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How to start a course

Updated Monday, 1 February 2021
Are you wondering about how to enrol, start or complete an OpenLearn course? Look no further, we're here to help!

Screenshot of OpenLearn courses

What are the free OpenLearn courses?

There are nearly 1,000 courses on OpenLearn, all of which are currently free to study.

OpenLearn courses cover a wide range of subjects taught across the OU curriculum. Many are based on Open University course materials while others are written specifically for OpenLearn.

All of our courses enable you to earn a Statement of participation and some also allow you to earn a free digital badge. You can use your badge or Statement of participation to share your achievement with others, although they do not carry any formal credit towards a qualification.

Find out more and explore our free courses here.

How do I start a course?

Once you have created an account, you can browse the hundreds of courses available of OpenLearn and select one that you interested in studying. Open the course and click on the enrol button. You will receive an email saying you are enrolled on that particular course. The starting point is the Introduction, under 'Course content'. You then navigate through the course either using the left hand navigation, or the 'Next' and 'Previous' buttons.

Further help can be found in Advantages of signing up onto a free course.

How do I find out how much of the course I've done?

If you are enrolled on a course, you will see a progress tracking bar as you work through the course. The tracking bar will reach 100% when you have viewed all of the pages of the course and you have completed any quizzes and assessments, if they are available on that course.

You can also use the Content screen to see which pages and sections you have completed. Scroll down to 'Expand all content' and you will see ticks alongside each completed element.

From your OpenLearn profile you can find any courses that you have enrolled on, but not yet completed, in the 'In Progress' section. Alongside each course you should find a link the 'Activity Record' for that course, which will also show you which sections have been completed. 

I’m enrolled but the course progress tracker is not updating?

To make sure that your progress through a course is recorded properly, please ensure that you have enrolled on the course. It is possible to move back and forth through OpenLearn courses, meaning that some pages and quizzes may be missed. Please check that you have clicked through all the pages of the course and have submitted all required quizzes so that progress is tracked and the Statement of participation and badge for the course (if available) can be awarded.

How do I return to where I left off?

When you access the 'Introduction' section, a session or week of a course, you will see a blue box above the text that provides a link to the last page you viewed.

In your My OpenLearn profile, click on ‘In progress’. You will then see a list of all the courses you have started but not completed and the date you last accessed them. If you click on 'Activity Record' you can see which parts of the course you have started or completed.

Alternatively, if you click on the course title and then the 'Course contents' tab, you can click directly through to the parts of the course you have completed, started or are yet to start.

What happens once I've completed my course?

After completing the course it will move into the 'Achievements' section of your OpenLearn profile. You will receive an email congratulating you and telling you that your Statement of participation is now available in your OpenLearn profile. Please allow up to 24 hours for this to happen. You can then download, share and print the Statement of participation if you want to.

Please note that if you have downloaded the OpenLearn course as one of the many alternative formats (e.g. Word or PDF) that are available then you will not receive a Statement of participation.

Find out more about Statements of participation.

How can I contact you?

Before you contact us, please bear in mind that we are a small team working with limited resources, so do please check the FAQs first to see whether this answers your question.

If you can't find the answer that you are looking for, please contact us at and we will try to respond as soon as possible.


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