As advisors for the largest open-enrollment writing program in the country, one of the most frequent questions we hear from students inquiring about online courses is: “Um, how does that work??” Given the multitude of learning platforms and formats currently available to universities and educators, this question is an important one.
To start, UCLA Extension utilizes the learning platform Blackboard.com for its online courses. Every class has a “course shell” in Blackboard, which is your hub for everything associated with that course—lectures (typically written, though sometimes video or audio), assignments, readings, links, video/audio content, the discussion boards (where workshopping takes place), and the occasional live chat. You communicate with your instructor and fellow students via the discussion board, so rather than discuss the week’s lecture, readings, and assignments verbally in a 3-hour class, you discuss them in writing over the course of the week.
But what does online learning look like at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program? Funny you should ask! We recently put together a sample writing course—taught by a Writers’ Program instructor with real student participation—to give you a tangible sense of the online Writers’ Program experience.
Like onsite courses, there are deadlines and requirements in an online course, but the beauty of the format is that it allows you to log in and participate whenever it works for you, whether you live in Japan and can only log in at 11pm, or you’re in Los Angeles and can only set aside an hour before work. Because our students are located all over the world, the online classroom is also an exceptionally diverse environment to learn in. Similarly, we are able to tap into a much wider range of writers to teach our courses, so our online instructor roster includes New York based novelists, authors that travel to Africa for research, and even writers living abroad.
Have we piqued your interest yet? Curious about what we have to offer online? Pick up the phone and give us a ring, or shoot us an email. We’re here 8am-5pm PST to answer your questions and help you find the right course for you. And with more than 175 online courses a year, there is something for everyone.
Katy Flaherty is the Program Representative for Creative Writing (Onsite).