Okay, I have (officially) completed the first three units of the online course I signed up for last week. Here are my first thoughts. Please be aware that I am a professional teacher (stop laughing at the back!) so I have a lot of experience at keeping people engaged in their learning – even when they have paid and have some enthusiasm for it!
The course is relatively simple. Death by powerpoint (or an online equivalent) before a multiguess style ‘exam’ at the end of each module. Sorry that’s my inner professional teacher trying to burst through, but I am sure you get the drift – a lot of reading and then a 10 question multiple choice test.
Overall the standard of the course is fairly OK, although I would like some variation on the method of presentation, a little more fluidity in the course content AND NO spelling mistakes (of which I have seen several).
The first module was fine, but by the third I was getting a little tired of simply reading a few lines on a slide before going onto the next one. There is also an issue with the testing. The blurb states you have to get 70% to allow access to the next module – fair enough – but they only let you through if you score 8+/10, now I’m sure all you mathmagicians out there have worked out that this is actually 80%. These are probably only very minor issues, but this is something that I, and many others, have paid money for (even if it is only £12 – remember this was a 95% discount)
All this brings me nicely to the first major lesson from this course – as writers, the majority of us will expect people to pay for our work. Therefore we need to act like professionals. Whilst this has been a theme throughout the first few modules, it has been interesting to see (and perhaps I am a little cynical) that the course providers have not always heeded their own advice. The course is OK, but could be great – if it had a more professional feel to it.
Of course, for ‘indie’ writers, being seen as professional can be a problem. Until the big money starts rolling in many of our friends and family simple see this as a hobby – each sale contributing to a cup of tea, rather than the mortgage. But it doesn’t mean we have to bow to these opinions. From now on I am going to try and undertake my writing in a professional manner – same start time, same place (I am lucky enough to have a study), same working hours. Now I know that this will sometimes be a struggle – against myself not only against members of my family who want a piece of my time – but if I don’t start taking my writing seriously who will?