Cary, NC – Recently, a friend posted a story on my wall, “Harvard Photography Classes Online for Free.” At first, I was annoyed. Then I decided to take the course. It turns out the story wasn’t true.

Was Online, Once?

Harvard University has made a number of classes available for free online, including Abstract Algebra and the Ancient Greek Hero. Some online courses find distribution through Alison, an online learning portal.

PetaPixel and other popular tech-y news sites  circulated a story about a photography course from Harvard. The internet went crazy and chaos ensued.

According to a commenter on PetaPixel, who claimed to be registered for the course, “I just received an email message from Alison informing me that the Harvard photography course has been taken down. Anyone who has already started the course can continue to access it until February 15.”

I found this when I tried to take the course.

In fact, some commenters have floated the idea that the course offering was just a clever way to get people to sign up (give them your email address) and that some publications were just latching onto a clickbait scheme. I was, in fact, required to sign up before I was informed that the class was not available.

At this point, it’s not even clear if Alison had actual permission from Harvard to ever have the course on their website.

Annoyed, Then Intrigued

I was annoyed because, on some level, my acquaintance was saying “why should I pay you to teach me about photography at Duke when I could get it for free from Harvard?”

But then, I was intrigued. I’ve spent a lot of time developing my curriculum, so why not see what the other fellow had to offer?

Harvard is certainly dedicated to online learning and tuition-free courses. This was about Alison, I think, not Harvard.

Maybe I can develop an online course for Duke and we could put it online.

In the meantime, I’ll search for other online courses from universities about photography and get back to you.