Director of Partnerships Development, FutureLearn
Mark Lester is the co-founder and Director of Partnerships at FutureLearn, one of the world’s foremost massive open online course (MOOC) platforms. He has been responsible for growing FutureLearn’s partnerships, which currently stands at over 150 leading research-intensive universities worldwide and specialist organisations such as Yad Vashem, the British Council and Cancer Research UK. In his position, he regularly advises senior university executives on the evolving higher education landscape, digital strategy and internationalisation. He has spoken regularly at industry conferences in Australia, the US, Africa and Europe on developments around the impact of new technology in education and the emergence of new forms of credential to support professional lifelong learning. Finally, Mark heads up FutureLearn’s new online degrees area and was integral in FutureLearn’s partnership with Deakin University in Australia, Coventry University in the UK, and Murdoch University in Australia to bring fully online degrees to the FutureLearn platform.
Mark sits on the Academic Advisory Board of elearnAfrica, a social enterprise working with the Association of African Universities and the African Union to help local universities develop digital curricula and widen access to quality education in Africa. He is founder of, and FutureLearn’s representative on, the European MOOC Consortium (EMC), which works to support the application and recognition of large scale digital learning across Europe. He is on the Senior Management Board of a major DFID-British Council project aimed at supporting access to higher education for 20,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. He also sits on the research advisory board of a research project led by Leeds University on The Unbundled University, a joint research study into the impact of digital technology on the changing nature of higher education in South Africa and England.
Prior to joining FutureLearn, Mark headed the strategy unit at the Open University in the UK where he shaped their international growth strategy. He has held senior management positions in the British financial services sector, and in the UK Government in the department for business, innovation and skills. Before that, he worked for several years as a managing consultant at leading US strategy consultancy, Monitor Group, working on strategic business and policy challenges for governments and multinational enterprises in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He has advised the Governments of Israel, Singapore and the UK on its biotechnology investment strategy, healthcare financing policy and innovation strategy, respectively.
About FutureLearn: www.futurelearn.com
Founded by The Open University in 2012, FutureLearn is a leading social learning company, enabling online learning through conversation. The platform currently has over 7.5 million people signed up, from over 230 countries around the world.
FutureLearn partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities as well as organisations such as Accenture, the British Council, European Space Agency, Houses of Parliament, Raspberry Pi and Cancer Research UK.
In 2018, there are over 1,300 course runs scheduled including free and paid-for courses as well as fully online postgraduate degrees that promote lifelong learning and continuing professional development.