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The Open University’s free online learning site sees 50% boost in visitors

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@OUFreeLearning is proving a popular resource for all ages during the current pandemic, containing specific pages associated with #coronavirus and related concerns.

The Open University has seen a spike in visitors to its free online learning platform OpenLearn to access its health, wellbeing and educational advice in a time of huge societal need.

The popular online site is The Open University’s home of free learning, offering a chance for anyone to explore topics from digital literacy to mental health support, providing hundreds of pages of tips and advice for coping with the affects of Coronavirus and the impact it is having across society.

The site usually sees an average of 40,000 daily visitors to the site, but that total is rising and is now approaching 60,000 unique visitors.

Its dedicated pages on Coronavirus provide information and links to UK government advice and advice from OU academics about the spread of the virus and a wealth of free resources dealing with associated concerns such as mental health issues. Additional content is also being developed for these Coronavirus-specific pages, including video content aimed specifically at the elderly (over 70s) on staying well in the event of needing to self-isolate. 

In terms of educational resources, there are popular specific pages on taking teaching online with a collection of helpful resources and a digital literacy collection.

For students to supplement studies, there is the For Study section of the site. And work-based skills are available in the For Life section, and work skills

Professor Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor, The Open University, said:

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“The increasing changes we are having to make in society because of the coronavirus has created a demand in delivering educational content online but also, clearly, for how to stay informed, inspired, engaged and entertained in this time of need.

“The Open University has always been present in peoples’ homes and has long been a front-runner in distance learning, specifically online. OpenLearn is a valuable free resource and we hope it can help people, families and communities in these unprecedented times.”

Launched in 2006, OpenLearn has 15,000 hours of online courses and content offered to all, free of charge. The portal attracts 10 million visitors per year. With over 1,000 courses, learners can explore a subject, get inspiration, build skills and confidence and earn recognition (via badged open courses), all for free.

As well as popular interactives, academic insights and animations on a range of subjects there are also more typical taster courses in the arts, sciences, languages and more plus comprehensive courses to show you how to make your own open educational resources.

  • What’s on offer? All courses – with printable statements (PDF certificates); browse by subject, level and length.
  • Skills for Work  – including digital and leadership.
  • Skills for Study – including critical thinking and writing.
  • Skills for Life – including family and relations, health, money and finance.
  • ‘Badged’ courses – provide badges which can be shard on social media.
  • Everyday skills – functional skills courses, level 1 & 2 in maths and English.

Courses are available immediately: Our courses do not have a start and end date. You can start right away or at a time that suits you.

Work through at your own pace: You can spend as long as you like on a course. If you sign-up you can track your progress and work towards a free statement of participation.

There are around 1000 courses to choose from: The courses always focus on a specific area of learning. Some focus on academic subjects, others on skills needed for study or work.

Check out the behind the scenes background on our co-productions with the BBC here.

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