based on our research in mobile and ubiquitous learning, citizen engagement, informal language learning and the design of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  

Pedagogy-led development of FutureLearn, the platform for MOOCs

FutureLearn currently has 6.5 million registered users worldwide, with courses from over 100 partners. FutureLearn was designed on a pedagogy of social learning. On average, 30% of learners engage in social interaction with other learners, a much higher figure than on comparable platforms. This impacts their learning through sharing of perspectives with other learners worldwide. We also have a leading role in the FutureLearn Academic Network, which brings together FutureLearn partner institutions from around the world.

Annual Innovating Pedagogy guide, produced in collaboration with international partners

This pedagogy-focused work is world-leading in informing policy and practice on innovative teaching and learning. With around 80,000 downloads per year, the annual guide informs policy making by governments and international organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). 

Enabling ‘citizen Inquiry’ for mass-participation in science and informal learning

We are engaged in the nQuire project with the BBC to provide a platform for mass-participation social survey experiments, building on successful BBC LabUK experiments. Each of these engages tens or hundreds of thousands of participants in exploring aspects of their personal and social life, in connection with BBC media campaigns. LEARN Citizen science is a 4-year multilateral collaboration between universities and science museums. The intended impact is to bring young people closer to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics and to lower the barriers for young people from low socio-economic backgrounds. 

Ubiquitous learning and smart city approaches for migrants and refugees

Funded by the EU Social Inclusion Programme and MK Smart, the MASELTOV and SALSA projects have engaged with groups of migrants across Europe to investigate how mobile technologies can support migrants and facilitate language learning as part daily experience. This research helps shape the learning experience of migrants, the development of migrant support services, the design practice of mobile app developers, and European policy making through the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration and the Council of Europe.

The Learning Futures team