Well - why not?
It’s not quite time for the summer holidays yet, but we online creative writing tutors are already thinking about the courses we’ll be teaching in the autumn and beyond. I teach a variety of creative writing courses for the University of Oxford and the University of Exeter, all short online courses of ten to twelve weeks in length. There’s ‘The Art of the Short Story,’ ‘The Craft of Creative Writing’, ‘Writing Memoir and Family History’, ‘Getting Started with Creative Writing’, and ‘Writing Lives’. The new runs of these will be starting in Sep, Oct and Nov – see my Courses page for details. And if you're interested, do sign up in plenty of time - many of these courses fill up quickly.
Each time one of these courses begins, I wait eagerly to ‘meet’ the new intake of students (usually between 10 and 25 in number) and to hear where each person comes from, and what they do. And when the final week comes and we all sign off, it feels like saying goodbye to a bunch of friends!
Students come from all over the world – we’ve had Argentina, Laos, India, USA, Australia, Germany, Dubai as place of residence, to name but a few. As you can work at your own pace within the weekly unit, time zones aren’t a problem, and posting can be tailored to your own schedule. But through the discussion forums, students and tutor can debate, discuss and even chat – we’ve been known to veer from post-modernism to football, from synchronicity to recipes for chocolate cakes. (Even though, strictly speaking, most discussions will be channelled around the week’s topics!) It’s a friendly learning environment, and people are often surprised at how much camaraderie and mutual support develops. As a tutor, it’s my job to foster this interchange, and to encourage students to offer feedback to each other.
The courses are open to everyone, and all you need is the desire to write and the willingness to tackle the course exercises. If you take one of these online courses, you’ll work through a number of units in succession, each one generally lasting a week. During that week, there will be one or more activities where you’re asked to write creatively, summarise, discuss or even take part in quizzes, listen to audio clips, and generally get inventive with all the relevant material. Some tasks may be very short – 100-200 words on a particular theme, for example – whereas for others, you might be asked to write a narrative of 500-1000 words. Not everyone manages to complete every task, as busy lives and unexpected events tend to intervene, but for most it’s possible to finish the course with a good number of activities written and posted.
You’ll see the ones I’m teaching on my Courses and Consultations page on this website, but do also take a look at the whole range of courses on offer at http://education.exeter.ac.uk/dll/list_courses.php?code=dlc and http://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/courses/.
Come and join us online!
I’ll aim to follow this blog post with a couple of others about online study, with some tips for writing students.