g:i ag:i aAcademic Innovation Initiative: Discussion with FutureLearn CEO Simon Nelsong:i a - g:i a


Event Details

The Office of Academic Innovation welcomes FutureLearn Chief Executive Simon Nelson to speak to the U-M community as part of the Academic Innovation Initiative.

FutureLearn CEO Simon NelsonThe Open University-backed FutureLearn, the leading social learning platform and first UK-based provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), site went live in September 2013; since then, it has attracted almost 6 million registered learners studying 14 million courses between them and now offers fully online degrees.

In May 2015, FutureLearn delivered the biggest single run of a MOOC ever, with a record of more than 440,000 people signing up for the IELTs course from the British Council. In May 2016, FutureLearn launched its first credit-bearing MOOCs, a milestone followed by its partnership with Deakin University in December 2016, offering a suite of fully online degrees. Most recently, FutureLearn announced its first partnerships with key educational institutions in America, in February 2017.

To date, FutureLearn has partnered with a quarter of the world’s top 200 universities, including over 70 UK and international universities, and 46 specialist education providers and centres of excellence, including the British Council, European Space Agency and the National Film & Television School, to deliver free and paid for online courses to its global community of learners.

The company was named “Start-up of the Year” at the 2014 British Interactive Media Awards. In 2015, FutureLearn won the ‘Best Education or Learning Experience” category at the UXUK Awards and was named winner of the overall Best User Experience Award. In January 2017, the world’s leading showcase of education technology – Bett, announced FutureLearn as their winner of the ‘Free Digital Content/Open Educational Resources’ category.

In October 2016, Simon Nelson was invited to deliver the annual President’s Lecture for the Royal Society of Arts in London, sharing his thoughts on the future of education and the opportunities that digital platforms present.

Simon Nelson has a background in digital disruption as a pioneer in taking media brands and content online. He spent 14 years at the BBC, where he was instrumental in putting radio online, and overseeing its podcasting service and the innovative Radio Player around the turn of the millennium. He then moved to head up all digital content activities for its television divisions where he led the development of the BBC iPlayer and other ground-breaking online products and services.

After leaving the BBC, Simon led a number of digital strategy and product development projects in the TV, radio and publishing sectors, working as an advisor to companies including Random House, UKTV, Lime Pictures, United Business Media and Phaidon Press.

Simon and his teams have won multiple awards for digital innovation and product development, including several Emmys, Webby and Bafta awards, the Prix Italia, Prix Europa and Rose D’or.

The Academic Innovation Initiative, launched by President Schlissel, represents the next stage in the evolution of our leadership in higher education. The new Initiative is designed to help us consider how we can leverage networked access to information, new modes of learning and the power of data analytics to strengthen the quality of a Michigan education and enhance our impact on society.

All are invited to attend.

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