On this, the first day of February, I'm starting an online course titled Passion Play: Create Characters So Real, So Passionate, You Can't Put Them Down, and Neither Will Your Readers. The course costs $25 and is being offered through Wine Country Romance Writers, though you don't have to be a romance writer or a member of the organization to take part. I post my first lesson on Tuesday, Feb. 5, so if you'd like to register through WCRW, there's still time.
Though I've taught workshops in a number of venues, this is the first time I'm teaching online. The opportunity arose when one of the women who helped start WCRW, which is a chapter of the Romance Writers of America, said she'd like to offer workshop opportunities for her members. But because WCRW is located in a less populated region of California, she couldn't get many people to attend workshops, which meant workshop facilitators wouldn't earn much for their efforts, which meant she had a hard time finding speakers.
As an alternative, she and her organization now offer a regular schedule of online workshops where instructors post a certain number of lessons on a special yahoogroups web sit over the course of a month and then answer questions by email. In my case, I'll also be offering an online chat session every Wednesday evening.
While there's nothing like the adrenaline rush and subsequent brainstorming that comes from working with people in person, there are a number of benefits of teaching online:
1. People who can't or don't want to travel can learn about writing while developing an online community of other writers.
2. The workshops aren't limited to those within an immediate area, but rather pull members from all over the country and the world, which makes for a very interesting mix of people. That and instructors can potentially earn more per workshop, given a lot more people can take part.
3. The classes are generally much cheaper than in-person workshops and so are affordable for more people.
4. The instructor doesn't incur any time or travel expenses.
So if you have experience related to writing, or that writers can use, such as knowledge of forensics or police procedures, consider teaching an online class through one of the many writing organizations across the country. You can even offer a class through your own web site, though remember that the success of a class is largely due to three factors:
1. the quality, organization and presentation of your material
2. the ability to advertise the workshop
3. your ability to leave attendees feeling they've gotten their money's worth.
If you've offered an online class, feel free to tell us of your experience.
Need help getting started? Here are a few web sites to get you going:
How Do I Teach Online?
Teaching an Online Course
Essential Elements: Prepare, Design, and Teach Your Online Course (book)
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