100 Open Courses to Take Your Writing to the Next Level

October 1st, 2005

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Whether you are in high school, a graduate student, or a professional writer, there is loads of help on the web for your writing. An essential part to any career, everyone from journalists to managers to politicians need to have an impressive prose. Those low on funds will find a wide array of tools to take their writing to the next level with these 100 open courses from everyone from leading universities to private companies.

MIT Undergraduate Open Courses To Take Your Writing To The Next Level

Start your free education off right by taking the same writing classes as the undergraduates of this leading Ivy League school.

  1. The Nature of Creativity : Get your writing to the next level by getting your creative juices flowing with this open course. It is an introduction to problems about creativity as it pervades human experience and behavior.
  2. Writing About Literature : Up your writing skills by writing about famous works of literature, poetry, and more. Goals of the course include increasing students skills in reading, knowing a single writer deeply, and encouraging independent decisions.
  3. New Media Literacies : Study literacy theory through media context in this course from ancient Greece to the present. Readings include Plato, Graff, Brandt, Heath, Lemke, Gee, Alvermann, Jenkins, Hobbs, Pratt, and Lankshear and Knobel.
  4. Shakespeare, Film and Media : A master of writing, study Shakespeare on film with this open course. Most of the work will involve analysis of the film text, aided by videotape, DVD, the Shakespeare Electronic Archive.
  5. Media in Cultural Context: Popular Readerships : This course will introduce students to the history of popular reading and to controversies about taste and gender that have characterized its development. Learn how to write for both men and women, different tastes, and more by taking this open course.
  6. International Women’s Voices : Learn how to take your writing to the next level by studying these leading women in history. Contemporary women writers studied will be from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and North America.
  7. The Linguistic Study of Bilingualism : If you speak more than one language and want to improve your writing, try this course. It examines the development of bilingualism in human history from Lucy to present day.
  8. Expository Writing for Bilingual Students : Similar to the above, this course specifically targets student’s abilities to write in two or more languages. It includes an extensive set of general writing guide handouts, located in the study materials section.
  9. Foreign Languages and Literatures : Examine the terms “avant garde” and “Kulturindustrie” in French and German culture of the early twentieth century through this open course. Figures considered include everyone from Adorno to Tzara.
  10. Advanced Spanish Conversation and Composition : This course examines perspectives on technology and culture in the language of Spanish. For fluent speakers only, students work on taking both their speaking and writing to the next level.
  11. Philosophy in Film and Other Media : See how philosophers have influenced writing and other media with this open course. It examines works of film in relation to thematic issues of philosophical importance that also occur in other arts, particularly literature and opera.
  12. The Art of the Probable: Literature and Probability : The objective of this open course is to focus on the formal, thematic, and rhetorical features that imaginative literature shares with texts in the history of probability. These issues include the causes for phenomena that are knowable only in their effects and the question of what it means to think and act rationally in an uncertain world.
  13. Technologies of Humanism : This open course explores the properties of narratives as they have evolved from print to digital media. Works covered range from the Talmud, classics of non-linear novels, experimental literature, early sound and film experiments to recent multi-linear and interactive films and games.

MIT Graduate Open Courses To Take Your Writing To The Next Level

For those who are serious about taking their writing to the next level, try these open graduate courses from MIT.

  1. Theory and Practice of Non-linear and Interactive Narrative : This class covers a range of topics including hypertext, interactive cinema, games, installation art, and soundscapes. It examines the potential for dynamic narrative in traditional media like novels and films, as well as in computer-based stories and games.
  2. From Print to Digital: Technologies of the Word, 1450-Present : Are books truly dead or dying? Find out by taking this advanced course, along with some help for your writing.
  3. Documenting Culture : If you want to make documentaries and take your writing to the next level, check out this course. It studies distinctions commonly made between documentary and ethnographic films to consider how human cultural life is portrayed in both.
  4. Popular Narrative: Masterminds : From magicians to master spies to detectives to scientists, this course can help your writing by examining them all. The major written work of the term will be an ongoing reading journal, which you will circulate to your classmates using an e-mail mailing list.
  5. Communicating Across Cultures : This open course is designed to help you meet the challenges of living in a world where your writing will interact with people who may not be like you in fundamental ways. Its primary goals are to provide you with the knowledge and skills that will help you interact successfully with people from other cultures.
  6. High-Intermediate Academic Communication : The goal of this course is to review grammar and develop vocabulary building strategies to refine oral and written expression. Speaking and writing assignments are designed to expand communicative competence.
  7. Advanced Workshop in Writing for Science and Engineering : Science and engineering students who want to take their writing to the next level should have a look at this open course. It covers analysis and practice of various forms of scientific and technical writing, from memos to journal articles.
  8. Advanced Workshop in Writing for Social Sciences and Architecture : This workshop is designed to help students write clearly, accurately, and effectively in both an academic and a professional environment. In class, students analyze various forms of writing and address problems common to advanced speakers of English.
  9. Interactive and Non-Linear Narrative: Theory and Practice : This course covers techniques of creating narratives that take advantage of the flexibility of form offered by the computer. The open course studies the properties of book-based narratives that experiment with digression, multiple points of view, disruptions of time, and of storyline.
  10. Listening, Speaking, and Pronunciation : This open course is designed for high-intermediate ESL students who need to develop better listening comprehension and oral skills. A good choice for those who want to take their writing to the next level but need some help in English.
  11. Advanced Speaking and Critical Listening Skills : Another good choice for those needing help in both English and writing. The open course focuses on the appropriate oral and written presentation of material in a variety of professional contexts.
  12. Major Media Texts : This open course does intensive close study and analysis of historically significant media texts that have been considered landmarks. Such texts may include oral epic, story cycles, plays, novels, films, opera, television drama and digital works.
  13. Media In Transition : This course centers on historical eras in which the form and function of media technologies were radically transformed. It includes consideration of the Gutenberg Revolution, the rise of modern mass media, and the digital revolution.

Open Courses To Take Your Business Writing To The Next Level

Those in the white collar world who want to increase their writing skills will enjoy the below open courses.

  1. Marketing Writing Tips : Get five mistakes to avoid in marketing writing in this quick lesson from the HP Learning Center. They include headlines, tone, content, word count, and call to action.
  2. World Literature: Travel Writing : Learn how to write for travel and earn some extra cash with this open course from MIT. Students read writing about travel and place from Columbus’s “Diario” through the present.
  3. Develop A Marketing Color Scheme : Take the visuals of your business to the next level with this free class, also from the HP Learning Center. In just a short, three minute video, an expert shows you how to develop the correct color scheme for your marketing collateral.
  4. Accounting 101 : Learn how to deal with the accounting side of your business with this free open course. It is provided free of charge by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  5. Kutztown Small Business Development Center : Choose from an array of open courses on business and writing here. They include analyzing financial ratios, financial needs, and more.
  6. Management Communication for Undergraduates : The Sloan School of Management is a leading business school and part of MIT. Learn how their graduates take business writing to the next level by taking this course.
  7. Communicating With Data : Use data to make informed management decisions with illustrations of how real decision makers fall prey to errors and biases in their understanding. The fundamental concepts for enhancing decision-making skills are discussed.
  8. Creative Business Writing Course : This open course is for anyone who has to write reports, press releases, marketing copy, newsletters, annual reports, or sit-up-and-take-notice letters. This easy and accessible course is provided at no charge by the Impact Factory.
  9. Start Up Basics For The First Time Entrepreneur : If you’re starting up a business for the first time, this course will provide a helpful overview of what to expect. It also includes what you should know and what to watch out for.
  10. Printing Better Marketing Materials In-House : Get ten quick tips for printing your business’s materials and save tons of money. The lesson also helps with market collateral, first impressions, and more.

Literature Open Courses To Take Your Writing To The Next Level

Learn how to take your writing to the next level by reading and studying the works of those who already have.

  1. Introduction to Literary Theory : The open course focuses on the way we read, providing an overview of some of the different strategies of reading, comprehending, and engaging with literary texts developed in the twentieth century. Writing is used to understand better theories of literary interpretation.
  2. Introduction to Fiction : This course investigates the uses of fiction in a range of novels and raises questions about the meanings of verbal texts in different cultures, times, and forms. Toward the end of the term, students will be particularly concerned with the relationship between art and war in a diverse selection of works.
  3. Introduction to Contemporary Hispanic Literature : This course studies representative twentieth and twenty-first-century texts and films from Hispanic America and Spain. Emphasis is on developing strategies for analyzing the genres of the novel, the short story, the poem, the fictional film, and the theatrical script.
  4. American Classics : This subject is devoted to reading and discussing basic American historical texts that are often cited, understanding their meaning, and assessing their continuing significance in American culture. It is also dedicated to improving students’ capacities to write and speak well.
  5. Classics in Western Philosophy : Study major figures in philosophy and their writings such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, and Kant. In the process of evaluating the arguments of these philosophers, you will develop your own philosophical and analytical skills.
  6. Foundations of Western Culture: Homer to Dante : Authors of works such as “The Odyssey” and “The Inferno,” these are the works upon which modern writing is based. Everything in between is also studied.
  7. American Literature : Produce 20 pages of polished writing with careful attention to revision with this open course. It also offers substantial opportunities for presentations of written work.
  8. Bestsellers: Detective Fiction : A useful open course for those who wish to write, or simply enjoy reading, detective fiction. Take your writing to the next level by studying works such as “Sherlock Holmes” and others.
  9. Literary Studies: The Legacy of England : This course examines English literature across genre and historical periods. It is designed for students who want to study English literature or writing in some depth, or to know more about English literary culture and history.
  10. Literature and Ethical Values : The aim of this open course is to acquaint the student with important works of philosophy and the viewpoint of those works on the study of classic works of literature. Readings include “Genesis,” “The Republic,” works by Martin Luther King, and more.
  11. Renaissance Literature : Literary genres sampled with this open course include sonnets, plays, prose narratives, utopias, and chivalric romance. Famous authors such as Amerigo Vespucci, Thomas More, Christopher Marlowe, Francis Drake, Mary Rowlandson, and Francis Bacon will be read and analyzed.

English Open Courses To Take Your Writing To The Next Level

Go beyond literature to study drama, poetry, novels, and more to take your writing to the next level.

  1. Major Poets : Read poems from the Renaissance through the 17th and 18th centuries, Romanticism, and Modernism. Focus will also be on writing the techniques of persuasion and of sequential argumentation.
  2. Introduction to Drama : Take your writing to the next level by examining how it was meant to be for the stage. This course will explore theater across periods and cultures, through intensive engagement with texts and readings.
  3. Major English Novels : Learn why the art of the novel became so popular in the eighteenth century through this open course, along with how writing was taken to the next level back then. Readings include “Moll Flanders,” “Pride and Prejudice,” and others.
  4. Major European Novels : Learn how and why European novels dealt with the everyday person, rather than royalty, through this course. Assigned novels include “Don Quixote,” “Madame Bovary,” “Crime and Punishment,” and more.
  5. Major English Novels: Reading Romantic Fiction : If you are interested in taking your romantic novel writing to the next level, this open course is for you. Students of the class read about plagues, wars, hysterics, monsters, and more in novels by authors including William Godwin, Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, and Walter Scott.
  6. Romantic Poetry : This course examines readings of the major British Romantic poets including Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Scott, Shelley, and Keats. Important fiction writers such as Mary Shelley and Walter Scott are also examined.
  7. 20th Century Fiction : Recurring themes in this open course include the role of the artist in the modern period, the representation of psychological and sexual experience, and the virtues and defects of character. Works by such writers as Conrad, Kipling, Isaac Babel, Kafka, Woolf, Faulkner, and Nabokov are discussed.
  8. Modern Drama : This open course analyzes major modern plays featuring works by Shaw, Pirandello, Beckett, Brecht, Williams, Soyinka, Hwang, Churchill, Wilson, Frayn, Stoppard, Deveare Smith, and Kushner.
  9. Modern Poetry : Read the major poems by the most important poets in English in the 20th century, emphasizing the period between 1918-1940. New theories of linguistics and anthropology are also discussed.
  10. The American Novel : This open course explores the metaphorical, historical, social, and psychological value of ghosts in the American novel. Readings include “The Scarlet Letter,” “Beloved”, and “Absalom, Absalom!”
  11. Studies in Fiction: Rethinking the American Masterpiece : Learn how to rethink your own writing by taking a fresh look at those of American masters. Texts examined include “Moby Dick,” “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”
  12. Does Poetry Matter? : Explore the troublesome topic of the relevance, impact, and importance of poetry in a troubled modern world. Students read both poetry and prose by several substantial modern writers, each of whom confronted the question that is the subject’s title.

Software Open Courses To Take Your Writing To The Next Level

Use these software open courses to learn everything from writing for the web, print, and everything in between.

  1. Microsoft Windows 2007 : Writers at all levels use this software. Learn the tips and tricks, along with special features, from this short tutorial.
  2. Microsoft OneNote: Creating and Using Notebooks : Find out how to use notebooks in Microsoft OneNote 2007 to organize your notes by topic, project, class or organization. A five minute video from HP shows you how.
  3. How-to From Microsoft : Learn how to use a variety of Microsoft programs to take your writing to the next level including hidden text, Publisher, and many others. Accessories such as Movie Maker and Paint are also included.
  4. Windows 7 : Want to know more about what Windows 7 can do for your writing before you install it? Then take a quick tour and demo from Microsoft at no charge here.
  5. Adobe Photoshop Basics : Get a free class in this leading photo editing software from About.com. Useful for taking your writing to the next level by adding impressive and custom images to it.
  6. Adobe Acrobat Tutorials : Create, edit, and share PDF documents as part of taking your writing to the next level. Adobe has several tutorial videos to show you how.
  7. Dreamweaver Developer Center : Want to take your website writing to the next level? Then a software like Dreamweaver can help you. This site also has tutorials on how to use it, along with an array of starter designs.
  8. Adobe InDesign : If you’re ready to take your writing to the graphic design level, check out InDesign. This tutorial will show you how to use it and save or charge a good deal of money.
  9. eBooks: A Different Way To Read : Improve your writing through reading from your computer. This open course will show you how to utilize Microsoft Reader to do just that.
  10. Final Draft Tutorial : Screenwriters who want to go to the next level should look into a leading software like Final Draft. The tutorial is also a useful guide for those who are already somewhat familiar with the program.
  11. Zoho Writer Goes Offline : If you use Zoho Writer for collaborative writing, check out this useful video. It shows you how to utilize Zoho in the offline mode.

Technology Open Courses To Take Your Writing To The Next Level

Because the next level of writing is in 2.0, use these open courses to learn the latest.

  1. Technology for Professional Writers : Get the necessary technical skills to obtain the most fulfilling and best paid position in the writers’ market with this open course. It is designed to give the accomplished writer the technological skills needed in the writing industry.
  2. The Dynamic Word: Textuality and Technology : Capilano University shows you the various ways technology has both influenced and been incorporated into literary works of the modern period. Course texts will comprise an assortment of media formats, ranging from experiments in typography and sound recording to electronic multimedia formats suitable for online publishing.
  3. HTML Basics : Presented by The University of Washington, this open course can show you how a few dots and slashes can take your writing to the internet level. Topics covered include HTML basic structure, tags, document structure, and more.
  4. Writing for the Web : Get help on how to write directly for the web from Useit.com. A series of short lessons is on everything from F-pattersn to newsletters.
  5. How To Write For Websites : This short lesson from “Associated Content” shows you how to get paid to write for the web. Take your writing to the next level by getting paid with its help.
  6. Introduction to Web Writing : Wikiversity gives you a short, comprehensive guide to taking your writing to the digital level. A short history and rules of thumb are given.
  7. Web Page Authoring : The Sophia Open Content Initiative has several open courses available to all, including this one for writers. It is a beginning introduction to using HTML to create web pages which can be uploaded and displayed on the Word Wide Web.
  8. Converting to Tabloid : This technology is used by such leading sites as “The Wall Street Journal.” Learn what this valuable technology can do for your writing by taking the free course from News University.
  9. Online Media Law : Don’t take your writing to the illegal level with the help of this open course. It addresses three important areas of media law: defamation, privacy, and copyright.

Open Courses To Take Your Blog Writing To The Next Level

Keep your writing on top or ahead of the next level by checking out these free open courses, tutorials, and more.

  1. Blog Basics : This site gives a free tutorial on what a blog is and how to utilize it. Three parts include terminology, components, and what’s next.
  2. Blogs, Wikis, New Media for Learning : Utah State University shows you how to take writing 2.0 to the next level. This open course is designed to show a variety of technologies including blogs, RSS, wikis, social bookmarking tools, photo sharing tools, mapping tools, audio and video podcasts, and even screencasts.
  3. 10 Things You Can Do For Free On Your Website : Utilize both your blog and website to the max with this open course from News University. It shows you how online features such as reader comments and live video can be done for free and with a minimum of technical expertise required, along with other useful tips.
  4. The Art of Writing Great Twitter Headlines : Don’t forget the art of micro-blogging with Twitter. Copyblogger gives five useful and inventive tools for tweeting your writing to the next level.
  5. Netiquette : Modern Manners Guy shows you how to keep and maintain your cool, whether blogging or other form of communication. Facebook and Twitter etiquette are also discussed.
  6. How To Choose A Social Media Site That Fits Your Blog : This podcast shows you how to choose a blogging site to best fit your writing. Listen to this, or other helpful podcasts, or read the full entry.
  7. WordPress Tutorials : A leading blog host, learn how to use it to take your blogging to the next level. Lessons include why blog, speaking geek, better search rankings, and profits.
  8. Blogger Buster : Another blog host, Blogger is also a popular choice. This site has a comprehensive list of dozens of tutorials to help you write on it.
  9. SquareSpace: Styling Your Site : A newer provider of blog hosting, SquareSpace can be an impressive, yet intimidating way to write a blog. Learn how to do it like a pro in this instructional video.

Specialty Open Courses To Take Your Writing To The Next Level

Get the best of the rest in open courses for writers by taking a look at the below.

  1. Understanding Television : Television needs writers too, and this open course can help you grasp the concept. It takes a cultural approach to television’s evolution as a system of storytelling and myth-making.
  2. The Bible : This open course is an introduction to major books from both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Particular attention has been given to literary techniques and the different historical periods that produced and are reflected in the Bible.
  3. Get Me A Rewrite: The Craft of Revision : This open course covers everything you need to improve your writing through the craft of revision. It is meant for journalists, but useful for all writers.
  4. Race and Identity in American Literature: Keepin’ It Real Fake : Don’t keep your writing from going to the next level by writing unauthentically for multiple races. Discussions of the open course include what does it mean to act black, white, privileged, or underprivileged.
  5. Topics in Comparative Media: American Pro Wrestling : Explore the cultural history and media industry surrounding the masculine drama of professional wrestling with this open course. Learn how to take your writing to the next level by examining the unfolding of storylines and modern practices in sports entertainment.
  6. He Said, She Said : Learn not how to alienate the other half of the population through communication, including writing. This open course reviews some key characteristics of gendered communication.
  7. Guide to Writing in History : Sloppiness of expression is as detrimental to historical study as faulty equations are to physics. This open course is designed to help students avoid some of the more obvious pitfalls of misstatement.
  8. Multimedia Reporting : Use this open course from News University to learn how to write journalistic pieces for the new media. It examines the compelling journalism of six online news organizations throughout Hurricane Katrina.
  9. Writing What You Know : This open course includes reading and writing activities that are geared to develop memory, observation, and the senses. The aim is to develop students perceptual abilities and hone their capacity to see.
  10. Glossary of Writing Terms : Confused about any of the terms learned in any of these open courses? Then use this free glossary from Scribendi to look it up.
  11. What is Good Writing? : If you haven’t already learned how to take your writing to the next level with the above open courses, try this one from Open University. It includes the importance of writing, the essay, and more.

These 100 open courses to take your writing to the next level can help you at any level of writing whether blogging for personal reasons or looking to make some extra cash. The price tag for all these tools, tutorials, and courses is also easy on the wallet, even though some are from prestigious universities. In fact, with the right ones for you, your writing may go up more than one level.

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