Three weeks have passed and we have come to the end of my first short online course in creative writing. It was a pleasure and honour to support 4 willing participants shake off their inhibitions, adopt a positive mindset and get down to some serious writing!
About the Course
The fundamentals of the course were communication, collaboration, and digital skills. And reflections on how we see ourselves, as individuals and as well as writers, were weaved throughout.
In terms of communication skills I was inspired by the by Masters module Technology-Enhanced Creative Writing led by Veronica Layunta Maurel where we deep-dived into story writing as we played with digital tools. Similarly my own online learning experiences with the Open University, numerous MOOCs and my MA itself (in Digital Technologies for Language Teaching) which is an online distance course, sparked ideas for collaboration. Finally, I integrated a number of digital tools to enhance the learning experience, such as Zoom & Padlet.
As you can see above we used video conferencing tool Zoom to reduce geographical distance and bring ourselves closer together. Being able to interact, even for a short while, with other course members is a great way to help everyone get to know one other. Here everyone drew support form each other in mental preparation for the various writing challenges that lay ahead.
We used Padlet & Slack to post and share our work. Padlet is like a living page, which can hold text, images, audio and video. And this is an example of a photo-story we shared.
Overall, I got positive feedback for the course content and the tasks. Motivation was buoyed by live sessions plus a special guest in the form of my cousin, Shayna Greene, author of Unlike-Minded. However, the participants struggled with time, and were not able to complete all of the activities. Also, interaction was few and far between.
The most telling will be if and how they integrate what they have learnt into their future writing. I have received some positive reports already. One participant said that the activities helped her tackle and write a job application. Another is big fan of the simple drama a plot, with rising tension, conflict and finally resolution, can bring to a story. And the others said they just liked all of the tasks!
What I Can Do Better
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. There is a lot that can be done better next time to help participants complete the assignments – the main aim of the course being, not only to acquire writing tips to improve your story writing, but also to apply what you have learnt to your daily (writing) life. That said, here’s a few pointers for me to review before I run my next online course:
- Give lots of training and support for all digital tools used
- Reduce the overwhelm by reducing the content
- Use simple instructions
- Increase interaction through explicit collaborative activities
- Emphasise the value of tutor and peer feedback
And for the future? Well, what is clear is that we all want to continue writing. So I thought I could lead some simple, but short monthly challenges, which keep us reading and writing regularly. If you would like to join, just get in touch, and I will add you to our small, but welcoming international community.
Apart from that, I would like to run another, CW-related course in November. I am quite interested in stories, and storytelling, so I think that may be the focus of the next one, which I feel excited about already! Again, if you fancy dipping your toes into ST, just contact me to join the group!
Until then, take care.