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The Open University’s free learning platform receives record number of visitors

As people across Northern Ireland come to grips with staying at home and social distancing, many are turning to learning new things online to occupy some of their time.

OpenLearn, The Open University’s home of free learning, is experiencing record numbers of visitors to the site.  Usually recording an average of 40,000 visits per day, during the first week of schools and businesses being closed over 160,000 people each day were taking advantage of the free content and courses on offer.  In Northern Ireland alone the site saw four times more traffic than normal.

The site offers everyone a chance to explore a variety of topics, from teaching online and courses designed to aid mental and physical health, to family friendly interactive animations and quizzes, OpenLearn provides thousands of pages of content to help you.

The OpenLearn platform was set up by The OU as a commitment to support the wellbeing of the community and now more than ever that is proving to be the case.


John D’Arcy, National Director for The Open University in Ireland, said:

“The increasing changes we are having to make because of the coronavirus has created a demand for educational content online and for easy ways to stay informed, inspired, engaged and entertained in this time of need.

“The Open University has always been present in peoples’ homes and has long been a front-runner in distance learning, specifically online. OpenLearn is a valuable free resource for many people here – in the academic year 2018/19 65,474 unique browser visits. We hope it can help even more people, families and communities across Northern Ireland in these unprecedented times.”


There are a range of popular modules being accessed every day from the educational resources of ‘How to take your teaching online’ and ‘Digital literacy: An OpenLearn collection’, to study preparation through ‘Skills for study’ and even work-based skills via the ‘Skills for work’ section.

The most popular courses during this last month in Northern Ireland have been: Forensic Psychology; Attachment in the early years; Intro to child psychology; Making sense of mental health; and Take your teaching online.

The busiest locations for learners on OpenLearn are Belfast, Newtownabbey, Ballymena and Londonderry.

OpenLearn’s vision is to break down the barriers to education by reaching millions of learners each year through free educational resources. ​These free learning resources are core to the OU’s social mission as they overcome the main barriers of access, a lack of confidence and cost.  OpenLearn helps to overcome these challenges and encourage learning in bite-size experiences to suit anyone.

For media enquiries:

Contact Christine Murphy

Communications Manager
Tel 028 9053 6219