ExpertTracks are a new way for learners to explore subjects in greater depth over a series of courses, building a longer learning experience than a standard short course. It is recommended that learners work through all the courses in the order provided but not mandated.
ExpertTracks do not carry academic credit but can be endorsed and certificates provided for each course and the entire ExpertTrack. They are always available to join, unfacilitated, and use Peer Graded Assessments (PGAs) and/or automated Tests for assessment. ExpertTracks also have an assigned level; beginner, intermediate or advanced. These courses may take a different shape depending on the course that you are building.
Shape and Structure of an ExpertTrack
How long is an ExpertTrack?
- Ideally an ExpertTrack should be no less than three courses totalling 20 hours of learning, ideally this should be sufficient content to keep learners engaged for 3 months of learning
- We recommend three to five courses
- In cases where there’s a partner with six or more courses we recommend they run two or three ExpertTracks (eg at different levels / with three different areas of focus)
- The Studio & Learning team can work with partners to support the creation of extra learning hours - especially in areas such as independent study, assessment and peer-led discussions, however these still need to be added in consultation with the educators / SMEs so they require time and investment to be included (but can be cheaper / easier to add to existing courses than making new content or extending the educator-led learning hours).
Do all the courses need to be the same format?
- The final course may be dedicated to graded assessment, ideally a peer-graded activity as the summation of previous graded foundational assessments in the course (i.e. tests). A final course like this does not require formal ‘learning time but will increase the learning hours. The Learning team can help with boilerplate / suggested copy to build a final assessment course, as well as with assessment design.
- We will review how different formats of ExpertTracks perform which may mean we alter our guidance and/or optimise existing ETs further.
The above example includes on and off platform tasks and assessments. Partners should inform learners of the rough breakdown in the hours per week by being indicative towards time spent towards on and off-platform tasks. These could include; course content, social participation (inc. reading and interacting with peers), readings, assessments, exercises, personal reflection, research and other related activities for study.
The shape and structure of your course may vary depending on the level (beginner, intermediate or advanced) and whether you are creating a new series of courses, converting an existing short course or courses, migrating from another platform or unbundling an existing programme or Microcredential. These are discussed in more detail in the “How can I create a series of short courses that build from one another to create an ExpertTrack?” guidance.
Learning Design Approaches on FutureLearn ExpertTracks
As each ExpertTrack is a series of courses, the ExpertTracks should be linked together through the narrative of the courses, the Big Questions and the Learning Outcomes. Each series of courses and each individual course should also be underpinned by the pedagogic principles that FutureLearn is built on: Telling Stories, Provoking Conversation, Developing Skills and Celebrating Progress.
Building an engaging narrative both within and between courses on an ExpertTrack is important to building an engaging learning experience. Learners want to know why courses are ordered in a particular way, so adding signposting language in the early steps of each course, reviewing the previous content and previewing what’s next, helps learners keep track of their progress and maintains engagement.
Assessments should also build upon each other, and demonstrate that learners meet the target learning outcomes through the course weeks. We recommend mapping the assessment journey across the courses, making sure to include regular, low-stakes assessments which are constructively aligned with the learning outcomes.
Social learning remains central to ExpertTracks, but It’s important to remember that they are unfacilitated, meaning that any ‘calls to action’ for learners to discuss, collaborate or investigate via the comments need to focus on learner-to-learner interactions. To do this might require rethinking some discussion prompts. For example, instead of writing in an early step: “We look forward to seeing your answers in the comments” change the focus to “Share your answers with your fellow learners, and don’t forget to reply to and ‘like’ their comments.”
ExpertTracks will be always available for learners to join, which means that the way learner cohorts form within the courses will be different too. Encouraging learners to ‘Follow’ each other helps learners build contemporaneous cohorts; they can filter course activity and step comments to see only comments by learners they are following, to tailor their learning experience.
FutureLearn enables learners to develop a range of skills, and the assessments on ExpertTracks allow learners to evidence the skills they develop. Peer Graded Assessments can include tasks which require learners to demonstrate a skill, such as a well- constructed lesson plan, a line of code to perform a function or a paragraph of academic text presenting an argument, all of which can be graded by other learners according to a basic rubric. Peer grading other learners’ work is also part of the evaluative skills learners acquire through ExpertTracks,