Learn more about the FutureLearn Creative Skills Fund

January 20, 2021

As part of an exciting new partnership between the Creative Industries Federation and FutureLearn, the global learning platform, a fund has been created of up to £60,000 offered exclusively to CIF members. This fund will be used to incentivise the creation of ExpertTracks that support the development of:

  • Digital skills for the creative economy

  • Leadership and management skills for the creative & cultural sector

  • Entrepreneurial skills, aimed in particular at those whose careers have been impacted by the global coronavirus crisis

  • New business models, including the monetisation of cultural content

We expect these courses to be highly relevant to the development needs of professionals in the creative sector, by:

  • Reflecting the latest developments in technology and business trends

  • Highlighting real-world contemporary case studies

  • Addressing topical needs around rebuilding and recovery post-lockdown

  • Where possible, to be developed in partnership with relevant companies and/or subject matter experts from outside academia (i.e. industry practitioners)

We are also very interested in proposals which place these issues within a wider context, where innovation in the creative industries (including in the above topics) has valuable learning outcomes for other industries.

An example of an ExpertTrack would be as follows: 

UX/UI Design skills ExpertTrack 

This UI/UX Design ExpertTrack brings a design-centric approach to user interface and user experience design, offering practical, skill-based instruction centered around visual communications. In this sequence of three courses, you will explore and evaluate the key stages of the UI/UX development process, including an introduction to the fields of UX research and design, project strategy & scope definition, information architecture design and sitemap and wireframe development. Through practical exercises you will demonstrate understanding of a condensed roadmap for developing robust UI/UX design. This collection of courses will explore current best practices in UX design and apply them to create effective and compelling screen-based experiences for digital environments. 

Upon completion of this ExpertTrack, you will have produced a mid-level digital prototype including a high-level project strategy, skills to establish the basic structure of a page and  simulated functionality.

This example could of course be focused on a particular technology such as XR


FutureLearn / Creative Industries Federation partnership approach

The fund will be publicised to CIF members, who will be eligible to bid for FutureLearn funding to create courses. The courses will also be included on the FutureLearn platform for the public and therefore be available, at a cost, to FutureLearn's global audience of learners.

FL & CIF will work together to finalise proposed skills areas to target, to coordinate the bid process and shortlist applicants. Courses will carry CIF branding along with that of the course creating partner (i.e. the successful bidder).  The award of funding will be contingent upon the successful bidder executing a contract with FutureLearn covering all aspects of the course creation and delivery process.

In the longer term, FL may  be interested in the possibility of longer-term partnerships with successful bidders to create additional courses and ExpertTracks in the chosen subject areas. By applying to this open call, bidders would not be committing themselves to any additional activity beyond the initial ExpertTrack idea, but it should hopefully be a welcome additional incentive.


Financial support to create new online courses

FutureLearn plans to offer funding up to £30K for 2 successful proposals, as well as guidance and templates to support successful bidders in designing and creating ExpertTracks that work with FutureLearn’s pedagogy, functionality and learner experience.

Bidders will be asked to answer the following questions:

  • What is the proposed ExpertTrack title and subject?

  • Describe in under 200 words the course idea you are proposing

  • Who is this ExpertTrack aimed at and why would it be useful for them?

  • Can you explain why this ExpertTrack is needed in our sector?

  • Can you list the most important Learning Outcomes this ExpertTrack would deliver - [list of 5 or so] 

  • What would be the key content for this ExpertTrack [300 - 500 words]

  • How would you produce this content?

  • How would you make use of FutureLearn’s social learning capability?

  • Will this course be made just by you or will you work with collaborators?* 

  • Why are you or your team the right people to make this course? Can you describe your expertise and experience in relation to the course subject?

*We will be open to both proposals submitted by a sole partner as well as proposals submitted by a consortium of companies and organisations with a nominated lead partner who will be FL’s main point of contact. FutureLearn does not guarantee that any number of bids will be successful and reserves the right not to select any bidders for the project. 


Q&A for bidders

What are we looking for in a course?
We are looking for proposals that have a very practical focus on the skills and knowledge needed by professional learners, in particular those for whom the global coronavirus crisis has forced a change in their careers. We have picked out some broad categories but we are also interested in what you think will meet demand and will provide real value to learners.

We are looking for ExpertTrack ideas that feel relevant, with evidence of learner demand.

We are looking for people or teams that are an authority or subject matter expert and that can provide evidence of work you have done in the field, and evidence of ability to deliver to quality and to time.

We are also looking for ExpertTracks that could carry a credible brand or agency endorsement, whether proposed directly by you or brokered by FutureLearn.

We are looking for ExpertTracks that can be made quickly and efficiently over the next few months bearing in mind the constraint in place due to the current global coronavirus crisis.  

When and how?
Below are some suggested timings and are subject to CIF approval of this proposal and additionally internal FL sign-off. 

  • The application process will open on w/c 20th Jan and will close 2 weeks no later than the 3rd February

  • The decision on which ExpertTracks to commission will be made 3 weeks later by FL w/c 19th February

  • Contracting and onboarding will begin w/c 22nd February 

  • Course creation will follow signed contracts and release of funds and begin no later than w/c 8th March 2021

  • The CIF and FL will agree a timeline with each successful applicant based on the production plan for each course, but we will be aiming at a launch date of late May.

What is the process I will need to go through to create the online course?

  1. Idea refinement with FL: should we approve your proposal, we will work with you to ensure your course idea works for the audiences we have in mind and collaboratively make any necessary tweaks.  

  2. Learning design and creation of course outline: we will give you the tools necessary to design and prepare a course outline that will be the blueprint for your course and can take advantage of social learning pedagogy.

  3. Authoring of course content: we will give you a manuscript tool that you can directly author in and that will ensure the smoothest journey to the final course on the platform.

  4. Production of media: we will give you guidance on how to produce effective learning media in current circumstances.

  5. Upload of content: we will give you guidance in the upload of all final content to FutureLearn using the Course Creator backend tool. 

  6. Quality Assurance: FutureLearn will review your course to ensure it meets the required pedagogic, technical and accessibility standards.


What and how would I be paid for creating the course?
A fee of up to £30,000 will be allocated for a multi-week long ExpertTrack, delivering a minimum of 3 courses and 24 hours of learning over 6 weeks. Funding will be provided upfront to support course development. Depending on the level of support required from FutureLearn and in consultation with the successful partner, we may assign some of the total amount available per ExpertTrack to provide ‘in kind’ support through FutureLearn’s design & production resources (‘FutureLearn Studio’). 

In addition to the up front fee course creators will receive a royalty share of 50% on all sales after FL has recouped our initial investment. The proposed ExpertTrack price is £34-39 per month, depending on FutureLearn’s assessment of likely market demand against specific topics.

Who owns the IP of the course?
IP is owned by course creator(s). Course creator(s) must either own or clear rights to all assets used in the course. FutureLearn will ask for an in-perpetuity licence to market/sell the course for as long as it is on the platform. 

What support is available?
FutureLearn will support the learning design process and will provide a number of check-in surgeries across the course production timeline where we can provide advice on production methods and best use of the platform.

Can I collaborate?
We welcome applications from more than one individual or organisation but the fee of £30K per ExpertTrack remains the same. 

Target Audience
We should be providing the learner with a demonstrable new skill they can learn in the hours of their time we have. Please consider this when proposing the number of courses your ExpertTrack will contain. We would expect learners who take the course to be ready either:

  • To apply it in existing careers for which the skill is relevant

  • To combine it with other learning and reskilling to help them successfully develop their own enterprises

  • To proceed to undertake further study and potential qualifications in related areas

Titles and Learning Outcomes
You can find guidance on how to author learning outcomes here, as well as good examples on the ‘what will you achieve’ sections of these two course description pages.

Our copywriting team will work with you on a final ExpertTrack title based on SEO and platform differentiation but the title you come up with should be no more than six or seven words and be a snappy summary of what is exciting and worthwhile about your chosen topic. Some good examples here and here.  

How will my course be branded?
On the FutureLearn platform your course will be credited to your organisation and carry your brand. Learners will be able to click on your logo and be sent to a page on FutureLearn that lists you as a partner.

Will there be further course-creation opportunities?
If successful, FutureLearn may be interested in the possibility of a longer-term partnership with you to create additional courses and ExpertTracks in the chosen subject areas. By applying to this open call, you would not be committing yourself to this activity.

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