Statisical Resources: Open Learn

Open Learn is a group of FREE courses from the Open University. As you would expect from a major educational institution with a long and proud history of providing high quality education, these offerings are a real gem and it would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to make the most of them.

You can access the site here.

Open Learn offers many different courses covering many different subjects – but not film studies, which is a shame. It does, however, include a whole series of mathematics and statistics modules aimed at students of different levels covering everything from descriptive statistics and graphs to statistical modelling. Many of these courses are interactive, and they are designed to provoke you. Courses worth checking out are:

  • Finding information in mathematics and statistics (Introductory)
  • Diagrams, charts, and graphs (Introductory)
  • Exploring data: graphs and numerical summaries (Introductory)
  • Interpreting data: boxplots and tables (Intermediate)

The focus of these courses is more on learning statistical concepts and how to use the tools of statistics effectively than the procedural knowledge of performing calculations. There is no assumption of prior knowledge of statistical methods. Key concepts are explained clearly and simply, and best of all they come in small chunks that avoid the over-designed deluge of information you get from a lot of statistics textbooks. Consequently, you can get learn a great deal very quickly and very simply.

There are also forums for discussing the content of the courses, but there is not tutorial support. These are only open to registered participants, but you do not have to register to follow the courses.

This is an excellent place to begin if you want to start developing some of the research skills you will need in film studies (but which you will not be taught on film studies degrees). Working through the courses listed above will make life so much easier when starting a more formal course in statistics. Taking some time to work through the basic modules will certainly put you in a better position to interpret empirical research in film studies, to be able to use information more judiciously and thereby to distinguish good research from bad, and eventually to be able to do some research using statistical methods.

A very good thing indeed.



About Nick Redfern

I graduated from the University of Kent in 1998 with a degree in Film Studies and History, and was awarded an MA by the same institution in 2002. I received my Ph.D. from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006 for a thesis title 'Regionalism and the Cinema in the United Kingdom, 1992 to 2002.' I have taught at Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Central Lancashire. My research interests include regional film cultures and industries in the United Kingdom; cognition and communication in the cinema; anxiety in contemporary Hollywood cinema; cinemetrics; and film style and film form. My work has been published in Entertext, the International Journal of Regional and Local Studies, the New Review of Film and Television Studies, Cyfrwng: Media Wales Journal, and the Journal of British Cinema and Television.

Posted on November 24, 2011, in Statistics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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