MOOCs aim to help students prepare for university-level study


A number of MOOCs – free online courses – tailored to 16 to 18-year-olds and aimed at “bridging the gap” between school and university have been launched.

The MOOCs (massive open online courses) are planned to start when AS levels finish and last for three to eight weeks, involving one to four hours’ study a week.

They are intended to provide “a real sense of university level study” and are being run by social learning platform FutureLearn, part of the Open University, in conjunction with a number of universities across the UK and internationally.

The courses have been developed after a FutureLearn survey last year of 800 16 to 18-year-olds found that 61 per cent said they did not feel prepared for university-level learning.

Courses include How to succeed at interviews, How to succeed at writing applications, Preparing for Uni, and Developing your research project. There are also tasters of subjects outside of the national curriculum, including computer science, forensics, dentistry, archaeology and robotics.

The MOOCs were trialled at Sir William Borlase School in Buckinghamshire last year. Headteacher Peter Holding said: “We think that (the) online courses have the potential to be a hugely valuable enrichment opportunity for sixth form students, particularly as they prepare for life at university. 

“Many of our students are getting involved with courses that extend their knowledge in their chosen specialist subjects, while others are looking at courses purely for fun.”

Nigel Smith, head of content at FutureLearn, said: “At age 16 to 18 you don’t necessarily feel ready to make such an important life decision as choosing what to study at university. 

“We hope that these new courses help students feel better informed and prepared for university so that they are more likely to make the decision that is right for them.”

The courses start from June 1. Visit



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