Digital education success as online courses reach 500,000 users

Online digital skills courses created in partnership with Leeds have seen a massive boost during lockdown.

Digital Skills for the Workplace saw a 2000% increase in enrolment during lockdown

A woman types at a computer in a study space. September 2020.

The Institute of Coding (IoC) has announced the success of online digital skills courses hosted on its FutureLearn platform, created in partnership with the University.

Half a million learners have enrolled on the Digital Skills for the Workplace course collection to date, which is an increase of 2000% since February 2020.

The collection offers 15 different courses on topics such as creating a professional online presence, basic computer programming and communication skills.

Designed for individuals who are looking to learn new skills and enhance their employability, these short courses have a particular focus on digital skills that are essential for the world of work.

Professor Neil Morris, Dean of Digital Education said: “It is fantastic to see these online courses proving so valuable to individuals who will be able to use the knowledge and skills gained to start, or progress, their careers.

“It is particularly pleasing to see these courses reaching, and appealing to, people who have not traditionally engaged with Massive Open Online Courses.

“This is a testament to the teams involved in designing and creating the courses who have used our research in this area to ensure they represent and portray the target audience, and offer engaging, interactive, learning opportunities inclusive to all.”

Professional Impact

The impact these courses could have on learners’ professional lives, especially as the UK recovers from the disruption to employment caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, has also been recognised by the Department for Education, which featured six of the fifteen courses developed by the IoC, FutureLearn and the University of Leeds in its new online platform called The Skills Toolkit.

Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage said: “I'm pleased such a diverse group of learners is reaping the benefits of these fantastic courses and I urge anyone looking to improve their digital know-how to sign up.

"Our digital economy can help power the UK's economic recovery from coronavirus and we are determined to make sure everyone can develop the digital skills they need to succeed in the workplace."

Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, also praised the courses: “It is wonderful to see so many people from a wide range of backgrounds are engaging with online learning to boost their knowledge. Online courses, such as those on The Skills Toolkit, are an excellent way to gain the vital digital and numeracy skills most valued by employers.

“With 82% of all job openings requiring at least basic digital skills it is more important than ever that people are able to build their confidence and learn the skills they need to succeed.

“I’d encourage anyone looking to learn some new skills or boost their knowledge, from graduates to those already in the workplace, to go online and take advantage of the wide range of free, high-quality courses available.”

Widened Participation

‘Digital Skills for the Workplace’ draws heavily on input from industry experts and, according to the findings of an IoC survey, has proved to be attractive to a wide variety of participants, including:

  • women (47% of surveyed learners are women - a marked improvement from the gender split last year in more traditional digital skill education, where only 16% of computer science graduates were women according to WISE 2019 data),
  • people outside of the traditional university age cohort (more than half of surveyed learners are over the age of 25), and
  • people who are looking for work, as well as those looking to learn new skills in an existing role (19% of surveyed learners are unemployed or looking for work and 48% are working full or part-time or are self-employed).

Participants on the courses have praised the informative nature of the content, as well as the benefits of specific aspects like the peer-review exercises.

People also valued the bite-sized format of the courses and the fact they provided skills that can be added to CVs. 

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