Lockdown surge in free online learning results in milestone for University of Derby

11 June 2020

The number of people enrolling on free online courses offered by the University of Derby has reached 100,000 – with thousands of new learners signing up for Massive Open Online Courses – or MOOCs – during the coronavirus lockdown.

Hundreds of enrolments each week became thousands from late March, following the government’s decision to put the country in lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

By the end of the first week of lockdown on Friday 27 March, recorded enrolments were 500% up compared with the previous seven days.

The demand for new knowledge focused particularly on psychology courses, potentially reflecting the pressures arising from the sudden shift in living arrangements, impacting homes across the country.

During April, the University recorded an average of more than 3,000 new enrolments for MOOCs each week. The highest number of enrolments in a single week was 4,788.

More than 70,000 people have now enrolled on the University’s Understanding Autism, Asperger's and ADHD course, with thousands more registering for other courses on mental and physical health issues and GDPR data protection skills.

Julie Stone, Associate Pro-Vice Chancellor and Director of University of Derby Online Learning, said: “This is a significant milestone for the University. Crucially, it underlines our commitment to maximising access to high quality learning for anyone wanting to broaden their knowledge as MOOCs are free and are open to everyone regardless of age, background, education level and location.

“While our courses are available to all via the internet, we know that learners enrolling on our MOOCs are overwhelmingly from the UK. It is encouraging to see that so many people from across the country have been keen to use to the additional time they may have because of the lockdown to learn new skills, which will benefit them either when they are able to return to their careers and workplaces, or in their personal lives.

“It also demonstrates the deep interest there is in developing a better understanding of autism and depression, which may have been particularly affected by the restrictions of the lockdown. It is pleasing to see that people are clearly recognising that the expertise of our academics can help them to achieve that.”

The University’s range of short, accessible MOOCs was launched in 2016 to enable people to enhance their personal and professional development and learn new skills.

The University of Derby’s MOOCs are learner-led, self-guided online courses made up of short units. Learners gain a digital badge per unit and an e-certificate of CPD credit hours, accredited by the Continuing Professional Development Standards Office, at the end of the course.

In addition to the open MOOCs, the University has been commissioned by NHS England and Health Education England to offer a course specifically for pharmacists who have been redeployed to help provide clinician support for the NHS 111 service during the coronavirus outbreak.

For more information about MOOCs and other opportunities to study online with the University of Derby, visit the University website

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