Posted in Writing craft

Online Learning for Writers

It was probably the early 2000s. I was still a full-time university professor, and there was a newfangled thing in town: online learning. For as long as I can remember, the university where I taught had been at the forefront of what they called “distance education.” It was what we called “correspondence courses” in the early years. In the simplest of definitions, correspondence courses were those courses where the teacher and students communicated by mail―the old-fashioned kind. Picture it for a moment.

You are an aspiring writer living in a small town, miles from any place where you might be able to find even an evening course to learn something bout writing. You pick up a copy of Writer’s Digest magazine at your local newsstand, and as you’re flipping through those real pages, you come across an advertisement for a correspondence course.

An old advertisement from Writer’s Digest

You write to the company advertising the course, enclose your cheque to cover the course cost, and they send you course materials that contain instructions. When you’ve finished the first section of the course and completed the assignment, you put that assignment in an envelope and mail it to your instructor. Then you wait. (Not unlike waiting for an agent to get back to you, right? Perhaps it was good training after all!). The instructor grades your assignment and mails it back to you. Then you complete the next section, and the process presents itself until the end of the course. As I was writing this, I remembered that I had actually done this back in the early days of my writing career.

It was a novel-writing course, and the company promised to connect me with a fiction-writing teacher. The company sent me a binder full of materials, and I corresponded with the teacher, who critiqued my work all along the way. Slow but effective, in my view. Fast-forward to the twenty-first century and all our digital, online tools.

When my university began its foray into online learning, I was first in line in my department to begin the process of creating courses for online delivery. Courses designed to be presented in person don’t translate directly onto online learning platforms without significant alterations to how the content is chunked and presented. That’s why so many kids had so much difficulty with their schoolwork when their in-classroom learning suddenly moved online in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. I felt for them, knowing what I did about the differences between in-class and distance teaching and learning. However, a well-developed online course can be an excellent way to learn. And aspiring writers can learn so much from a really good online course. It doesn’t matter where you live anymore. You can find rich resources for online learning.

The online self-publishing space Kindlepreneur publishes a list of good online courses for writers every year. This year’s list, 16 Best Online Courses for Writers in 2022 [Free & Paid], includes courses for beginning writers, people who aspire to write children’s books, memoir writers, bloggers and much more.

Never let it be said that you can’t access or afford a course that might help you realize your potential to become a better writer. There are lots available.

And if you’ve ever considered writing a nonfiction book, you’ll need to write a book proposal. You might try this course…(you didn’t think I’d forget to plug my own course, did you??)

Of course, for my blog readers, I’ve created a special price that expires on June 17. Use the coupon code MAY2022BLOGREADER at this URL:


Some Resources:

Free Online Writing Courses.

16 Best Online Courses for Writers in 2022 [Free & Paid]

A History of Correspondence Course Programs,shorthand%20through%20weekly%20mailed%20lessons

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Reading, writing & publishing. Doing things differently.

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