Will Futurelearn Become The Just Eat of Education?

Post date: Apr 8, 2017 12:13:16 PM

Some have theorised that fast food ordering app Just Eat's 'end game' is to sell and deliver their own food (and potentially no longer having 3rd parties on the site), like some argue that taxi app Uber's end game is the self-driving taxi (getting rid of their casual worker drivers). It's arguable that Just Eat's major competitor Deliveroo has already begun the process of disintermediation (aka 'cutting out the middleman') in food delivery by creating their own kitchen infrastructure.

Something similar may also be happening in the world of online education.

Futurelearn.com (FL) offers free online courses created by their partners including the likes of the University of Reading. The University of Reading's paper leaflet promoting it's courses on Futurelearn lists the FL site, not reading.ac.uk. Surely a missed opportunity for the site currently ranking 14th on google.co.uk for 'free online courses'!

Institutions like University of Reading all link to the FL site, and FL's offer of free online courses from these institutions has earned them many many (from over 12k domains according to majestic.com) links from many of the world's most popular sites (like bbc.co.uk, guardian.co.uk, telegraph.co.uk – also arguably some of the most trusted sites in Google's eyes too), boosting the visibility of the FL site on Google etc. At time of writing FL is ranking 6th on google.co.uk for the phrase 'university of reading'...

What if (theoretically) FL went bust and sold the Futurelearn.com domain? What if (theoretically) FL were to delete all partner content from the site and then create new content with paid content from themselves & new partners?

A sensible strategy in the medium / long term for FL partners in my view should be disintermediation (stopping the use of intermediaries like FL between producers like University of Reading' and consumers like the free online course students) along the lines of Open Courseware from MIT. With intermediaries you may always be vulnerable to their actions!