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The Open University Business School is to be the first business school in Europe to offer credits for its courses through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) on the FutureLearn social learning platform. The courses, starting on the 15 August, will give learners the opportunity to earn 30 credits towards a BA Business Studies or 15 credits towards an MBA.

The suite of eight undergraduate courses (Business and Finance Fundamentals) and four post-graduate courses (Digital Economy) have been designed to address the changing aspects of business by academics who are recognised for their expertise in leadership, management and finance. The four week courses can be studied purely on mobile devices and incorporate a unique social learning function where ideas can be shared by learners for critique and feedback from the learning community on that course.

All MOOC courses are free at the point of study, so learners can experience online learning and build confidence before making a commitment to study (and therefore pay for) a degree, professional qualification or accredited Continued Professional Development (CPD) course.

Professor Rebecca Taylor, Executive Dean of The Open University Business School said, “We have a long and proud history of offering innovative learning solutions to meet the needs of students and businesses, harnessing the latest technology and research to educate the leaders of tomorrow. We are the first business school in Europe offering a route to formal qualifications via MOOCs, including our flagship MBA programme.”

Simon Nelson, CEO of FutureLearn commented, “Offering an MBA with the flexibility delivered by our platform means that many more people have the option of taking part in this potentially career changing qualification.  Students can fit the course around their work or other important parts of their lives, and can try out a range of different courses for free to ensure maximum suitability.  It is a good example of the potential of MOOCs to deliver more efficient study options that are designed around the learner.”

Professor Taylor added, “These suites of courses offer huge reach and accessibility, and are tailored to help people succeed in their careers, and for employers to boost the skills of their workforce. Our practice-based approach is designed to enable individuals to apply learning to the workplace straight away, equipping learners with the leadership, management, business and digital skills needed to thrive in the workplace and transform their careers.”

For 15 credits towards the MBA, learners must complete four MOOCs in the Digital Economy suite, purchase four Certificates of Achievement through FutureLearn (£59 each) and successfully complete the OU Assessment Module (fee £499). To gain 30 credits toward a BA Business Studies, learners must complete eight MOOCs in the Business and Finance Fundamentals suite, purchase eight Certificates of  Achievement (£49 each)and successfully complete the OU Assessment Module (fee £699).

In addition to offering a route to academic credit, the OU Business School has also partnered with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) to produce courses eligible for CPD accreditation.

Linked to the key business themes from the four Digital Economy MOOCs, the OU Business School hosted an Online Business Exchange, and has produced a series of reports highlighting trends in each MOOC area, which also link to video discussionswith leading academics and industry experts from the online event. The overview report and the report on Marketing are available now, with future reports due for release just ahead of each MOOC starting.

All courses can be registered for at www.futurelearn.com.