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The Open University's free learning site turns 15 and reaches 100M visitors

A turtle swimming under water with the words OpenLearn above it

The Open University’s (OU) free learning site, OpenLearn is celebrating a milestone after clocking up 100 million visitors in the 15 years since it was launched.

Established as a trailblazing open educational resource, OpenLearn has successfully broken-down barriers to education, with over a thousand courses and 15,000 hours of educational interactives, videos and articles.

In the last two years, over 300,000 visits came from the Republic of Ireland, bolstered by a surge in traffic during the first COVID-19 lockdown.

With relevant, topical content created quickly, OpenLearn has attracted a wide audience from workers who were laid-off or short-time working and looking to upskill, students supporting their own learning, children struggling with home-schooling to healthcare professionals searching for advice.

During the first lockdown in March 2020, average daily visits to the site rose from 40,000 to a regular 160,000 per day.

With bite-size learning on every subject from ancient Greek to renewable energy, OpenLearn has worked with various partner organisations.

In 2021, the most popular content amongst Irish learners was:

  1. Introduction to child psychology (free course)
  2. 57 genders (and none for me?) - part two (article)
  3. Attachment in the early years (free course)
  4. Do you have a photographic memory? (interactive)
  5. Understanding autism (Badged course)
  6. Supporting children's mental health and wellbeing (Badged course)
  7. Exercise and mental health (free course)
  8. Children’s perspectives on play (free course)
  9. Introduction to bookkeeping and accounting (free course)
  10. Forensic psychology (Badged course)
  11. Early years team work and leadership (free course)
  12. Introduction to child psychology (free course)
  13. The science of nutrition and healthy eating (Badged course)
  14. Start writing fiction (free course)
  15. Hitler's rise and fall: timeline (article)

Vice-Chancellor of the OU, Professor Tim Blackman, commented: OpenLearn has come a long way since it started in 2006, with extraordinary growth in visitors and learners. It is a learning lifeline for millions of people across the UK and across the world. There are over 1000 free courses on a huge range of subjects as well as over 15,000 articles, interactive activities, podcasts and videos.

“This month we are celebrating reaching 100 million visitors, issuing our two millionth free certificate and awarding the two hundred thousandth digital badge.”

Director of the OU in Ireland, John D’Arcy, added: “OpenLearn has provided so many opportunities across Ireland for people to step into learning in a unique and accessible way. It really is a treasure trove of courses from ‘Understanding autism’ to ‘Forensic psychology’. OpenLearn brings to life our mission of being open to people, places, methods and ideas.  We are pleased to see 300,000 visits across Ireland and how it is growing every year.  We encourage anyone who has not explored this amazing resource to do so and learn something new and join the other 100 million learners today.”

To find out more about OpenLearn, please visit:

For media enquiries:

Contact Christine Murphy

Communications Officer
Tel +44 (0) 28 9053 6219