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Michigan State is offering a non-credit writing MOOC (massive open online course) targeted towards students preparing for post-secondary writing requirements, ESL students looking to work on their English, and professionals looking for a chance to hone their craft. This course, called “Thinking Like a Writer”, will be taught by professor and chair of Michigan State University Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Culture Jeff Grabil in partnership with Director of First-Year Writing at Michigan State Julie Lindquist free of charge.
Improving English and writing skills is often done most successfully through interactive methods with plenty of instruction and help from peers with the editing and revising process. Michigan State will be using a system called Eli Review, which allows students to interact with each other and their professors on a massive scale and in real time, providing suggestions and reviews to each others drafts. A look on the Facebook page shows some confusion or perhaps technical errors in the course. At least two students seem to be posting their assignments there as they are having access issues with the online system being used to administer the course. Considering that the course runs from July 1 to Aug 31, it is no surprise that they are working out the kinks.
The course is offered free, and appears to be functioning as a working course as well as an experiment in online learning for Michigan State, perhaps before they delve into for-credit courses for the humanities. While Michigan State University offers 3 other MOOCs, this is the first in the field of humanities. This course is offered in partnership with MSUglobal, which is a future oriented entrepreneurial unit in the Office of the Provost at Michigan State. This unit is engaged in developing, implementing, and funding new initiatives in higher education.
One thing is for sure, this is a course for the modern age. With a Facebook page, Twitter account and Youtube videos, Michigan University is using the tools of social media to the best of its abilities to attract new students.
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