The internet is a connection machine. Virtually every single popular web project (eBay, Facebook, chat, email, forums, etc.) exists to create connections between humans that were difficult or impossible to do before the web. (Seth Godin)
Coming of age with the Internet has both ups and downs, but I’m one to take advantage of its offerings specially when it’s in the service of learning, reading and writing. The advent of MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) was like Christmas for me, as I scoured the first few listings of available classes online. The best part? They were all free.
A MOOC is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. Made possible with the Internet, it enables different ways of learning regardless of distance and style. As an introvert who is infinitely curious about the world, this was good news to me. Websites like Coursera, edX, +Acumen are all testaments to new and generous ways of learning.
When Seth writes that the internet is a connection machine, he is also referring to the connection economy which is based on two principles: art and generosity. Art is not merely a painting, but “a human act, a generous contribution, something that might not work, and it is intended to change the recipient for the better, often causing a connection to happen.” Generosity on the other hand is replete with kindness and trust:
When someone takes the time to share a finite resource, one that they cannot hope to be repaid for, generosity happens. (Seth Godin)
Combine works of art with generosity, genuine connections happen. As a writer, Seth’s insights are worth remembering; they are good principles to use and guide the work. MOOCs are examples of art and generosity, and of which we can further enable the process of making art and expanding our own capacities for generosity.
Here are a few of free, online courses on literature and writing:
Modern & Contemporary Poetry
A fast-paced introduction to modern and contemporary U.S. poetry, with an emphasis on experimental verse, from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to the present. Participants (who need no prior experience with poetry) will learn how to read poems that are supposedly “difficult.” Available from Coursera, starts September 10, 2016
Storytelling Fundamentals: Character, Conflict, Context, Craft
A class for creative writers (both aspiring and established), and everyone who wants a deeper understanding of what makes a great story so captivating. You’ll leave this class armed with a tried-and-true framework for writing your own fictional short story, and inspired to put pen to paper. Available from Skillshare
How to be a Writer (A MOOC for kids!)
Writers put words together to tell stories and describe ideas. Language is our tool, and communication our goal. We try hard to be observant, honest, and insightful. Available from DIY
For a list of classes by Seth, check here (not free, but worth every penny).
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Do you know of any free writing courses? Share them in the comments below!
Pia Cortez is a writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She runs a book blog called Libromance where she reviews books and publishes literary features with a queer Filipino immigrant lens. She is a contributor at Hella Pinay, an online magazine for Filipino-American women and at New Life Quarterly, a literary magazine based in Oakland, California. She is currently working on her first novel.