I love teaching. I’ve actually got a master’s degree in education that I got thinking that that’s what I was going to do with my life. I used to teach at my local community college in their continuing education department, which was fantastic – enthusiastic, committed students who are there because they want to be there. In recent years, however, I’ve been teaching more and more online.

You would think that because someone takes an online course, they’d want to be there. Apparently, not so!

Usually in a class of ten people, depending on which website is hosting the class, about one-third to half of the people registered will actually participate in the class. What are the others doing?

I think – and hope! – that they’re downloading the materials to be reviewed later.

I have to say, that is one of the wonderful things about taking an online class. You don’t actually have to take it when the class is offered. You can take it at your own convenience. The only problem with this is that frequently, the only time you’ve got access to the instructor is during the class.

Maybe that’s my problem! I tell students who take my online classes that they can contact me any time they want, even after the class has ended, with questions. What this means in reality, is that I’m posting my lectures (usually in the form of a nice note to introduce the topic and then a PDF for students to download for easy reading whenever they want) and they are going into a silent void.

Why, yes, I am teaching a class right now and that is precisely what’s happening! As far as I can tell, there’s one person of all of those signed up for the class I’m currently teaching (self-publishing) who is actually reading my lectures. I am being given no feedback as to whether anyone is even opening my lectures or downloading anything, and I’m certainly not getting any responses from the students (I assign homework with each class or ask for feedback, but nothing is being done).

It’s quite frustrating and a bit sad for me.

I put time and energy into my classes and I’m getting zilch back. To me, this isn’t actually teaching. Teaching involves a two-way interaction. Me, sharing my knowledge, and the students say ‘oh, wow!’ or ‘yeah, I knew that’ or even just a ‘huh!’. But with online teaching, too frequently I get:  (Yes, that would be silence.)

There are so many amazing classes out there for writers to take. You can take a class in almost every aspect of writing craft. You can take classes specific to your genre. There are classes in time-management and classes in marketing. There classes for everyone from beginners right through those who are far more advanced. You can even take a class on how to offer online classes! Pretty meta, right? (Which gives me an idea – maybe I should write a blog on how to write blogs! LOL!)

The thing about taking an online class – and this is purely me being selfish – is that the instructor needs to hear from you. They need some feedback. They need to know that you, the student, are there even if all you’re doing is downloading the lectures to be read at another time.

So I send out this plea to you, please, please, take online classes. You can learn so much! They are fantastic, easy ways to learn how to write, how to format, how to do anything you might want to learn how to do in this crazy business. But if you do, please interact! Please post something, some time just so that you are actually present.

Thank you!

End of rant and PSA.

Now, tell me, have you ever taken an online class? Was it good? Would you recommend to someone else? I’d love to hear about your experience! Oh, and I’ll be teaching a number of online classes in the next few months:

Word for Writers at Contemporary Romance Chapter February 4-8

Savvy Authors will be hosting a Build A Book Workshop Month from March through April during which there will be one-week intensive classes. I’ll be offering Formatting with Jutoh and Word for Writers the week of March 11th. It doesn’t seem to be listed on their website yet, but keep an eye out for it!