My experience with FutureLearn

My apologies for not posting as regularly as usual over the past two months. They’ve been quite hectic with one thing or the other, mostly good things :-D, and one of those reasons has been the FutureLearn courses I’ve been doing.

Since January, I’ve been taking free online courses (MOOCs) via FutureLearn. My thanks to blogger Jacki Kellum for recommending the Start Writing Fiction course, an 8 week course which I’ve only just finished. I thought I’d give this course a go as I felt my characterisation techniques and writing needed a serious polishing. This was the focus of the course, run by Open University.

As I find most writing courses too expensive (my research a few years ago revealed that most university writing modules are more expensive than science modules!), I decided to try this writing course to see whether taking a full-course would be worth my time and money–should I be able to afford one in the forseeable future. There is a certificate available for the module I took at a cost of GBP34, but I’m not sure if this currently counts towards university credits.

I enjoyed most parts of the FutureLearn writing course. I’m not a great one for analysing stories for techniques, so while not my favourite part, those exercises were quite useful. I am now more aware of my writing techniques, their pitfalls, and how I might strengthen them.

My favourite was the flash-fiction story writing experience we practiced. Most character sketches and assignments were limited to 300-400 words while the final story could only be a maximum of 1000 words.

Fellow students reviewed my work in a very helpful manner, and I had to review others work as well. All reviewing was done according to a set criteria.
Conversations and discussions were also interesting. Fellow students were both beginners who had never written a story, and more experienced writers.

While I had no interaction with the lecturers and moderators on this course, I still highly recommend it to any one looking to see if they can manage an online writing course from a university.

I also took two other courses with FutureLearn: Arts and Antiquities Trafficking from the University of Glasgow, and An Introduction to Screenwriting by the University of East Anglia. The screenwriting one is still in progress, and I’m falling behind in my homework, so I’m going to catch up on that now. I’ll clue you in on it, and The Arts and Antiquities course next week.

Before I go, just a reminder that the Smashwords Read An Ebook Week is still on, and that we’ve released some new short stories for March, so if you can’t manage a novel through another busy month, grab one of our short stories or freebies instead.

Catch you later!



  1. Oh good I love online courses! I am a perpetual student, learning something or the other but I gotta say I do get distracted most times ๐Ÿ™‚ I have been thinking on learning to write recently. I have written just few short poems way back so this will be useful for me in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad it’s of help ๐Ÿ™‚ Me too! Distractions and finding time can be a problem! Fortunately, if you don’t complete the course on time, the materials are still available to you. Yes, this course was very good for fiction, though what you learn about characterisation could be applied to lots of writing forms.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the post Leenna. ๐Ÿ™‚ 8 weeks is a pretty long time to keep oneself away from any kind of distractions and staying focused. Recently I’ve been trying to check various online courses and so this seems very helpful. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Norma. Glad you found it useful. I just managed to keep up despite having a pretty hectic few months, so it’s not as daunting as it may seem. Some of the tasks are merely reading a short post and commenting about the author’s methods. It’s not too different from hanging out with blogging friends in that respect:) Thanks for dropping by:)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. […] was going through some of my old work and came across this writing exercise from the FutureLearn course I did last year. Itโ€™s much like an exercise I used to do with my students who loved guessing the […]


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