11 L2L MOOCs

BySarah Bridgman

Identification of existing online learning materials to the key competence “Learning to Learn”

Authors: Sarah Bridgeman (OU), Karolina Pietkiewicz (ESIB), Chiara Sancin & Sara Miani (DIDA)
Reviewed and updated in July 2018 by Beck Pitt (OU).

1. Abstract

The purpose of this document is to provide a definition of “Learning to Learn” as used by the BizMOOC project and to collate existing materials from around the web that address this key competence of Lifelong Learning. Desk research was the main methodology used to discover and compare existing courses and media assets that go some way to fulfil this definition. In addition, three platforms, OpenLearn, OpenLearn Create and FutureLearn, both owned by The Open University, have been included as there could be potential in the reuse and adaptation of existing related content.

This paper highlights existing related courses from some of the larger well-known platforms, such as edX and Coursera, as well as individual assets found on YouTube and elsewhere. The majority of materials included in this paper were identified in December 2015/January 2016 and therefore only provide a snapshot of what is available. The paper was subsequently updated in July 2018.

2. Introduction

Learning to Learn is at the heart of the BizMOOC project and is cemented in the objective to contribute to the acquisition of Lifelong Learning and business key competences. This will be achieved through the design, production and implementation of three MOOCs, one of which will be focused on “learning to learn (through MOOCs)”. Indeed, as stated in the project description (Friedl, 2015), this MOOC will serve as an introduction to the other courses and will provide learners with the basic competences to:

  • Self-structure individual pathways;
  • Find appropriate open educational resources (OER);
  • Utilise MOOCs for skills development.

The identification of existing materials was undertaken by The Open University, a UK-based distance education institution, and Dida, an Italian-based business enterprise specialising in Learning Management Systems and eLearning content and training. There is, therefore, a bias towards English- and Italian-language content.

3. Project definition of “Learning to Learn”

Search the web and you will find there are many definitions of “learning to learn”. As Cornford (2002) argues, these skills are essential for effective lifelong learning to develop over the lifespan. For the purpose of this paper, the project definition has been used:

Learning to learn is related to learning, the ability to pursue and organise one’s own learning, either individually or in groups, in accordance with one’s own needs, and awareness of methods and opportunities.

Within the BizMOOC context, the project will focus on the ability to learn through MOOCs (how a learner can structure their own learning pathway, filter information relevant to them, identify and appraise appropriate MOOCs for their own learning progress) and to develop web literacies (Friedl, 2015).

4. OER and MOOC platforms

This sections highlights platforms where there is an existing relationship with the project partner, The Open University, and which offer content specific to the achievement of the basic competences highlighted previously.


OpenLearn is The Open University’s platform for its open and free online learning resources. Almost all content on OpenLearn is released under a Creative Commons licence. The website offers learning in all subject areas taught by the university, and the content ranges from text-based articles, to interactive games, to full online courses.

Since its launch in 2006, OpenLearn has come to attract more than 6 million unique visitors each year. It hosts thousands of hours of content, including (as at April 2018) over 900 free courses. All learners studying a free course are entitled to a free Statement of Participation if they complete a course and an OU-branded digital open badge if they pass the assessments on a Badged Open Course.

OpenLearn Create

OpenLearn Create (previously OpenLearn Works) was launched in January 2017 and enables anyone to both create and participate in/enroll onto open courses. Using Moodle the platform provides course creators with a range of functions and features including open badging, quizzes and certificates of participation. The platform is used by a number of Open University projects, particularly those where collaborative course creation is required. As at July 2018 there are 371 open courses available and 110,000 registered users on the OpenLearn Create platform.


FutureLearn is a private company owned by The Open University. As at July 2018 FutureLearn offers a diverse selection of online courses, programmes and degrees from 144 leading universities, institutions and partners. Since its launch in September 2013, and as at July 2018, over 8 million people have joined the platform and there are currently 258 courses available. FutureLearn courses vary in length, most run for six to ten weeks, but there are some courses that run for two to three weeks.

FutureLearn “believe[s] learning should be an enjoyable, social experience” so courses build in opportunities to discuss learning with others (FutureLearn, 2016). Most courses offer the option to purchase a Statement of Participation on completion, whereas other courses provide the option of taking an invigilated exam.

5. Existing courses

This section identifies some existing online courses that could help address the key competences “learning to learn”. The key features include whether the content is available as an OER (i.e. licensed under Creative Commons or other open licence); the volume of content (i.e. hours, weeks); and the focus of the content.

Title of course Platform Type of course Availability Key features
Learning to Learn OpenLearn Online course Self-paced Consists of 5 units; builds in reflection; 100 hours of learning; builds in study and workload planning skills; free; CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 (except for third party content)
Learning how to Learn OpenLearn Online course Self-paced 6 hours; focuses on increasing awareness of own learning; free; CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 (except for third party content)
Succeed with learning OpenLearn Badged open course Self-paced 8 weeks; 3 hours per week; focuses on how learning takes place, current skills and knowledge, developing an action plan; free; CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 (except for third party content)
Get started with online learning FutureLearn MOOC Regular presentations 2 weeks; 3 hours per week; focuses on what online learning is and the skills required; free; OU copyright
Leaders of Learning edX (Harvard) MOOC Self-paced 6 weeks duration; 2-4 hours per week; free; focuses on theories of learning; copyright
Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects Coursera MOOC Regular presentations 4 weeks duration; 4 hours of video, 3 hours of exercises, 3 hours of bonus material; copyright; fee-based model
Learning to Learn Udemy Online course Self-paced 27 lectures; 1 hour of video; provides techniques to understand and improve ability to learn; copyright, fee-based model
Learning How to Learn Udemy Online course Self-paced 27 lectures; 7 hours of video; focuses on mechanics of the brain; copyright, fee-based model
Learning Paths Mixed Self-paced Range of content in Italian and English; focus on strategies, skills and learning styles

6. Existing learning assets

This section identifies some existing learning assets that could help address the key competences “learning to learn”. The key features include whether the content is available under an open licence, and the focus of the content.

Title of asset Platform Type of asset Key features
Learning to change OpenLearn Audio Podcast collection; Creative Commons
15 free online learning sites every entrepreneur should visit Website Article Links to online learning sites
Barbara Oakley: “Learning How to Learn” | Talks at Google YouTube Video Standard YouTube licence
Impara ad Apprendere: Strumenti Mentali di Studio – Video Corso YouTube Video Creative Commons
Nicoletta Todesco, Brain Up: LA MEMORIA: Imparare ad imparare – parte 2 YouTube Video Technical training; standard YouTube licence
Come imparare a insegnare YouTube Video Technical training; standard YouTube licence
Apprendere la Matematica YouTube Video Technical training; standard YouTube licence
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXH4liLvTcKYd2SoYhV8LtPMC1ETg6ak- YouTube Video Standard YouTube licence
WebinarLAB: Imparare a usare i webinar in modo efficace, collaborativo e divertente! YouTube Video Technical training; Creative Commons
Didattica Metacognitiva per Imparare ad Imparare eBook Learning to learn; no copyright

7. Conclusion

Rather than provide a comprehensive review of all existing materials that relate to the acquisition of Lifelong Learning key competences, this paper has provided a taste of the types of content that are available. A large proportion of materials are available under an open licence, such as Creative Commons, which will enable reuse where appropriate.

With the availability of existing courses on the subject of “Learning to Learn” on large and high-profile platforms, the project will need to consider how its MOOC will provide something new and/or different for learners looking to develop their skills and knowledge in this area. It is also recommended that the project revisit and revise the lists of existing materials once the learning objectives for its MOOC have been agreed. This will help to focus the search for reusable content during the development phase.


Cornford, I. (2002) Learning-to-learn strategies as a basis for effective lifelong learning, International Journal of Lifelong Education, 21 (4), pp.357-368.

Friedl, C. (2015) Detailed project description [unpublished].

FutureLearn (2016) About [website]. Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/about

OpenLearn (2018) OpenLearn [website]. Available at: http://www.open.ac.uk/about/open-educational-resources/openlearn

OpenLearn Create (2018) Open Learn Create [website]. Available at: http://www.open.ac.uk/about/open-educational-resources/openlearn-create