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MIT's Free Online Film and Media Courses

08.11.10 @ 9:48AM Tags : , ,

MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program is part of MIT’s OpenCourseWare initiative, wherein the top-tier school posts extensive course materials online. One of the reasons I named this site NoFilmSchool is because I didn’t think it made sense for me (and I’m not saying this is true for everyone) to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to film school. But what if one of the most respected universities in the country posted their film and media courses online, for free?

MIT’s goal with the Comparative Media Studios program is:

To prepare students for jobs that don’t yet exist. We consult regularly with leaders in industry, the arts, public policy, journalism, education, and the nonprofit sector, trying to understand contemporary developments, identify job and internship opportunities, and pinpoint skills and knowledge which will help prepare our students for new opportunities.

Sounds great, right? Potentially-interesting courses available online include:

From a cursory exploration of the above courses, it seems some have multimedia components (e.g. videos of lectures, as below) and others do not. Video content might be a curse more than a blessing, however, as lectures recorded on video — free of context and live interaction — are even drier than they would be in a real classroom. Exhibit A:

‘Tis a bit dry, no? In theory, MIT posting many of their courses online represents a great opportunity for (film) students who might not otherwise have the academic pedigree or financial wherewithal to attend the school. But in practice — that is to say, when I actually sift through the materials — I’m immediately reminded of why this site is named what it’s named.

Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s great that MIT is sharing this material free of charge (and under the same creative commons license with which I’ve licensed NoFilmSchool content). But I’m curious to hear what others think about these courses — are any of you interested in virtually enrolling?

Link: MIT OpenCourseWare Comparative Media Studies

[via FilmmakerIQ]


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

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  • I’m very interested in enrolling. I actually did go to film school for screenwriting, but these courses have sparked my interest. I will definitely check out Media in Transition and perhaps Film as Visual and Literary Mythmaking. Thanks for the article.

  • Oh man. Watching this clip reminds me of why I’ve got something of a love/hate relationship with academia. As you say, it’s great that MIT’s offering this for free…as for its actual value…I’m not so sure. So in answer to your question, no, I doubt I’ll be spending much time watching these things. I’ve spent enough time navel-gazing…it’s time to get out there and do it.

  • I’m very interested in these courses, as I’ve already done a number of free online courses from Yale. It’s amazing that these schools are making this information available for free when their students pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to go there. It doesn’t make sense to spend so much money on college when there are cheaper ways of getting the same information.

  • DAAKYEHENE - ABABIO on 07.15.12 @ 6:03PM

    Please sir
    i will like to study more about my acting career please help me no more, thank you.

  • Andrew A.G.C Mossima on 08.19.12 @ 5:00PM

    I’m glad to come acrossed such a school that is offering my courses free online.
    If and only the Authorities of this noble institution can permit me to persuade my
    filming course, i’ll forever remain grateful.

    Andrew A.G.C. Mossima.

  • I am glad I came through this. I am in a film school, but I still feel I need something more to learn from and to be a good film maker.
    I would like to study more about direction and script writing,


  • This is a valuable resource that I will be taking advantage of. There is nothing like getting out there and doing it (which I do) but I love the idea of being able to tap into further education (free) as well.

  • I enrolled for some of an open source writing course at Course Era and dropped out midway!! It seemed a bit of a drag to me, the professors seemed a bit pompous and I couldn’t relate to it.

    In course era, finding a course that met my exact requirements was a problem and often the video lectures were too complex or covered what I already knew. I am planning to try one of the courses listed here.

  • Jules Joseph on 02.5.13 @ 2:30PM

    Thanks for this invaluable information! I will definitely be checking it out as I am just starting out and looking to make a career change from social work to something more creative. I’ve made a couple of ‘homemade’ docs on my own about my homeless clients, without any formal training – just gut feeling! I loved every minute of filming/directing/editing! These free courses may help me in my decision moving forward: MSW or Film studies??

    Thanks again!
    Jules Joseph
    Toronto, ON

  • Ryan. It never caeses to amaze me – the expectations by marketers that teachers and academics should turn into a stage act, or disappear. How disrespectful and ignorant. This attitude can only be labeled deeply superficial and should be outlawed. If the target market is totally uneducated people, it will work – to the detriment of real work and a real world.
    Why should academics have to produce the same level of entertainment as the entertainment industry itself? Actors don’t research content to present lectures every day, or publish papers – they worry only about image management, because someone else provides the content. Academics haven’t the benefit of the production team, lighting, wardrobe, budget, titles, editing, writers, co-actors and a week to prepare each and every episode, not to mention drama training.of actors. This is NOT because tney haven’t a clue about presentation, but because they spend their lives finding out stuff, rather than honing their images as presenters. There just aint enough time in the day!
    Are YOU prepared to pay the taxes to turn universities into Late-Nite-Live?? If not, then stop whinging and get learning. Get real, people!! Yes, lectures can be dry. Boo hoo. Think on this – content is content, WHAT the guy says is the point. Did you listen? Have you read any of the texts, heard the music he talks about, or seen the films? I have. I’m a musician but don’t expect everyone else to be, I’ve had both dry and entertaining lectures. So what. The content is the point. If ‘style is all that matters’, becomes a legit. marketing pitch by schools of learning, then naiive, uneducated people who buy this line in the name of ‘education’ are exploited as victims! SHAME on you for acquiescing!!
    Knowledge and creating are not marketing exercises – but a lot of study, and thinking, without anyone telling you what to do or telling you any jokes, or thanking you, or entertaining you. If Beethoven worried about looks we’d not have his 9th symphony, just the marketing pitch!
    Actually this guy fascinates me – such low key presentation, yet concepts of gravitas to listen to. He’s older, not attempting to pander to the media, doesn’t tell jokes. So?? Isn’t it entertaining in itself, that he doesn’t give a hoot? How refreshing! His style is to know a lot, not please a crowd. Get with HIS style – WHAT he has to say. Benefit – then move on, the next lecturer will have a different style. Otherwise It’ll be ‘Soylent Green’ very soon! (when all people over thirty regardless of their use to society are declared undesirable, useful only for their remains, and are ground up to provide food for the young… See the film!)

    • Hi. C. Lock! What’s your point?
      Do you recommend to study this free online tuition or not?

  • Desmond Ekeh on 05.10.13 @ 1:38PM

    please could you trow more light on the 100 resources

  • I am very interested in both the classes on this subject and in checking out online learning.

    How can I register? When do courses begin?

  • I am interested in your online courses but wonder if any certificates will be awarded?