FutureLearn and Creative Skillset have teamed up to deliver a range of free online courses ideal for creative freelancers, expanding FutureLearn’s highly successful creative programme.

Investing in Creativity

Create UK, the Creative Industries Council’s 2014 strategy for the sector, stressed that to remain competitive in creative industries, the UK must plug skills gaps It recommended  more online creative freelancerscareer development opportunities, and industry collaborations for affordable training options for freelancers,  not only for those at entry level but also for those wishing to progress.

This inspired Creative Skillset to invest £200,000 in the creation of massive open online courses (MOOCs), available on the flourishing FutureLearn platform, the only UK-based platform for MOOCs. FutureLearn is owned and managed by The Open University and has generated more than 4.5 million course registrations from learners worldwide since its establishment in October 2013.

Learn from Experts

Through the partnership with Creative Skillset, FutureLearn students can now study creative courses developed in collaboration with leading universities and industry stalwarts like D&AD, The Production Guild of Great Britain and the Ethical Fashion Forum. Not only have MOOCs proved highly effective, but the FutureLearn platform also enables creative practitioners from a range of backgrounds to learn together and share experiences and ideas on best practice with both their peers and experts.

In Demand

Since October 2013, free online courses in FutureLearn’s Creative Arts and Media category, have generated nearly 250,000 course enrolments. The new courses funded by Creative Skillset are expected to generate at least 200,000 more.

“Free online courses are becoming an increasingly important tool in professional development, with learners and employers especially taking notice of the calibre of the teaching institutions, and the potential of MOOCs to reach vast numbers of people,” said FutureLearn Chief Executive Simon Nelson. “At FutureLearn, we have spent a lot of time fostering collaborations between our partners and industry leaders to produce relevant, career-enhancing courses for sectors like the creative industries where there is a clear demand.”

Creative Skillset Chief Executive, Dinah Caine CBE, agrees. “Free online courses are a great way of supporting creative professionals to develop the key skills our industries need. Research from Creative Skillset shows growing demand for online training, especially among freelancers, where time constraints and costs can be a barrier to professional development.”

As well as joining FutureLearn in course-creation, Creative Skillset has funded the development of free online courses by other FutureLearn partners, including D&AD (a not-for-profit that exists to stimulate, enable and award creative excellence in design and advertising), The National Film and Television School, Norwich University of the Arts, The University of Birmingham and The University of East Anglia.

New courses have been developed with the BBC Academy (an education arm of the BBC); The Ethical Fashion Forum (a not-for-profit network focusing on sustainability in the fashion industry) and The Production Guild of Great Britain, the membership organisation for film and TV production professionals.

The courses

Courses available for immediate sign-up are:

  • Digital Storytelling: Filmmaking for the Web, a four-week course examining film theory and practice. Key issues to be covered include story structure, practical techniques for camera, sound and lighting, ethics and legalities.
  • Brand Storytelling: How to Use Narrative to Sell, a four-week course aimed primarily at junior creatives, exploring the power of storytelling for brand success.
  • An Introduction to Screenwriting, a two-week course examining the basic elements of dramatic story and screenplays.
  • Film Production: Behind the Scenes of the Feature Filmmaking, a three-week course exploring how a film gets made and the different types of production.
  • How to build a Sustainable Fashion Business, a five-week course exploring the issues which face entrepreneurs growing a fashion business with a social or environmental ethos.

Courses coming in early 2016 are:

  • Professional Animation Techniques, in which professional animators discuss their approach to telling stories and demystify their own animation techniques.
  • Commercial photographic practice and the moving image, examining how a photographer engages with the needs of the commercial industry.
  • Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers, focussing on how filmmakers can get quick results using freely available software.