Ravensbourne partner with FutureLearn on cutting-edge courses

FutureLearn creative partners
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Ravensbourne University London have partnered with FutureLearn to offer an innovative, ground-breaking expert track, supported by CreativeUK. BA (Hons) Advertising and Brand Design Course Leader, Derek Yates created the courses, utilising the expertise of award-winning creatives who are revolutionising the industry right now.

Learners can study the following four courses:

  1. Brand Strategy & Communication with Moving Brands
  2. Strategic Design for Social Media with Wilderness Agency
  3. Creating Strategies for Influencer Marketing with Kairos Media
  4. Creative communication beyond VR & AR with The Office of Future Interactions

The courses are up to the minute with content that is relevant, covering everything from utilising influencers to building virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality into communication campaigns. Learners are encouraged to explore creative communication in the metaverse and challenge themselves to prepare for the emerging digital landscape.

We caught up with Derek Yates, to find out more about these exciting new expert tracks.

Symbols to represent each Futurelearn course

How did the partnerships begin?
I came across FutureLearn about two years ago. They’re a really interesting organisation and one of the forerunners of online learning. They invited tutors to propose a course with a BIMA member. BIMA is the British Interactive Media Association so I put in a bid with DINES, the founder of a studio called Studio Blup and we were successful.

I partnered with DINES to launch a course called Digital Storytelling which was made up of a series of films talking about designing for social media and how you can build engagement through storytelling.

Then last summer, Creative UK offered funding for an Expert Track, which is a series of new courses that FutureLearn have created, designed to address skills gaps within the creative industries.

I came up with the idea of partnering with specialists across a number of areas to address the skills gaps within digital communication. I did some research and spoke to a load of agencies and identified a skills gap around creative strategy design for this area.

A meeting between Matt Wade and Derek Yates

What are the courses like?
Within the four stages of the Expert Track, we teach learners how to create cohesive communication around a brand and how to structure campaigns to effectively utilise platforms like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. We explore how to work with influencers and think about the possibilities in the immersive technologies that are evolving around the metaverse. The course speaks to people who will commission digital communication as well as people that create digital communication.

We worked out that virtual reality, augmented reality and XR are really important new areas for digital communication. So we partnered with agencies that are working in this area to understand how immersive technologies are building a whole new world.

How up to date is the teaching?
These areas are evolving all the time and the design of the course was adapted to these changes as we were writing it. I included a short feature about how Facebook was planning for the metaverse and then, literally, as I pressed send on the final course, they announced they were changing their name to Meta! So, I had to go back to the course and update it to account for this. It's really up to the minute relevant, and because it's online it means that we can continually update it. The course reflects Ravensbourne’s values of connection and relevance.

Meeting between Safiya and Derek

Who are the courses aimed at?
Our target audience is very broad actually – the course is perfect for someone who just wants to start out and get some knowledge, but it would also be useful for somebody who is already working in the area and wants to deepen their understanding.

The course is relevant for a range of creatives. For example, it's ideal if you're a print designer that wants to understand how to move your practice away from books and printed matter into digital communication channels or a Graphic Design student interested in typography and layout, who wants to understand how these skills can be applied to a digital context. We welcome career changers who want to examine something they haven't had the opportunity to look at before.

We also welcome students from all around the world. One of the most amazing things about FutureLearn is that it is literally global. I looked at the student data yesterday and there are people from Azerbaijan, Nigeria. Japan, North America, South America…The platform allows these students to share ideas online, so we can create truly a global community of learners, which is really exciting.

Derek Yates meets with a creative

How are the courses structured and delivered?
There are three weeks of study in each course and within each week there are roughly 12 - 14 short learning steps. Each step will probably take somebody between 10 minutes to half an hour to complete. Students access a mixture of film, online articles, quizzes, and exercises which are peer reviewed. They have loads of opportunities to test their knowledge and understanding. As I said earlier, there is also a community section. The participants can share their knowledge, discuss their work with each other and ask questions.

Is there any cross-pollination from your BA teaching and FutureLearn experience?
Absolutely. I've learned a ton of stuff from writing the course and could use lots of ideas from my teaching at Ravensbourne to make it better. Working with people like Moving Brands, Wilderness, Kairos and the Office of Future Interactions has made me consider how we can incorporate their ideas into exciting projects and course innovations for Advertising and Brand Design. We have even been thinking about possibly hosting a Degree Show in the metaverse.

It’s been a great opportunity to connect with fantastic agencies. For example, Kairos Media bring gaming influencers together with brands like Pizza Hut and KFC. They even created a gaming console that was made by KFC. It went viral and KFC ended making the console commercially, it has a heated drawer to keep chicken warm!

I'm a course leader within Ravensbourne, but I'm connected to people that are at that forefront of the industry. Through me, my students can build connections with these people, for example, Matt Wade, the former ECD of Google Creative Lab in New York. He's somebody I've worked with for nearly two decades.

Derek Yates and a creative

Sounds like these courses are a nice example of the Ravensbourne legacy
Definitely - the course is definitely made for Ravensbourne, by Ravensbourne! BA (Hons) Advertising & Brand Design alumni, Michael Bailey, Charlie George Baker and Tayo Onabule from Drewl, edited and produced the videos. Current Advertising & Brand Design third year students, Oscar Sandqvist and Bryony Jones, created the visual identity and motion graphics. The course is a product of the Ravensbourne family. The connection we have with our students doesn’t end at graduation.

Do have any advice for students who don’t know what to study?
I think that often applicants think in terms of the subjects that they've studied at A-Levels or, you know, the subjects that they are familiar with from their school experience. This can be limiting and it is often difficult to connect these subjects to the skills required by an ever-evolving world economy.

So, I'd say to people, really try to think beyond the picture that’s been painted of the world by your school. Don't think in terms of just progressing within the subjects that you previously studied. Think about what you want to do with your life, where you want to work and how you want to work. Look at where the growth areas are. For example, in an area like UX/UI they cannot get enough graduates to fill the jobs that are available and yet many school leavers are not even aware that this subject exists!

Finally, who are the creatives that you’re most excited about right now?
I mentioned him earlier, but I’m so impressed by Studio Blup, which was founded by DINES. I created the Digital Storytelling course on Futurelearn with DINES and he has worked with Ravensbourne for around 5 years as an advisor and collaborator. Studio Blup work with brands like Ciroc, EA Sports, Adidas, MTV and Nike. As a young, black creative DINES taps into the new culture we’re creating in London – diverse, vibrant and dynamic. His work is super relevant, very Ravensbourne, and he is indicative of where the industry is going. 

I’m also really blown away by Accept and Proceed. They’ve earned the prestigious B-Corp status by developing a sustainable practice and treating their staff amazingly well. They have zero carbon emissions and even recently worked with NASA! And guess what, their co-founder, Matt Jones, is a Ravensbourne alumnus too.

You can find out more about the innovative FutureLearn courses here.
You can register for a free 7-day trial of the courses here.

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