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Free online courses

Friend sent me this link. They are offering their online classes for free until 31 May. No idea if they're any good. I'm going to take a look at the memoir class.



  • There are lots of good free courses here
  • I don't know much about webinars. 
    Can the person running it see you, and do you have to interact?

    Yes, I like Future Learn, heather. I might have a go at one.
  • My husband has done lots since he retired. Quite obscure (to me) politics and history mostly - The Swiss political structure, Alexander the great etc. I did the Learn Italian course but I don't retain things well anymore.
  • Thanks for that link, Heather. I'll have a look.
    I had never even heard of a webinar until I looked at the shewritesuniversity link. I haven't gone any further than identifying a course I might be interested in. I'm a little put off by the fact that a) they're gender discriminatory, and b) american. If it also means I have to directly interact via camera and microphone then that is a definite downside, especially given time differences.

  • The futurelearn courses only interact via comments etc. Some have assignments and videos to watch but you can do them or not as you think fit. 
  • I did a futurelearn one - community journalism - enjoyed it.  The website is easy to follow and you can go more in depth if you wish by watching their videos etc.  Would recommend.  The community journalism was offered by Cardiff University.  Don't know if it is still on offer as it was some while back when I did it.

  • Lots of free courses around online at the moment.  
  • The She Writes University thing looks like a marketing strategy (I should know – I write them professionally). Yes, there will be a free course (probably video lessons), but most important for the company is that they get your contact details, which they will use to bombard you with emails for the rest of your natural life.

    I see that some of the teachers have written only one book, which in my opinion isn't enough qualification teach. 
  • 'Unsubscribe from emails' should solve that problem for you, Gerald. If you do receive lots of spammy emails, perhaps change your email provider to a more robust one. Mine has an 'unsubscribe and report as spam' option. 
  • GeraldQ said:
     Yes, there will be a free course (probably video lessons)

    I see that some of the teachers have written only one book, which in my opinion isn't enough qualification teach. 

    WEA have lots of free courses available at the moment.  Those I've enrolled on are not video lessons.  They're Zoom meetings,

    What qualifications would be enough, in your opinion, GeraldQ?

  • LizLiz
    edited June 2020
    I'm not sure qualifications tell you anything about a teacher's ability to teach. Writing a book or multiple books doesn't tell you if they can teach well - you'd need to ask for reviews of their course and whether people have gone on to be successful. My very first writing tutor, a man, had qualifications coming out of his elbows but was completely rubbish, so much so that I got together with the other people on the course and we complained and he was sacked. I had never been on a course before and I still knew he was rubbish. My next tutor, a woman (whose course was well reviewed), had written at the time one book (she also wrote for Writing Magazine), and she was AMAZING. 

    I've written 5 books. I have an MA (with distinction) in writing. Does that give me the ability to teach? No, it doesn't. In fact I can teach one-to-one in my genre but it would not in my opinion qualify me to teach multiple people in a group who might all be writing in different genres and for different reasons. And it doesn't mean, even if I had experience doing that, that I could teach WELL. 

    However, I am pretty sure that there are people out there who have one book published who can teach because they are born teachers, inspirers and managers of groups. 

  • I can tell the difference in experience in tutors between the two courses I've enrolled on. 
  • edited June 2020
    I'm starting a poetry course as a learner next week. I'm really looking forward to it. It helps because I have been tutored before by the person who is delivering the course. So that was a nice surprise to find out today. 

  • Sounds fun, dora! Good that you feel in safe hands with the tutor.

    I would dread being taught by someone if it was evident that they didn't know their stuff, or if they weren't inspirational. My favourite bit about teaching was seeing their little faces light up when they were fired up about a topic, or the penny dropping that moment of understanding.
  • Thanks, TN.

    I have joined several free courses over the last few weeks, and am enjoying them all bar one.  There is one tutor I don't find inspiring, so I've dropped that course.  It's great having the time to do courses.  Not having to pay for once, is brill.
  • Yes, fabulous!
  • "What qualifications would be enough, in your opinion, GeraldQ?"

    Writing one book isn't, in itself, automatically a qualification to teach writing. Most first novelists struggle a lot with a first book. If they've written it in multiple drafts over years, they may not even be sure how they actually did it. They may not yet have a process.

    Sure, they can share some useful experiences, and the fact of being published means they are at a level where they can teach craft. I taught on an MA course where two other lecturers had written one published novel apiece, and while they were capable of teaching craft, they were hazy on structure and process (essential for writing a novel).

    Students would ask how to plot or how to plan character arcs and these two lecturers would say something like "Oh, just go with the flow," or "It just comes together." Such comments are not helpful and students complained to me. They wanted to learn about plot movements and how to use chapters but these lecturers had written their own books haphazardly. It can be done, but it can't really be taught.

    I think a good writing teacher is someone who has written at least two published novels, but who is also a person that is able to explain the process beyond the solely personal. It's important to understand the struggles writers go though as they try to understand narrative perspective, for example. 

    I started teaching professionally after having three novels published and two others completed. I'd had seven years of full-time teaching experience before that and I was also working as an agency journalist.

    There are many excellent writers who are not good teachers because they can't explain their process or because they're too introverted to stand in front of a class. The ideal teacher is a professional writer with the mentality of a student.

    Alas, professional writing pays so little that anyone with a published book is likely to look for opportunities to capitalise on that. The danger – I've seen it many times – is that it's too easy to write one or two books and live off them forever as a teacher. I believe a really good teacher is one who is always writing and always learning.

    I recall one occasion when a very famous writer came to address our MA students. Each student was allowed to present the writer with 1000 words for a verbal critique. This professional writer told one of my students that their work was excellent, and while the prose itself was very good, the student's novel was chaotic and totally unpublishable. Of course, the famous writer didn't know that. The problem: this student subsequently became unsupportable and wouldn't listen to any lecturers because "so-and-so says my work is excellent." The student went on to hand in a deeply flawed novel that was never going to be published because it was really two disparate ideas wodged clumsily together.
  • Yes. All the MA teachers on my course were practising writers. And they all knew their stuff, I'm glad to say. 
  • Anyone else signing up to courses this September?

    There are absolutely tons and tons and tons online free courses available atm.

  • I've used Future Learn for quite a few things, poetry, fiction, scriptwriting, Italian, linguistics, basics of anthropology (just so I'd know what my daughter was talking about coming home at weekends from uni :smiley: ) I find I'm not very good at finishing them and have had to catch the next transmission of some, but I like the fact that they're free and you can 'chat' to like-minded people in the comments (not that I need any more opportunities to do that online!)
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