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MSU Offering Free Non-Credit 'Massive Online Open Course' In Writing

EAST LANSING -- The most common method for teaching writing skills has always featured extensive face-to-face interaction, both with instructors and peers during the writing and revision process. A pair of Michigan State University faculty members are hoping to find out whether that process can be replicated in an online setting while keeping high levels of engagement intact.

Jeff Grabill, professor and chair of the Michigan State University Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Culture, and Julie Lindquist, Director of First-Year Writing at Michigan State, will teach 'Thinking Like a Writer,' a free online non-credit course focused on helping a wide variety of people improve writing skills.

The massive open online course is geared toward students hoping to prepare for college-level writing, international students looking to improve their English language writing, professionals who hope to sharpen their writing abilities and any individual interested in learning more about the craft of writing.

The course, which runs from July 1 through Aug. 31, will focus on the review and revision process -- the methods most likely to lead to better writing. It will include interaction with instructors as well as peers in the course to give each student in the class as significant feedback on their strengths and weaknesses as writers.

In addition to interaction and engagement centered on the revision process, the course will also help students with persuasive writing, narrative writing, summarizing texts and organizing thoughts in the writing process.

"We hope the course can answer the question, 'Is it possible to teach and learn writing online and at scale?,'" Grabill said. "Students in the course will be improving their own writing skills, but they'll also be helping us create a new kind of experience for teaching writing to others."

The course will be Michigan State University's fourth MOOC and the first MOOC in the Humanities. It was developed in partnership with MSUglobal, an entrepreneurial unit in the Office of the Provost at Michigan State that assists researchers in developing, finding funding for and implementing academic ideas into practice.

Students interested in the course can register online ( and watch a video previewing the course ( 'Think Like a Writer' also has Facebook and Twitter pages.

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