The welcome area is a space for learners who have enrolled on a course to comment, access any useful links, and meet fellow learners before the course begins. If a course is already open, e.g. if a Learner is enrolling after the start date (particularly likely if the course is on the 'on demand' model), they will not see the Welcome Area but will be directed straight to the course.
Where is the welcome area?
When a learner selects ‘Join course...’ from your course description page, they will enter the welcome area.
They will then see the two main parts of the welcome area:
- 'Start exploring'
The discussion has a title, a description, and a pink call-to-action button, which takes the learner to where they can comment and meet fellow learners.
Under 'Start exploring', the learner will find links to useful resources to help get them started.
This is what your learners will see if you do not edit the welcome area:
You can access the welcome area at any time before the course starts by adding "welcome" to the end of your run URL:
Why is it important?
Between January 2018 and January 2019, the average number of comments per step was 67. Meanwhile, the average number of welcome area comments was 346.
Of all 30 million comments on FutureLearn, 1.4 million of those were from the welcome area.
You can see more stats in the PDF at the bottom of this page, including:
- when learners are most active in this area
- which course categories attract the most comments from learners
Editing the welcome area
If you would like to edit a welcome area, please contact Partner Support with:
- the name and run of your course
- a title – maximum 50 characters (including spaces)
- a description – maximum 100 characters (including spaces)
- any links
Please let us know if you would like to keep the default links too.
Designing your welcome area
Rather than asking learners to introduce themselves, which they are likely to do in an early step of the course anyway, can you make welcome area content that:
- is controversial or surprising?
- builds excitement / momentum?
- makes use of links?
- is task-based?
- differentiates between and supports learners?
- has timely / planned facilitation?
Learning design workshop
At our Partner Forum in January 2019, we ran a learning design workshop on creating effective discussions, with a focus on the welcome area.
Here's a PDF of the slides we used.