Back to School

Thursday, August 25, 2016
It's that time -- the mass exodus of communities as the college students head back to campus. Listening to friends' tales of the traditional stuffing of the car with bedding, snacks, computers, microwaves and all the miscellaneous things that create life on campus I felt a little twinge for that time that feels like yesterday when I was the one heading back to campus. That feeling of jumping into the unknown with each new class. Wondering what the professor would be like, what we would learn, if it would be worth that 8 a.m. starting time (my major seemed to have a high percentage of professors who enjoyed early morning classes).

I've been toying with the idea of taking a class at my local college but not only is the cost prohibitive but the idea of fitting it into my already jam-packed schedule seemed like an impossibility. That's when I recalled hearing something about MOOCs (massive open online courses). Universities all over the world are placing some of their courses online. Online courses come in many forms. There are the truly free ones where you download videos of the class lectures to watch. This is a great way to dip your toe into MOOC learning. But there are also options that include payment for things like grading assignments or receiving a certificate of completion.

I began my search for online courses at Coursera and found a few great options in creative writing but, by its very nature, creative writing demands feedback so you might end up paying something for these classes. However MOOCs are a great way to do a little research into Medieval England, The Rolling Stones, epidemics or another topic that plays a part in your WIP. So if you want to do your research with the help of PhDs then MOOCs may be the place for you.

Although I did learn a lot from the two classes I checked out, I found that there was a second advantage to MOOC learning beyond the skills and knowledge. It gave me a jump start. Taking a class made me want to write more simply because I was devoting so much time to thinking about writing and World War II. So if you need a little inspiration and don't have a writing group or writer friends to turn to you might want to try a MOOC class to help you get your focus back.

Of course, for improving your actual writing skills I would chooses an interactive class such as the ones at the WOW classroom. Not all these instructors have a PhD but they have two things that count for a lot in our business -- experience and writing credits. Lots of classes are starting September 5 but the schedule has classes listed for through the spring. Why not find a class that can help you with your writing career?

Jodi M. Webb is writer living in Pennsylvania who also is a WOW blog tour manager. Her next tour will be Sugarland by Martha Conway, a novel that involves murder, Chicago and 1920s jazz clubs. Contact her at if you're interested. You can find her blogging about books at Building Bookshelves


Diane Martin said...

After reading your article, I enrolled in two MOOCs related to creative writing. I'm hoping it'll add a little fuel to my dwindling fire. Thanks for the nudge!

Kitty said...

hobbymomof4 ... May I ask which MOOCs? I'm interested, too.

Diane Martin said...

Kitty, I Googled Coursera and am going to do the Writing for Children course (audit only, so it's free), as well as Creative Writing: The Craft of Style which is part of a 4- or 5-part series by Wesleyan University.

Diane Martin said...

Oops, Kitty, the first one is actually called Writing for Young Readers. (I write middle-grade fantasy.)

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