Today I thought I’d share something I’ve never thought to mention before: online classes. Better, free online classes. Ever heard of Coursera? I hadn’t either until last year but now I’m hooked.
Coursera is a website with– well in their own words:
We believe in connecting people to a great education so that anyone around the world can learn without limits.
Coursera is an education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Our technology enables our partners to teach millions of students rather than hundreds.
We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education that has so far been available to a select few. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.
Amazing. And as far as I’ve seen so far, they live up to that. All of it.
I’m enrolled in a few classes right now, one that started last week (we’ll pretend I’m not already behind). The courses I’m taking now are more geared towards my career – my paying career, I should say, not my writing career. ;) See, I’m in the process of making a career change. It’s exciting and terrifying. But I’m hopeful that a combination of luck and the work I’m putting into the search (and getting myself looking good for the search) will net me a good place for the next step in my career. What do I want to do? Well, next, I want to be a Technical Writer. So yes, I want to write for my living too, but I also want the rest of what goes with being a Technical Writer: the research, talking to people, figuring out how to put all of that into a helpful, clear, concise format, etc.
As as result, the classes I’m into right now are more program-, computer-, human-computer interaction-related, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other classes for other types of writers. In fact, I found four on the Coursera site that all start soon and might be of interest to you:
- Creativity, Innovation, and Change offered by Penn State: “Explore your unique brand of creativity to gain deeper personal insight. Learn and apply new techniques to make innovative contributions in your own world. Solve complex problems and drive change creatively.” Starts Sept 1st.
- Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade offered by Mt. San Jacinto College: “Learn to become an effective builder of sentences using the basic tools of grammar, punctuation, and writing.” Starts: Sept 21st.
- Comic Books and Graphic Novels offered by the University of Colorado Boulder: “Comic books have arrived! “Comic Books and Graphic Novels” presents a survey of the comic book canon and of the major graphic novels in circulation today. Its governing question is simple: by what terms can we discuss comic books as literary art? In pursuit of that question it develops a theory of literary reading and time itself.” Starts: Sept 23rd.
- Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World offered by the University of Michigan: “We understand the world — and our selves — through stories. Then some of those hopes and fears become the world.” Starts: Oct 7th.
All four look interesting. I really want to take the Creativity and Fantasy / Sci-Fi ones sometime. These four were the ones that jumped out to me as more obviously interesting to writers, but depending on what you like to write about, almost any of these classes could be useful. Such as the one on the Ancient Greeks or the one on Scandinavian film and television.
Okay that’s enough for now – back to my class. Which I’m not behind in…. Much.