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Saturday, February 7, 2015


One of the items on the bucket list for my upcoming retirement is to write the Great American Novel. I considered Bennington College's MFA in Writing program.  Very tempting, but more than I care to spend at the moment.  I thought about requesting permission to audit courses at Williams College.  No charge, just faculty permission, but then what do I do if I want to travel for a week or more in the middle of the course?  Because of my need for such flexibility, it occurred to me to look into a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), online courses aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the Web.  I'd heard about these but never really dug into them.

Want to learn a foreign language?  Take up creative writing?  Learn how to program?  Learn basic electronics?  How about photography?  Consider a MOOC.  They’re typically free.  With some you can earn college credit hours.  Others are simply for your enjoyment and edification.   Most online classes operate in what is called an "asynchronous" mode. This means that the course participants, including the instructor(s), are not in the course at the same time.  They may not even be online in the same time zone, as is the case in this class!  Because of this, there are communication tools that allow for people to post information at one time and then come back and give feedback at another time.  Some MOOCs are simply put out by individuals who feel like creating one, others are made available by world class universities (e.g.  MIT MOOCs and University of Pennsylvania MOOCs). Click here for a really good search engine to find a MOOC for you.

Getting back to writing the Great American Novel, I figured I’d better first master basic sentence construction.  It was covered at by the good nuns at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Waterford but, at the time, I was too busy sitting in the back row checking out Donna and Jeanne in the rows in front of me.  When I was called on to go to the blackboard and diagram a sentence, I got by but I should have done much better.  So I’ve signed up for Mt. San Jacinto College’s Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade as part one of my preparatory program.  I have 28,000 classmates in the course, from around the world.  There's a pin map maintained on the course site, where you can click and see your classmate's name and a short introduction from them.  Now off to the eight parts of speech.....


  1. Sounds like a fun adventure! I'll be curious to see what you think.