Online Teaching for Creative Writing - First Class

The background students see for online classes.

For almost two years I've been teaching and developing the creative writing course for my department at a university in South Korea. The department focuses on building up academic English for students who will engage in the international communities in their various specialities. As a writer, of course I was eager to add this option for students to learn how to write in English with more innovation and have enjoyed developing the course to fit the needs of our students.

Going into 2020, I was planning to dabble in some academic research in connection to this course. Then, COVID-19 spread into our peninsula and the semester was delayed.

This was great for my writing. I've been able to make some changes to my book draft that I might have had to delay for months or given up on altogether. So, even though I've been pretty isolated, I've enjoyed my time.

As South Korea saw the explosion of virus diagnoses, the rumour and finally confirmation of online classes spread. A huge part of my instruction style depends on my interaction with students. I'm an expressive teacher verbally and physically. I also like to be available for students before and after class to speak about any issues they might have.

Needless to say, I was dubious about this online teaching malarkey. Our school took their time confirming things and this could have driven me crazy with pre-planning changes and then re-planning everything once I knew the real needs. But I've been in Korea long enough to learn that there's no point in worrying until something happens, because when or if it does, it'll be different than expected. Finally that lesson has sunk in and I wasn't even concerned this past weekend as we approached the first week of classes.

Thanks to technology advances and the huge demand already in place for learning anywhere you happen to be, my usual methods of teaching should be mostly possible. In fact, I'm looking forward to trying out some functions and finding new ways to freshen up my teaching plans.

Today was our first online creative writing class. It went very well, although it is a little taxing trying to engage the class while finding the right button and making sure the correct documents are available for everyone. Most went as planned. It started with looking at what writing is; in essence, storytelling. We read quotations from famous authors about why they write and then thought about our own reasons. This was great preparation to challenge students for their first assignment: flash/micro fiction. Again, we looked at examples, discussing how they were created to cause an impression on the reader. Finally, the students took time themselves to think about what they want to do with their writing - the impression/emotion/experience/conclusion the reader should have at the end.

Thursday will be our second class. I'm looking forward to trying out mini meeting rooms for students to work in teams and then share what they created. I'll update you on how the technology and the teacher manage it all.