A science writing MOOC

Hilary Cadman Professional development Leave a Comment

I’m pleased to have completed the Writing in the Sciences course from Coursera. It was an interesting experience, and a good introduction to MOOCs.

What did I learn? Primarily, that my usual practice of starting with a blank page and expecting to fill it with erudite prose is NOT the best way to write something. Instead, I now go for a walk or a bike ride, do some gardening or just potter around the house, mulling over the topic I want to write about.  Once I have a fairly clear plan in my head, I make a few notes on paper about the main points I will cover, and only then do I sit down and open a blank document. I’m finding that this is a great deal more effective than my previous approach. 

Another positive was the videos — I liked the content and the presenter’s direct, down-to-earth style — although to save time and my internet quota, I mostly just read the accompanying PDFs. The editing parts of the course were encouraging, because they validated what I do in my work and what I teach when giving editing courses.  I also enjoyed the online discussion boards.

The biggest downside to the course was the assignments. Editing text via a dialogue box on the course website was difficult and clunky (it wasn’t possible to copy and paste from Word, because all the formatting, and thus the tracking, disappeared). This made marking of other students’ work quite a challenge, although I got better at it as the course went on.

Overall, it was a positive experience, and I would highly recommend this course. Now I’m tempted to look through the other 206 courses on offer …

Hilary CadmanA science writing MOOC

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