Friday, December 28, 2012

Online Writing Courses. Are they for you?

Inkspot would like to welcome Kate Willson today to give you more information about online writing courses. Take it away Kate...

Top University Writing Courses Now Open to Public through Massive Open Online Course System
by Kate Willson

Are you interested in becoming a better writer, but you don’t want to pay the high price for college writing and literature courses? You’re lucky day has arrived, because there’s a new option available to interested students all over the world. Thanks to this new online education method, you don’t have to worry about paying a dime to become a student at some of the top universities in the world. All you have to do is sign up and log on.

Known as massive open online courses (or MOOCs), these classes don’t require their students to apply or be accepted by any university. They are completely free, and they are designed to be taught at the same level of their on-campus equivalent. There are currently three major organizations offering quality massive open online courses;, and The courses offered on these sites are backed by top universities and taught by professors or industry professionals. Although MOOC students cannot earn college credit, it’s the opportunity to become educated for free that has everyone interested.
In terms of writing, there are a few course sessions that will be starting up soon on Coursera. There’s no obligation to finish the course once you’ve started it, so there’s nothing to lose by signing up.

The Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound, and Color
This course will be taught by Scott Higgins, an associate professor of film studies at Wesleyan University. It is perfect for those interested in the history of film technology and how the method of storytelling evolved to fit the medium. Although it is not a strict writing course, anyone who is interested in scriptwriting will find it helpful. Class begins on February 4, 2013 and will take around five weeks to complete. Be prepared to spend four to six hours per week on the course. Students are not required to purchase a textbook, but the professor does provide a list of suggested readings.

The Fiction of Relationship
This course will be taught by Arnold Weinstein, who is the Edna and Richard Salomon Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University. Students will read ten works of narrative fiction from 18th to the 20th century in an effort to discover the nature of our relationship to others and the world. Class is scheduled to begin in June 2013 and should take ten weeks to complete. Students should expect to spend six to eight hours per week on course work, and they must supply themselves with the ten required readings.

Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative
This course will be taught by Jay Clayton, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. This course will discuss what happens to works of fiction when they are reinvented into video games. It is perfect for literature aficionados who are also interested gaming. Class is scheduled to begin in July 2013 and is expected to take seven weeks to complete. Be ready to devote four to six hours per week to the class. As part of the course work, students will need to download the free version of the Lord of the Rings Online game.

As stated before, a massive open online course is not the same as attending a university as a registered student, because you cannot earn college credit. Additionally, because courses are free, you should not expect the quality of education to exactly match that of a class that charges tuition. However, MOOC professors do try to create lesson plans that are similar to the college courses they teach. If you are not satisfied with the quality of the course you signed up for, you are not obligated to complete the course.
Each MOOC system also allows its users to rate the courses they have taken. You can use these ratings to decide whether a course is worth signing up for or not. To learn more about the courses above, visit

Kate Willson is a researcher/writer for, a great online resource for all things related to higher learning and college life. Through her work, Kate hopes to share with readers the latest trends in education and the best advice for college preparation and career planning. Please leave any questions or comments for her below.

1 comment:

Deborah Sharp said...

Thanks for the info, Kate ... I wish there had been more online writing courses available back in the dark ages, when I was learning to become a fiction writer.