FutureLearn courses are broken up into weeks, activities, and steps. Steps nest within activities, and activities nest within weeks.
Course weeks are a way of hierarchically structuring content. Our default model for courses is on demand, meaning learners can access the content and study when they want. But the weeks of a course suggest the time learners may wish to commit to the course i.e. weekly study 3 hours a week for 4 weeks.
Learners receive weekly emails on a Monday after they have enrolled (and once the course run has started) to encourage them to pace their learning and keep going.
Short courses can be two to ten weeks long; four to six-course weeks work well. Microcredentials and ExpertTracks have considerably increased learning hours, so tend to have more weeks overall (though these may be divided amongst several connected short courses).
Top tips for designing weeks
- Prepare short descriptions (1 or 2 sentences) telling learners what the weeks are about. When you build your course, Course Creator will prompt you for these descriptions.
- Design weeks with a relatively consistent number of activities and steps. Each week of your course must build on the previous.
- Frame the week with top and tail activities - a place at the start to introduce what’s coming up, and review what’s been covered at the end.
- Start conversation between learners early within a week. A learner that engages with their social community early is a strong indicator they will return to future weeks of the course.
- Weekly learning time varies. About 3 - 6 hours per week is ideal (though this learning time will be increased for microcredentials and degrees). This includes watching and reading course materials, taking part in discussions, writing and reviewing assignments, and engaging in reflective study and additional research. Strike a balance between the content feeling too light and too dense.
- Design your course to retain the interest of busy learners who are integrating study into their daily lives. Maintain interest through the week through storytelling.
How many steps and activities within a week
An average 2 hour-a-week course will contain 15 steps, with a maximum of 25 steps. These steps will be split across 3 - 5 activities. The minimum number of steps in a week should be 6 and the maximum should be between 20-25 depending on the stated learning time.
Week 1 is crucial but can be when we lose the most Learners. It should hook learners in, and be engaging.
Design slightly fewer steps for week 1, to ease learners in and avoid overloading or discouraging them from returning.
Build a week in Course Creator.
Find out more about fantastic course weeks in steps Planning your course at week-level? in How to Create a Great FutureLearn course. Contact your Partnership Manager for access.
Terminology on this page that you aren’t familiar with? Check out our glossary.
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