Each day there are new educational initiatives offered online, and many of them are actually from highly-regarded institutions of higher education. In offering classes online, universities are often able to find new and larger audiences while saving money at the same time.
As there are plenty of great online poetry classes available, and as many students have asked me how I recommend finding the best one for them, I decided to put together a few tips that these students have found helpful.
As with any online course, it’s important to know ahead of time what you want out of it. And finding the right poetry class isn’t all that different. For our purposes here, it comes down to addressing each question on the list below. I’ll expand on each of these, but I recommend taking the time to think about and even write down your responses to each:
- Why do you want to take a poetry class?
- When do you want to start?
- What kind of time commitment can you give?
- What kind of financial commitment can you make?
- What type of online learning environment do you prefer?
- Can the poetry instructor address your needs?
Why do you want to take a poetry class?
This is the fundamental question that will steer your research. For example, do you want to take an online poetry class to learn more about the history of the genre, or are you wanting to learn how to write modern poetry? Would you like a certificate at the end of the course or is this simply an opportunity for you to learn?
Answering these questions will narrow the scope of your search and lead you in the right direction.
When do you want to start?
Online courses vary in terms of when they begin and end. Some poetry courses follow the traditional academic model, with classes typically beginning in August/September. With other classes, such as my Making Poems class through Skillshare, you can begin anytime and can take as long as you need.
What kind of time commitment can you give?
It’s important to be honest in answering this one. Some courses are rigorous academically and will expect students to read plenty of materials each week just in preparation for class. Once you know about how much time you can give, you’ll be able to better determine the type of poetry class you’re able to pursue.
What kind of financial commitment can you make?
Classes range from being entirely free to being on par (and in some cases more) than if you were to enroll in a poetry class at your local community college.
Factor this in when deciding, keeping in mind that pricing isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality. There are some fantastic free online poetry classes out there, and there are some expensive courses through universities that may not meet your wants.
What type of online learning environment do you prefer?
Do you want an interactive experience with other students, where you are jumping on video calls, workshopping each other’s poems and generally learning from each other every week?
Or would you prefer to simply listen to an instructor, partaking in private writing exercise in which you are completing exercises on your own time and without the pressure of having to respond to other students?
Likewise, do you want a learning environment where you’ll need to login at certain times or one where you can login and learn whenever you have the time?
Can the poetry instructor address your needs?
Lastly, it’s important to research the online poetry class instructor. Who are they? Have they been recognized by names and/or institutions that you respect? Are they working in such a way that you feel they’d be a great teacher for the particular aspects of poetry that you are wanting to learn?
At a single brick-and-mortar university your options for an instructor may be limited, but online opens up the world to you. It’s up to you to research and choose the best poetry teacher for your wants.
Once you’ve written down your responses to all of the questions posed here, sift through them and put together a Google search query that represents what you are looking for. Here are a few examples:
- Online poetry class with certificate
- Free online history of poetry class
- Introduction to poetry online university class
Lastly, if you’re interested in where to find great online poetry resources, feel free to send me a message.