OK, Zoomer: How to get the most out of an online or virtual writing workshop — Áine Greaney

Doing what I love: Leading creative writing workshops

Hello Zoom-ers

Those who teach, learn

How to get the most out of an online writing workshop: 5 tips

  1. Prepare for your class: I recommend signing in at least 15 minutes (or more) before the posted class time. This gives you time to check your video quality, clean up your space, check your sound and your headphones. Also, keep your notebook, your pens, your head phones and your water glass ready and within reach. Being prepared makes for a much better class for you and the other participants.
  2. Interaction and engagement: In smaller workshop groups, simply raise your hand and ask a question or contribute to the on-screen discussion. Or your leader may create small-group break-out “rooms.” Or you can participate in the comments — either one-on-one or with the whole group. Be careful not to inadvertently send a one-to-one or private message to the entire group.
  3. Dedicate this learning time: Like thousands of Americans, I lost my salaried job this past spring. So amid all the worry about next steps and finding new work, I really treasured this scheduled creative time. So if you register for a virtual writers workshop, silence your other electronic devices and try not to multi-task or catch up on the day job while also learning to write.
  4. Put any techno glitches behind you: Like so many other aspects of our lives, it’s easy to let one faux pas eclipse the larger experience. You may have trouble signing in or getting connected with your class. Or your audio won’t work the first time. Once you get going, put these behind you to fully engage with your instructor and peers. The technical mishaps have happened to all of us. Just re-connect and prepare to enjoy.
  5. It’s the Internet. So how much should we really share in class? On Zoom or another internet-based teaching platforms, some of the traditional paradigms change. Is the host recording the session? What steps will your workshop leader take to moderate for mutual respect and lively but egalitarian discussions? Before you register or pay for an online writing class, ask about these issues-particularly the recording question. Make your final registration decision based on the answer(s).



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Aine Greaney

Aine Greaney

Irish author, workshop leader in Boston area. Fifth book, “Green and Other Essays” just released. More at www.ainegreaney.com