Dive in and start learning with OpenLearn

Open LearnWant a quick learning hit or to explore a subject in more depth? OpenLearn offers you the chance to try things out and learn for free. We spoke to OpenLearn’s Simon Budgen to find out more.

Can you tell us a bit about OpenLearn?

It’s the home of free learning from The Open University (OU) – a website offering thousands of free learning opportunities, ready whenever you you are.

What’s the idea behind OpenLearn?

The Open University has always been passionate about providing educational opportunities that reach beyond our students. OpenLearn is part of that. We release a chunk of every OU course, for free, on the site; and we also publish a range of shorter pieces – articles, games, videos and more – for people looking for a quicker hit of learning.

Who is it for?

We’ve a wide mix of levels of material – so if you’re just getting started with Chinese, or want some quick help with maths, we’ve got you covered. But if you’re more confident, we’ve got something that can stretch you. Everything’s clearly signposted to help you quickly find what’s right for you.

So you don’t need a string of qualifications to get started?

Not at all. You can pick something, and get started. If it works for you, great. If not, and you want to try something to sharpen your basic skills, or to give you a bit more of a challenge, you can just move on. It’s all free, so you’ve nothing to lose by trying things out.

What sort of subjects do you offer?

Our offering comes from right across the university – science, engineering, languages; arts; psychology – and areas like business skills, law and healthcare and wellness.

How does it work?

You can start straight away; but if you choose one of our free courses, and you want to track your progress, you can create a free account.

Do you have to complete courses in a certain amount of time?

Not at all – there’s guidelines as to how long you might expect something to take you, and for longer courses suggested chunks you might want to space out over a few weeks, but there’s no deadlines: you can go as quickly or slowly as works for you.

Can you get qualifications?

If you choose to create an account, you can download a certificate to prove what you’ve studied – and on an increasing number of our courses, completing a short quiz will earn you a ‘badge’, a digital marker than allows you to easily share what you know. We don’t offer formal qualifications, but if you want to take your learning to the next level with formal qualifications, we can point you in the right direction.

How can it help with making career decisions?

Because everything’s free, and you’re free to try bits of everything, you might discover skills you didn’t know you had, or interests you hadn’t sparked before. You may also find out that something you thought was a passion doesn’t sustain your attention at all. You can try subjects that you avoided at school, or ones that didn’t make sense at the time – a different approach may unlock their mysteries.

And if you’re thinking you might like to try your hand at running your own business, there’s a whole collection of business skills support and advice which can give you a chance to try your hand at bookkeeping, marketing and more.

Find out more

Take a look at OpenLearn