Evaluating Online Writing Programs
Online writing programs are a great way for working adults to earn their degree without having to give up their 9 to 5 bread-and-butter. Shorter, non-degree workshops and courses also offer writers of all levels the chance to fine tune their writing and to get feedback from others. However, all online courses are not created equal. If you decide that you would like to take courses online, be sure to carefully evaluate all your options. Here are some things to consider:
Type of Program
Online writing courses are available for all needs. There are online degree programs (for a BA, MA, or MFA), as well as certificate programs and non-credit courses. Some intensive writing workshops are also available online, and they can last for a day or a few weeks. Ask yourself what you want to get out of the program. Do you just want to fine tune your writing or work on some problem areas? Or do you want an intense course of study that can advance your professional goals? Each of these programs will have a different focus and will require a different time commitment – as well as varying financial commitments.
What is the focus of the program? Some may offer guidance on all types of writing, while others may focus on particular forms, such as the novel, short story, or memoir. Make sure that your goals line up with the goals of the program. Look at all the required courses and read the descriptions. Also, make sure that the level is appropriate for your current skill set. Are the courses geared toward beginners or more advanced students with some previous training or experience? Before you commit, be sure that the program will be able to meet your needs and help you advance your goals.
Though a successful writing career is not necessarily an indication that a person will be a good teacher, the experience of the professors in your program is an important factor to consider. You will be able to draw on that experience in your own studies. The more experienced and well-known professors teach in the program, the better its reputation will be, as well. If a program has many beginning instructors, do a little research to find out more about them: What was their education? What kind of writing have they done? Have they been published?
Since you will be taking your courses online, you won’t have the benefit of face-to-face interaction or just popping by your professor’s office to ask a question or have a conversation about your work. Find out what level of interaction you will be able to have with your professors. Will there be virtual office hours? Can you e-mail or call when you have a question? How extensive will the feedback be on your work? If the course will rely primarily on peer feedback, be sure you know that ahead of time.
One of the most important aspects of any educational program – whether online or not – is its accreditation and reputation. Always look for a program that is regionally or nationally accredited. Accreditation verifies that the program meets a set of core standards, and this speaks to the rigor and value of the program. Also consider the reputation of the school. If you are seeking a degree or professional advancement, the reputation of your school can impact the opportunities you have.
Choosing an online program is based on a number of personal considerations. However, these factors make for a good starting point when evaluating a new program. Do your research and ask a lot of questions. Make sure the program will work for you and your goals.
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blogger for First in Education where she’s recently written on technical writing careers along with a piece on paramedic jobs. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, playing piano, and working with origami.
technical writing careers http://www.onlinedegrees.org/calculator/occupations/technical-writers