About MASSOLIT

Some frequently asked questions about
who we are and what we do.



About MASSOLIT

Who is behind MASSOLIT?

MASSOLIT is run by Chris Tudor, a former Oxford Classicist who happens to know how to shoot film and to code websites. You can find out a little bit more about him on his Twitter page, or you can e-mail him directly.


Why was MASSOLIT established?

Lots and lots of reasons, but here are a few.

(1) There are hundreds of amazing academics out there who have dedicated their lives to Shakespeare, Homer, Wordsworth, Kant, etc. and whose knowledge and expertise would be brilliantly useful for school students. Previouly, these academics have been limited to visiting schools one-by-one, but technology now allows them can share their knowledge with every single student and teacher in the world. All they need is the right platform.

YouTube and iTunes U are far too big, while the MOOCs (edX, Coursera, Futurelearn, Udacity, etc.) are (1) aimed at adult learners, and (2) overwhelmingly concentrated in mathematics, science, business. What about 16-19 year old students who want to learn about Shakespeare?

This is why MASSOLIT was created.

(2) A lot of the resources available for school students studying the arts and humanities play it very safe, and end up being unambitious and uninspiring. We wanted to create something for the students who wanted to push themselves and to engage with interesting ideas and critical discussions?

(3) Even where great resources do exist, it's almost impossible to find them... YouTube no doubt has some fantastic resources, but these are swamped by 10,000 other videos which are no good. Another reason MASSOLIT was created was to provide a place where every single lecture was high-quality. All killer, no filler.

(4) On a personal level, it's quite nice going round the country and having a chat with some of the world's best academics.


Where can I find a list of lecturers?

We have two lists: the first groups lecturers by their institution (i.e. where they are based), the second groups them by their subject (i.e. what they research/teach).


Where does the name MASSOLIT come from?

The MASSOLIT was the name of the writers' union in Mikhail Bulgakov's novel 'The Master and Margarita'. It is Russian for something like "Literature for the Masses", which made some kind of sense at the time.


Lectures & Courses

How long is an average lecture?

Most lectures are between 8-12 minutes in length. We like to keep things short so that teachers have time to play the lectures in class without eating too much into class-time, and without students getting too bored(!)


How many lectures are there for each subject?

MASSOLIT currently features 1791 lectures across 272 courses. These are split across four subject areas as follows:
840 lectures across 112 courses in English Literature
428 lectures across 70 courses in Classics and Ancient History
165 lectures across 28 courses in Philosophy
461 lectures across 76 courses in History

Click here to download a full list of courses and lectures [.xls, 286 KB]

How many lectures are added each year?

We tend to add between 70-100 courses per year: that's an additional 500-600 individual lectures.


Where can I find a list of recently added lectures?

There are a number of ways you can do this. The easiest is to check out our list of most recent courses, which lists all our courses in date order.

Other ways you can keep up to date are to like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, as we use both of these to announce new courses as they come online. The final thing you can do is sign up to our mailing list, which gives a digest of everything that has happened on the site over the past month or so.


Are lectures coded to the curriculum?

Mostly, yes. In some cases, subjects may be more wide-ranging than a single specification option and/or designed for extension and enrichment.

Preparing students to go beyond their school exams and to think about what life be like at university is an important part of what we are doing.


How are topics for lectures chosen?

In some cases, schools get in touch to ask us to cover certain subjects, which we are more than happy to do. (So if you're a teacher or a student and you're reading this, and you would like us to cover something, please get in touch!

In most cases, however, it's a combination of looking at the specification to see what needs to be covered, speaking to the contributor to get their opinion on what would be the most useful topics to cover, and thinking about what would work best in the video format.


Can I see any sample lectures?

Yes. We have a regularly-updated YouTube channel where you can check out some of our videos.

Alternatively, we provide free access to one lecture from each our lecturers, so you can see what they're like. You can start having a look at some of these via our contributor list.


Access & Functionality

Why do you charge for lectures?

We need money to cover our costs (e.g. server and hosting costs, camera equipment, post-production software, travel up and down the country, etc.). Charging a small annual subscription fee seems like the fairest way to do it.

Access and Outreach is extremely important to us, and we welcome discussions with Outreach & Access officers (or equivalent) at both Schools and Universities as to how we best do the right thing with this, so please get in touch.


If my school subscribes, do we automatically get access to new lectures?

Yes. If you subscribed today, you'd not only get access to the 1791 courses that are on the site right now, but everything else that is added over the next 12 months.


Are there any lectures freely available online?

Yes. We have a regularly-updated YouTube channel where you can check out some of our videos for free.

Alternatively, we provide free access to one lecture from each our lecturers, so you can see what they're like. You can start having a look at some of these via our contributor list.


Can lectures be downloaded for offline viewing?

No, although this is something that we are thinking about doing in the future.


Can staff and students watch lectures at home?

Yes. Once your school has signed up, all staff members and students will have their own username and password, which means they can watch lectures whenever and wherever they like.


Can teachers check whether students have watched lectures set for them as homework?

Yes. We have powerful analytics tools whereby teachers can see who has watched what, and when. We can even tell you how much of each video has been watched!


Is there a limit on the number of students and teachers who can log in to watch a lecture at the same time?

There is no limit. Everyone in the school could watch the same lecture at the same time if they liked.



Subscriptions

Can we choose to subscribe to lectures in individual subjects?

Each subject collection (Classics, English Literature, History, and Philosophy) is available as a separate 12-month subscription, but you can choose to subscribe to two or four collections at a discounted rate.