Experiential learning should be the standard for all programs—including Film & Media


It’s one thing to memorize words from a textbook or listen to a lecture, but what students really need are practical skills that can help them secure a job after graduation.

While some programs at Queen’s offer hands-on learning methods, many Arts majors are missing the practical training opportunities that bridge theoretical concepts and real-world practice. Queen’s Film and Media program promotes its top-quality film equipment, sound studio, and DigiLab­­­, yet many students go most of their undergraduate degree hardly touching those resources.

There are a limited number of Film courses focused on the practical elements of media production compared to theoretical courses, and there’s a shortage of seats in the already limited selection of courses designed for hands-on learning. 

Consequently, students who aim to expand their learning beyond the theoretical classes are often met by the painful sting of SOLUS’ “Course Closed” messages. Of course, there’s value in the critical thinking skills gained when studying academic concepts, but balancing theory and practice is what results in a diverse, well-rounded education. 

Queen’s, following numerous other universities, promotes experiential learning opportunities to entice prospective students. However, such opportunities are not guaranteed for Film and Media majors and can be difficult to find. 

Workplace experience can be incredibly useful to students looking to gain experience in their field, build connections in the industry, put learning to practice, and gain important skills their university courses don’t develop. 

Internships and co-ops have their benefits, but universities overlook the barriers faced by many students such as location and finances. Even with a paid position, many students can’t afford to move to Toronto for a lifechanging internship that could jumpstart their career. 

Universities forget internships and co-ops aren’t the only constructive form of experiential learning—it can be used in the classroom too.

Lessons involving practical demonstrations and hands-on training are valuable, yet underrepresented forms of teaching available to Film and Media students. Strictly theoretical learning has become dated with the job market growing more competitive.

Students have heard a university diploma be reduced to “just a piece of paper,” and perhaps this statement grows more accurate as institutions neglect practical experience and workplace connections.

Rigid learning structures with limited experiential learning opportunities hinder Film and Media students’ potential, throwing them into the job market feeling unprepared without the connections, comprehensive knowledge, and tactical skills needed to succeed.

Queen’s Film and Media program has missed its mark in caring for the future of its students. Offering more practical learning options, networking events, and aiding in internship and job searches will help Film majors feel prepared to join the industry.


Mackenzie is a third-year Film & Media student and The Journal's Senior Video Editor.

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