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Skip Journalism School: 50 Free Open Courses

By Nicole White

Ambitious journalists don't have to worry about affording extra education when free open courses are available for anyone to take online. Spend some time studying and exploring the various aspects of journalism with these classes before forging your own future as a journalist. These courses will help you learn about writing, reporting, photojournalism, multimedia, and more.

Writing, Reporting, and Communication From improving your grammar to learning to connect with other cultures to strengthening communication skills, these classes will improve your ability to connect with others.

  1. Cleaning Your Copy. Learn to correct your grammar, spelling, and stylistic mistakes with the information in this class specifically for aspiring journalists. [News University]
  2. BBC News Style Guide. This class covers the style guide used at BBC News to help writers become more effective writers. [BBC Training & Development]
  3. Writing and Experience: Culture Shock! Writing, Editing, and Publishing in Cyberspace. Explore American pop culture while learning to write for an online audience in this course. [MIT]
  4. Beat Basics and Beyond. Find out the basics about working a beat and get tips from veteran reporters in this course. [News University]
  5. Technology for Professional Writers. This course teaches important technology skills for writers who may not have a background in technology. [Utah State University]
  6. Seminar in Deep Engagement. Using a variety of different of media forms, learn about human engagement, how it works, and how to create the deeper engagements people strive to obtain. [MIT]
  7. Using Internet Communications. Study theories of communication as they relate to the Internet in this course. [UMass Boston]
  8. Visualizing Cultures. Explore cultural perceptions with regards to racism, nationalism, war, and propaganda while studying the opening of Japan by Commodore Perry. [MIT]
  9. Communicating Across Cultures. Learn the effects of globalization on society and find out how you can become more culturally sensitive to those around you through the lessons in this course. [MIT]
  10. Key skill assessment: communication. This class offers an opportunity to practice communication skills through a variety of modes including speaking, listening, reading, and writing. [The Open University]
  11. Argumentation and Communication. Learn the art of presentation and persuasion through the written word in this class. [MIT]
  12. Foundations of Language and Communications. This communications course emphasizes reading, writing, and presentation skills. [Western Governors University]

Writing about Specific Issues These classes will help you practice writing about specific issues such as the environment, social issues, and celebrities.

  1. Writing about Nature and Environmental Issues. Students study the environmentalist essays and keep a blog of their own writings following the same form. [MIT]
  2. Classical Rhetoric and Modern Politics. Learn to read, think, and write critically in this class that studies the formal art of persuasion. [MIT]
  3. Writing about Race. By studying writings and films that document and illustrate issues surrounding people of color, learn to reach a higher level of understanding that will enhance your ability to communicate effectively when touching on the difficult subject of race relations. [MIT]
  4. Expository Writing: Analyzing Mass Media. Explore the impact of mass media on American culture while learning to write an effective persuasive essay. [MIT]
  5. Becoming Digital: Writing About Media Change. This class examines the shift to digital media, exploring how specific areas such as business, communication, and entertainment have changed significantly. [MIT]
  6. Expository Writing: Social and Ethical Issues in Print, Photography and Film. Students will study film and literature as a springboard to learning how to strengthen writing skills to create well-reasoned arguments and a professional product. [MIT]
  7. Consumer Culture. Explore the trend of American consumerism while improving writing skills. [MIT]
  8. Expository Writing – Food for Thought: Writing and Reading about Food and Culture. Strengthen your writing skills while studying the ways food and culture are connected in various societies. [MIT]
  9. Understanding media: the celebrity in the text. If your journalism will take you into the world of celebrities, then you won't want to miss this class takes that provides a close examination of how information about celebrities is disseminated. [The Open University]
  10. Current Events and Social Issues. While this class covers events from 2004, many of the topics are still relevant and offer an excellent opportunity to explore important social issues as they relate to current events. [MIT]

Photography Whether you aspire to become a photojournalist or are seeking a journalism job where you handle both photos and the written word, these classes are sure to teach you valuable information.

  1. Documentary Photography and Photo Journalism: Still Images of A World In Motion. Students study great documentary photographers and photojournalists, then embark on their own photo documentary project, including both photographs and written papers. [MIT]
  2. Best of Photojournalism: What Makes a Winner. This course goes behind the scenes at the National Press Photographers Association Best of Photojournalism contest in 2006 to examine what makes quality photojournalism. [News University]
  3. Sensing Place: Photography as Inquiry. Find out how to express yourself and your ideas through photography of a variety of landscapes. [MIT]
  4. Handling Horrible Images: eSeminar Replay. Photojournalists can be faced with difficult decisions when it comes to choosing which images to including in their stories. Take this class to find out how to make the right choices. [News University]
  5. Picturing the family. Learn how to analyze historical family photos through examination of technical details and cultural aspects captured in the photos. [The Open University]
  6. Photography and Related Media. Appropriate for both beginners and advanced photographers, this class teaches practical applications of photography as well as how images are produced both technically and culturally. [MIT]
  7. Photography and Truth. Explore photography as a method of documentation and exploration as both an art form and a research tool. [MIT]
  8. Literary Interpretation: Literature and Photography: The Image. Through a study of literature, photography, and film, students will explore history and literary themes captured in each. [MIT]
  9. Reading visual images. Students will use photography to help learn and explore history and social science in this course. [The Open University]
  10. Language of the Image. This journalism class teaches students the important task of communicating through images. [News University]

Videography and Multimedia The days of black and white photos in the newspaper are long gone. Improve your skills working with video and multimedia as a journalist.

  1. Producing Films for Social Change. This class challenges students to research, report, write, shoot, and edit their own documentary highlighting a social issue affecting a community–small or large. [Tufts University]
  2. Audiovisual Production Learning Club. This community-based class explores how to produce and distribute a variety of multimedia including photography, videography, music production, and more. [The Open University]
  3. Introduction to Video. Work on projects that will develop your skills as a videographer and video editor. The class culminates with a final project of personal storytelling through video. [MIT]
  4. Advanced Projects in the Visual Arts: Personal Narrative. A continuation from Introduction to Video, this class teaches students about creating a movie through exploring narrative in cinema through completion of student projects. [MIT]
  5. Five Steps to Multimedia Storytelling. Learn about audio, video, and graphics in this class that focuses on recording, taping, and editing for Internet content. [News University]
  6. Understanding Television. Students will explore the cultural evolution of television and its impact on society. [MIT]
  7. Good Shooting Guide: the basic principles. Explore the basics on shooting video footage that will result in a top quality piece. [BBC Training & Development]
  8. Multimedia Reporting: Covering Breaking News. Examine the journalism of six online news agencies reporting during Hurricane Katrina in order to learn more about reporting breaking news in a multimedia environment. [News University]
  9. Media Industries and Systems. Find out about the trends, audience, and creative process as important forces shaping content in media industries and systems. [MIT]
  10. Topics in Cinematic Storytelling. Get a solid foundation learning how to communicate a storyline through visual mediums in this course. [MIT]

Doing the Right Thing Journalists must know and understand the copyright laws, freedom of information, and ethics so that they are doing right by themselves and those about whom they report. Take these classes to gain that knowledge.

  1. Freedom of Information. Learn about the Freedom of Information Act, Public Records Laws, and your rights to information in this journalism class. [News University]
  2. Ethics Part 1 and Ethics Part 2. This two-part class examines the history and evolution of ethics from the early days to current ethical theories. [Western Governors University]
  3. Introduction to Copyright Law. Discover the basics of copyright law in this class that offers a strong emphasis on Internet-related topics. [MIT]
  4. Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Online Publishers. Bloggers and other online writers need to learn about defamation, privacy, and copyright as it pertains to online publishing, and this class covers it all. [News University]
  5. Information Law and Policy. This course teaches students about copyright law, protecting databases, licensing of information, privacy and more. [UC Berkeley]
  6. Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier. Law, policy, and technology meet in this course that discusses several areas concerning the Internet and law. [MIT]
  7. Literature, Ethics, and Authority. Students use literature and film as a backdrop for a study of ethics in this course. [MIT]