UCLA Extension

Online or Onsite: That is the Question

One of the most common questions we hear at the Writers’ Program is, “Which format is best: online or onsite?” Of course, for those of you that live outside the LA area, it’s a no-brainer — online learning provides top-notch writing education for people anywhere in the world as long as you have a wifi connection. But for those of you who live within driving distance of the UCLA campus, the choice between onsite and online is a difficult one.  Even instructor Daniel M. Jaffe who teaches both online and onsite, struggles with the decision.

“Online learning takes place a little faster because both students and teacher must articulate in writing every single question and comment. On the other hand, online study is not as good for networking or socializing, aspects of writing study that are more important for some students than for others.”

Personally, I’ve taken my share of classes in both mediums, and when a student asks me which format is best, my answer is always “It depends.” But what exactly does it depend on?

How important is flexibility?

Online courses are asynchronous, so they’re a natural choice for students who prefer to study when the mood strikes.  With online courses, you can log on and participate in class at virtually any time of day or night – while waiting at the airport lounge, while sipping cocktails in Cancun, or while lying in bed at 3 am when you just can’t fall asleep.  But…if you love routine and prefer a more structured approach to learning, then I suggest you stick with the traditional classroom for your writing education.

Need more friends or need more time?

Being in a classroom, surrounded by like-minded students, can be a welcome respite from the isolation of writing. Writers’ Program students usually find an amazing group of peers in their classrooms, and often form friendships that continue long after the quarter ends. On the other hand, if you’re constantly juggling the demands of family and career, think of all the precious time you’ll save by not having to commute to campus.

Do you like having the option to pause and rewind?  Or do you prefer an organic approach to learning?

Online learning offers you the ability to digest material at your own pace. It allows you to think about what you want to say and edit your thoughts if they don’t come out just the way you intended.  Additionally, the online platform allows you to refer back to everything that’s been said and done in class, and even allows you to download the material for future reference.  And that’s pretty cool.  Then again, there’s something to be said for being able to discuss your work face-to-face with others, and for having a lively exchange of ideas in real time. If the latter sounds appealing, then stick with onsite.

So you see, it all depends…on you!  The truth is, there’s no right or wrong way to learn.  The important thing is that you keep on writing!

There are still some open courses for winter, so take that first step and get serious about your writing now.  Call a Writers’ Program advisor today to find out which course is right for you.

Creative Writing (Onsite)
Phoebe Lim
(310) 825-9416
plim@unex.ucla.edu

Creative Writing (Online)
Ani Cooney
(310) 825-0107
acooney@unex.ucla.edu

Screenwriting/Television
Jeffrey Bonnett
(310) 206-1542
JBonnett@unex.ucla.edu

Phoebe Lim is the Program Assistant for Creative Writing (Onsite).  

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