100 Awesome Open Courses for New Media Scholars

by Staff Writers

By Kathleen Baker

New Media Studies has become increasingly popular in as a college major with the ever faster implementation of new technologies in recent years. For those who are unfamiliar, New media studies explores the possibilities of new digital media in communication, education and other social, political and intellectual facets, though the field itself is quite open ended. These free open courseware offerings will serve those who are already studying new media, who have an interest in the subject, and even those who know nothing about it at all. Check out this list of 100 courses to learn more about the many facets of new media and gain a better understanding of the type of material it encompasses.


These courses will teach you the basics about communication as well as offering some education and insight on new communication technologies and their potential.

  1. Argumentation and Communication: This writing workshop is an intensive way to study how to create effective arguments and written communication online and off. [MIT]
  2. Communicating With Data: Here you'll learn some more effective ways to communicate complex data. [MIT]
  3. Communicating Across Cultures: With an increasingly global world it can be important to know how to communicate with people from around the world. This course will teach you how. [MIT]
  4. Communicating in Cyberspace: Learn to use the Internet to communicate better through this course which addresses language, design, information architecture, and more. [MIT]
  5. Digital Communications: This course will cover some of the more technical aspects of digital communications so you can better understand the mechanics of how they work. [OpenLearn]
  6. Diversity and Difference in Communication: Through this course, you'll learn how to improve your interpersonal communication skills and discover new ways to communicate with people from all walks of life. [OpenLearn]
  7. Marketing Communications as a Strategic Function: Want to use new media as a way to market products or services? This course will give you the lowdown on the communication skills you'll need. [OpenLearn]
  8. Planning, Communications, and Digital Media: This course addresses new methods of digital visualization and communication and their application to planning issues.[MIT]
  9. Intro to Tech Communication: People in all professions need to be able to communicate effectively. This course will help you build the necessary skills to work in a technical setting. [MIT]
  10. Introduction to Technical Communication: Ethics in Science and Technology: This course will address the design, use, and propagation of technology and how any issues that arise may be communicated in house and with stockholders.[MIT]


These courses touch on a variety of new media developments and issues that arise from technology use.

  1. Introduction to the History of Technology: This course examines the political, historical and cultural influences that shaped the rise of modern technology. [MIT]
  2. Videogame Theory and Analysis: In this class, you'll learn about the cultural, educational, and social functions of contemporary video games. [MIT]
  3. Technologies of Humanism: From books to digital media, this course will examine the non-sequential, multi-linear, and interactive forms of narratives. [MIT]
  4. Pattern Recognition and Analysis: Through the lectures and materials in this course, you'll learn how to recognize and analyze patterns in numerical data. [MIT]
  5. Optical Engineering: Check out this class to learn more about diffraction, statistical optics, holography, and imaging. [MIT]
  6. Ambient Intelligence: While it may seem like science fiction, this course delves into new ways of human and machine interaction through embedded intuitive interfaces. [MIT]
  7. Out of Context: A Course on Computer Systems That Adapt To, and Learn From, Context: Computers today are becoming increasingly interactive and responsive to users. This course aims to explore ways to make them able to learn and adapt from context clues in the environment. [MIT]
  8. Techno-identity: Who We Are and How We Perceive Ourselves and Others: With science and technology playing a major role in personal identity, this course addresses how modern notions of the self are formed. [MIT]
  9. Social Visualization: This course will help you make visual representations of the virtual visitors of web sites. [MIT]
  10. Workshop I: Give this workshop a try to put your hands-on skills to the test in media studies. [MIT]


Learn more about the role of new media in education through these courses.

  1. Seminar on Deep Engagement: Here you'll learn how to build interactive media that provides truly deep engagement with users, for learning or entertainment. [MIT]
  2. Blogs, Wikis, New Media for Learning: This course will help you keep up to speed with the rapidly evolving technologies being used in educational settings. [USU]
  3. Technologies for Creative Learning: Check out this course to learn creative and innovative new ways to change education through technology. [MIT]
  4. How to Learn Almost Anything: Here you'll find information on how new technologies can create new approaches to learning, and new ideas about what can be learned. [MIT]
  5. The Nature of Constructionist Learning: Here you'll get a philosophical and theoretical foundations of constructionism and approaches to education. [MIT]
  6. Autism Theory and Technology: This course will give you a background in autism theory so that you can better innovate new technologies to be used by those with autism. [MIT]
  7. Technological Tools for School Reform: See how new technology may impact schools and help reform education in the US and abroad. [MIT]


Educate yourself on global technology and information systems with these free classes.

  1. Global Issues in Information Technology: This course examines how information technologies are adapted and used differently in countries around the world. [TWB]
  2. Globalization: Here you'll learn about the international economy and its effects on domestic politics, economy, and society. [MIT]
  3. Global Marketing Strategy: Those interested in using digital tools to market will appreciate this course with a global focus. [USU]
  4. Integrating eSystems & Global Information Systems: This course will help you learn how to better integrate technology into a business and use it to become more effective globally. [MIT]
  5. Internet Technology in Local and Global Communities: Learn how the internet has impacted communities on a small and large scale through this course. [MIT]
  6. New Global Agenda: Exploring 21st Century Challenges through Innovations in Information Technologies: Check out this course to learn how information technology is changing politics and international relations. [MIT]
  7. Topics in Culture and Globalization: Here you'll get access to readings and discussions of the effects of interconnectedness of cultures and societies geographically wide apart, including America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. [MIT]
  8. International Politics in the New Century – via Simulation, Interactive Gaming, and "Edutainment": Take a new look at new visualization techniques and approaches to interactive political gaming through this course. [MIT]

Visual and Performing Arts

Here you'll find a selection of classes that can help you learn about new and existing media in the arts.

  1. American Soap Operas: This class examines the history of soap operas from the production, consumption, and media texts of soaps. [MIT]
  2. Visualizing Cultures: Here you'll learn about the visual images created during the reopening of Japan by Commodore Perry, and learn to apply the issues from these to a larger scope of media. [MIT]
  3. Topics in Comparative Media: American Pro Wrestling: This course addresses the cultural history and media industry surrounding the masculine drama of professional wrestling. [MIT]
  4. Holographic Imaging: Here you can learn more about the science behind holography, and possibly learn to make them yourself. [MIT]
  5. Special Topics in Multimedia Production: Experiences in Interactive Art: Check out this course to get advice from artists who are working in interactive media. [MIT]
  6. Numeric Photography: This course combines the creativity of photography with the analytical power of computer imaging and programming. [MIT]
  7. Learning from the Past: Drama, Science, Performance: Through this course you'll learn about of the modern scientific and cultural world through study of western Europe in the 17th century including the work of Descartes, Newton, Shakespeare and Rembrandt. [MIT]
  8. Modern Art and Mass Culture: Learn more about art historical theories about modernism and postmodernism in this great course. [MIT]
  9. Documenting Culture: Why capture everyday life on film? This course addresses why and how people capture culture on film. [MIT]
  10. Documentary Photography and Photo Journalism: Still Images of A World In Motion: In this course you'll learn about the greats in photography and photojournalism, and learn how to embark on your own photography project. [MIT]
  11. Art and Technology: Learn about the history of art and technology through this course and its new implications in fields like biology and engineering. [Capilano University]

Television, Video and Film

Boost your skills in new media through the information provided by these courses.

  1. Producing Films for Social Change: This course will allow you to learn how to write, produce and make your own documentary film. [Tufts University]
  2. Special Topics in Cinematic Storytelling: Learn about the variety of approaches to cinematic storytelling in this course. [MIT]
  3. Philosophy of Film: Here you'll get a philosophical analysis of film as an art form, with lectures that address reality, visual effects, communication and alienation. [MIT]
  4. The Film Experience: This is an introductory course that will help you learn more about how film works. [MIT]
  5. Understanding Television: This course will help you understand how television has changed and evolved, creating its own system of representation. [MIT]
  6. Five Steps to Multimedia Storytelling: Go through this course to learn how simple it can be to use multimedia technologies to tell your story. [News University]
  7. Good Shooting Guide: The Basic Principles: Check out this simple guide from the BBC to learn how to take good photos or film. [BBC]

Computer Science and Programming

With these courses you'll get a chance to learn about the processes going on behind digital media and learn to create interactive programs yourself.

  1. Introduction to Computer Science and Programming: Even students with little or no experience in this field will be able to learn and understand the information presented in this course on basic programming and computer science principles. [MIT]
  2. Signals, Systems, and Information for Media Technology: Here you'll learn the fundamentals of signals and information theory with coursework that focuses on audio/visual messages. [MIT]
  3. Affective Computing: This course will examine the role of emotion in computer-human interactions. [MIT]
  4. How to Make Almost Anything: In this course, students will learn how to make a variety of technological items from start to finish. [MIT]
  5. Quantum Information Science: This course on quantum computation and quantum information is not for beginners, so to really get anything out of it you'll need to have a firm foundation in the subject ahead of time. [MIT]
  6. Special Topics in Media Technology: Computational Semantics: Here you'll learn more about language and meaning and how that affects computers and their functioning. [MIT]
  7. Common Sense Reasoning for Interactive Applications: Through this course, students will use their knowledge of common sense reasoning to build interactive systems that take advantage of this concept. [MIT]
  8. Computer Graphics: Check out this class to get an introduction to computer graphics hardware, algorithms, and software.[MIT]
  9. Programming Languages: Using the Scheme+ programming language, students will do readings and complete small projects in an attempt to understand the fundamental principles behind programming languages. [MIT]
  10. User Interface Design and Implementation: Focusing on design, implementation and evaluation, this course will teach students how to create better user interfaces. [MIT]
  11. Foundations of Software Engineering: This course touches on numerous issues that are important when creating any new piece of software from the basics of programming to the necessity of good maintenance and support. [MIT]


Interactivity is often an important element in new media studies, and it relies heavily on good design. Learn more about web and digital design from these courses.

  1. Designing Sociable Media: Learn how the design of social websites influences how people use them to interact, valuable skills and knowledge for those who want to use new media in any field. [MIT]
  2. Digital Typography: In this course you'll not only learn how to use text but actually get to design some yourself. [MIT]
  3. Designing the user interface: text, colour, images, moving images and sound: learn how to design programs that look and run smoothly and are super user friendly. [OpenLearn]
  4. Learn and Apply HTML: As one of the most common web languages, HTML is essential to any individual hoping to work in online media. [USU]
  5. Blender 3D Design: Create 3D models and animations in this course that instructs students on how to use the Blender 3D software. [Tufts University]
  6. Interactive Media Production: Through this class you'll gain the skills and confidence to create just about anything in Flash 9.[USU]
  7. Fundamentals of Computational Media Design: You'll get hands on experiencein working with a variety of media design tools in this course. [MIT]
  8. Flash: This course will teach you how to use Flash 8 to create a great project you can put in a media portfolio. [USU]

Media Theory and History

These courses will help you to explore the foundations of media studies.

  1. New Media Literacies: This course focuses on literacy theory and the implications that new media may have on improving literacy programs and success. [MIT]
  2. History of Media and Technology: Here you will learn about the shift from analog to digital technologies as well as gaining a better understanding of the historical interplay between technology and communication. [MIT]
  3. History of Media and Technology: Sound, the Minority Report — Radical Music of the Past 100 Years: Take a look back at the avant-garde music that has been produced in the past hundred years and the technologies that have been used to make it. [MIT]
  4. Introduction to Media Studies: Check out this course to become a more aware observer and participant in media culture. [MIT]
  5. Media Education and the Marketplace: Here you'll learn how information and communication technologies have fostered a global community for learning, selling products and communicating. [MIT]
  6. Media in Cultural Context: Through this course you will examine the trade of television programs from one country to another and one culture to another, examining how the context of the shows may or may not hold up to a different audience. [MIT]
  7. Media in Cultural Context: Popular Readerships: From Oprah books to mass market romance novels, this course examines the growth of popular print materials. [MIT]
  8. Media in Transition: This course focuses on historical periods where major changes in media occurred, from the invention of the printing press to the shift to the digital realm. [MIT]
  9. Media Industries and Systems: Here you'll learn about how art, science and technology work together to produce and market contemporary media and media delivery systems. [MIT]
  10. From Print to Digital: Technologies of the Word, 1450-Present: If you're looking to learn about the history of the written word, this course can be a great starting point with information that stretches several centuries. [MIT]
  11. Digital Anthropology: This course will ask students to examine the role digital technology has in preserving human culture through a series of experiments and activities. [MIT]

English and Writing

Boost your writing skills and learn how to write about technology, the web and new media through these helpful courses.

  1. Expository Writing: Analyzing Mass Media: Students in this course will write an essay or paper addressing the power of popular American media has in shaping our ideas of self, family and community. [MIT]
  2. Forms of Western Narrative: Learn about the style and impact of traditional, Western ways of telling stories. [MIT]
  3. Interactive and Non-Linear Narrative: Theory and Practice: There's more than one way to tell a story and this course addresses the myriad of non-linear ways to get your story through to the viewer or reader. [MIT]
  4. Writing on Contemporary Issues: Culture Shock! Writing, Editing, and Publishing in Cyberspace: In this course you'll learn to write for a web audience while addressing issues relevant to popular culture. [MIT]
  5. Major Media Texts: Check out this course to read some of the texts that have had the greatest impact on culture and intellectual discussion. [MIT]
  6. Shakespeare, Film and Media: Learn how film and classic literature intersect and manifest in even more modern forms of media in this course. [MIT]
  7. Popular Narrative: Masterminds: Students will engage in active discussion and keep journals related to the study of literary masterminds and storytellers in this course. [MIT]
  8. Expository Writing: Social and Ethical Issues in Print, Photography and Film: Students can build their writing skills in this course while analyzing film, photographs and print media. [MIT]
  9. Becoming Digital: Writing About Media Change: This course offers writing instruction but also information on how digital media have changed business, communication and entertainment. [MIT]
  10. Digital Poetry: Embrace your inner poet with this course that will teach you how to work with computer based poetry using soundscapes, hypertext poetry, animation, code poems, and interactive games. [MIT]
  11. Technology for Professional Writers: If you're not tech savvy, this course can help bring you up to speed and allow you to use your creative skills. [USU]
  12. The Creative Spark: This course will examine the creative process from start to finish and help you create your own creative writings. [MIT]

Media Law

With technology changing so rapidly, laws can hardly keep up. These courses will help you learn where they stand currently and how you can work within them.

  1. Online Media Law: The Basics for Bloggers and Other Online Publishers: Here you'll learn all the important legal stuff you'll need to know before publishing anything to the web. [News University]
  2. Ethics and the Law on the Electronic Frontier: Here you'll get an interesting introduction to issues like internet regulation, fourth amendment law, surveillance and more. [MIT]
  3. Information Law and Policy: This course addresses "copyright and other forms of legal protection for databases, licensing of information, consumer protection, liability for insecure systems and defective information, privacy, and national and international information policy." [UC Berkeley]
  4. Communications and Information Policy: Give this course a try to learn about the current policies government public networks. [MIT]
  5. Freedom of Information: Through this course you'll learn to use the Freedom of Information Act, Public Records Laws and more to protect your right to free information. [News University]