By default, our courses are available on demand. On demand courses have an extended enrolment period of 250 weeks after the original length of the course.
Our research shows that our global learners who are working around other commitments want to be able to join courses straight away. Prospective learners scrolling through course listings are more likely to enrol on those available to learn now, and less likely to enrol or become active on a course that hasn't started yet.
On demand courses are open for learning continuously. Once the course has started, learners can begin learning as soon as they enrol with no need to wait for a new run to begin.
NEW FEATURE: Auto re-runs of your courses
At FutureLearn we always aim to enhance our user experience, both for our learners and for you, our partners. That means we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to improve our processes, tools and platform, and support you while doing so.
Over the past few months we’ve identified an opportunity to streamline the restarting (or “re-running”) of courses when they approach the end of their runs. We believe this will:
- Improve the availability of courses for learners
- Reduce the burden of administration on partners.
Automating the process
From 1st December 2023, we will implement a new automated process for “re-running” courses, which we hope will make resourcing runs easier for you and should keep courses available for interested learners for as long as possible.
From December onwards, you will receive an email notification, one week before the course ends, letting you know the run is coming to an end and that we will arrange the next run. This will only happen if there is no new run scheduled, but if you’re happy with the course continuing, there’s nothing else you need to do.
If however, you do wish for the course run to end and for the course to no longer be available, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope this will improve the experience for learners and partners alike.
Four top tips for on demand courses
1. Pin a note and specify facilitation windows
On-demand courses may have short periods of facilitation or no facilitation at all. By design FutureLearn short courses do not require active, constant facilitation, but learners need to know whether and when facilitation will be available on a course in order to manage their expectations.
Pinned comments can be unpinned and replaced with a new pinned comment, which removes the need for editing the step content on a live course.
- Pin a comment to an early step in the course explaining if you will or won’t be facilitating (once it is live). It will appear at the top of the comments. See the facilitation page for guidance on how to pin comments.
- If you decide to facilitate your on demand short course for a short period, insert the dates into Course Creator. These facilitation windows are promoted to learners on the Course Description Page.
After hosting a facilitation window, new learners will see educator’s previous responses and may presume the course remains facilitated. Pin a comment thanking learners for their contributions and explain that the team will no longer be answering questions. Here are some examples:
- The Educators and Mentors were actively facilitating this course between X and X dates. It was a huge joy to interact with learners. We are now not active in facilitating comments.
- Thank you all for the fantastic and insightful questions. We have answered many but are no longer able to respond to further questions. We encourage learners to answer each other’s questions and engage in discussion.
2. Avoid 'we look forward to hearing from you'
Social learning is part of the FutureLearn DNA. To create a reassuring and engaging educator presence, write your course content in a conversational tone of voice, but construct your discussions questions and social prompts carefully. If you don't intend to monitor comments, avoid language that suggests you will. Instead, use language that encourages peer-to-peer learning.
Here are some examples of best practice:
- Comment below with your experiences, like and reply to other learners who have had similar, or very different experiences to you.
- Comment below with your experience and try to find another learner who has had a similar or very different experience to you. Reply to one or more learners and ask them a key question to explore their experience further.
3. Use course emails to help learners understand your presence
- Be clear in your week 1 email if your course will be unfacilitated. For example:
“I will be encouraging you to take part in online discussions with your fellow learners as the course progresses. Use these discussions to ask questions if you’re struggling, and help other people if they’re stuck. I won’t be able to answer any of your questions myself, but I hope you enjoy sharing your ideas and experiences with the global learning community”
- If your course will only be facilitated during the first few weeks after the course start date, use the "joined during extended enrolment" email to explain that the course is not facilitated and explain to learners that they can still benefit from commenting with each other.
- Partners with organisation admin permission can put weekly emails back into draft, update their content and resubmit them if course facilitation changes.
4. Market your course after the course start date
- On demand courses remove the pressure to enrol a large cohort of learners for the short period the course is open for learning.
- This removes the need to open the course for enrolment ahead of the course start date and makes marketing your course easier.
- Instead of enticing learners to enrol on a course that has not yet started, courses can be promoted over a longer period which are available to join and learn now.
- Course Description Pages (CDPs) can accumulate better Search Engine Optimisation over time and learner reviews can appear on CDPs further marketing the courses’ value.
All courses are reactively-moderated by a specialist third-party moderation service. If a learner ‘flags’ a comment, this team responds in accordance with moderation guidelines based on our Code of Conduct and Terms & Conditions. Read more about how moderation works on FutureLearn.
Making changes to on-demand course content
Major updates to the existing run affect the learning experience of learners who have long-term access to it. If you need to make changes to course content, please do not do so in a course run that's currently live. Instead, create a new run and pin a new comment.
Email email@example.com explaining the substantial changes you are planning to do. Substantial changes include:
- adding or removing steps
- adding, changing, or removing quiz/test questions or answers
- changing the upgrade price
- changing the course name
- changing the learning outcomes of the course
- Major updates to the course description
The Content Team can then determine if an additional Quality Assurance review may be required.
Other changes do not warrant a new run and can be updated on the current course, such as:
- fixing minor errors in the text e.g. typos
- small updates to step text e.g. for clarification purposes
- adding references, links and additional resources to the bottom of a step
- change in course educator/course team
- changes to course emails
Suggested language for unfacilitated runs
- The Educators won’t be able to join the discussions themselves or respond to individual comments, but the course encourages a strong learning community. The learning is focused around debate and discussion - supporting other learners, sharing your own experience and knowledge, and listening to new perspectives. We hope that you will enjoy interacting with and learning from each other in this way. Don’t forget to comment, reply to other learners and ‘like’ comments.
- This course is not facilitated. Develop ideas through conversation… Learners are encouraged to support one another, share personal experiences, and see new perspectives.
- Learn from the experts and develop your own ideas through conversation. Course educators won’t be able to join the discussions themselves or respond to individual comments, but the course encourages a strong learning community. Learning is focused around conversation. You are encouraged to support other learners, share your own experience and knowledge, and listen to new perspectives. We hope that you will enjoy interacting with and learning from each other in this way.
- This course is unfacilitated. We encourage you to answer each other’s questions where you can. If you have found the answer to your question off-platform, come back to the discussion with what you have found. This may help your peers if they have similar questions.
Terminology on this page that you aren’t familiar with? Check out our glossary.