Simon Nelson is Chief Executive of FutureLearn, the leading social learning platform and first UK-based provider of massive open online courses (MOOCs), which has now evolved to offer fully online degrees.
FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform formed in December 2012 by The Open University with the mission to Transform Access To Education. It is now the largest online learning platform in Europe with over eight and a half million people signed up worldwide. FutureLearn uses design, technology and partnerships to create enjoyable, credible and flexible online courses and postgraduate degrees that improve working lives. It partners with a quarter of the world’s top universities, as well as organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, CIPD, and Raspberry Pi.
In May 2015, FutureLearn delivered the biggest single run of a MOOC ever, with a record of more than 440,000 people signing up for the IELTs course from the British Council. In May 2016, FutureLearn launched its first credit-bearing MOOCs as well as its first partnerships with key educational institutions in America. This was followed by announcements of its partnership with Deakin University in December 2016 and Coventry University in June 2017, offering a suite of fully online degrees. In October 2018, FutureLearn and The University of Newcastle, Australia announced the first undergraduate online degree on the FutureLearn platform.
The company was named “Start-up of the Year” at the 2014 British Interactive Media Awards and won ‘Best Education or Learning Experience” and overall ‘Best User Experience’ categories at the 2015 UXUK Awards. The company also won ‘Free Digital Content/Open Educational Resources’ category at the BETT 2017 Awards and in 2018, FutureLearn won the EdTechXGlobal All Stars Growth Award.
In October 2016, Simon Nelson was invited to deliver the annual President’s Lecture for the Royal Society of Arts in London, sharing his thoughts on the future of education and the opportunities that digital platforms present.
Simon Nelson has a background in digital disruption as a pioneer in taking media brands and content online. He spent 14 years at the BBC, where he was instrumental in putting radio online, and overseeing its podcasting service and the innovative Radio Player. He then moved to head up all digital content activities for its television divisions where he led the development of the BBC iPlayer and other ground-breaking online products and services.
Simon and his teams have won multiple awards for digital innovation and product development, including several Emmys, Webby and Bafta awards, the Prix Italia, Prix Europa and Rose D’or.