Arkadia's picture
Arkadia from Australia is reading Selected Poems by W.H. Auden December 17, 2011 - 7:04pm

I'm just wondering if anyone has any info they can give me about what happens between signing up for a class and the class beginning. I signed up for Stephen Graham Jones's class last week, and it starts the day after tomorrow. I figured I would get some kind of information (no clue what) before the class started - I have no idea how this thang is going to be 'run'. Do we meet up at specific times on Skype or something? I live in Australia so time differences are a concern. Anyway, I assumed I'd have the whole deal figured out by the time the class started but I still have no idea what happens the day it begins.

So now I'm wondering if somehow I'm not on the 'roster list' and am not getting information I'm supposed to be getting - I don't have any classes listed under 'Active Classes' (which I figure is probably normal since the class isn't active). Anyway, I'd appreciate it if someone would alleviate my paranoia and let me know if it's normal not to have any info on the class or be listed in a class til the day it starts, or if someone can let me know I suck so bad that the system decided it didn't want me all up in hurr.

Thanks <3

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water December 17, 2011 - 7:12pm

I've taken two classes here:  Art of the Short Story and 200 Proof.  I'm also taking the Stephen Graham Jones class, so hi.  Usually, we don't get anything before the class.  On the day of the class, you'll get an e-mail that tells you how to log into the class forum and you'll go from there.  There's no Skype or anything like that.  You do it at your convenience.  SGJ will post a lecture and we'll discuss it online forum-style.  Also, usually there's a conference call they'll set up (and record if you're not able to make it).  I know that SGJ did talk about doing some sort of video conferencing, so that might be different....  That's just my experience with the classes.

Cliff Notes:

- Usually the class opens on the day it's supposed to and that's when you'll get your info.

- I'm also in the class and haven't received anything so don't sweat it.  You'll get it when the class opens.

- Classes are done forum style with one scheduled conference call that's recorded.

_'s picture
_ December 17, 2011 - 7:20pm

Hey Arkadia,

I think you'll be fine. I've taken two classes here and nothing really happens until the day it begins. I think you should see your class under the "My Classes" tab, but it should say something like "This class has not yet begun".

If nothing happens the day the class starts, then I would contact Admin. They've been very responsive with technical issues in my experience.

My classes did not have Skype access, but I think I read maybe Jones is using Vimeo, which I'm curious how he will do - maybe he will record himself critiquing and post them so that you may check them out on your own time? Not sure. I think these things are up to the individual instructor. I think the classes are based on the instructor's time zone, so yeah, you will have time zone differences. Most of the class projects for my classes were not in real time, they were a series of boards like the one we are using right now, some discussions and others you can upload your work to. At the end of each class I spoke to the instructor, but I live in the US so it was easy.

Hope that helps.

 

Arkadia's picture
Arkadia from Australia is reading Selected Poems by W.H. Auden December 17, 2011 - 8:00pm

Perrrfect, exactly what I needed to know. Thanks a ton, guys! Blood pressure levels are going back down.

And the whole forum-style thing makes sense - this stuff was a lot more complicated in my head.

Thanksss again (and see ya in the class, Doyle) :)

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 18, 2011 - 8:39am

Thanks for posting this--one of the reasons I have been hesitant about signing up for classes is that I have never done an online class of any kind, and was confused about how it would work. I was considering posting a very similar question.

Arkadia's picture
Arkadia from Australia is reading Selected Poems by W.H. Auden December 20, 2011 - 4:34am

You are ab-suh-lutely welcome :)

I was in the same boat - never taken an online class (or writing class of any kind, in fact) and had no idea what to expect. I think that LitReactor needs to look into posting a more transparent outline of what classes will entail (re: lesson structures, student-teacher interaction, communication mediums, expected homework requirements, etc). I realize that the classes themselves are relatively unstructured (or at least that's my impression so far--not that that's a bad thing) and that there might not be a specific course outline or timeframe, but to at least tell potential students that 'Lectures will be conducted online through written essays and forum posts. Homework is expected to be a maximum of five pages per week. etc.' would be very helpful.

I wouldn't have even thought to sign up for a class based on the current class descriptions if it hadn't been for Stephen Graham Jones's named pasted in big letters on the announcement. Very, very few 'teachers' would have the same effect on me so I think the lessons need to be described in a little more detail to draw in people who wouldn't otherwise be interested.

Or maybe they're selling out all their classes anyway and it's not a big deal. That's cool too :P

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun December 20, 2011 - 6:40am

Arkadia, thanks for the feedback. We are always trying to come up with was to make the process better. You have some good suggestions that we will take into consideration.

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water December 20, 2011 - 6:56am

I also put in my vote a more transparent process.  I think at least a rough syllabus should be posted so that students aren't disappointed if the class doesn't cover what they had hoped it would cover.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 20, 2011 - 9:51am

I third that. Although the courses may very well be reasonably priced, it's hard for me, personally, to justify spending the money without a real idea of what I am getting into.

.'s picture
. December 20, 2011 - 11:59am

Yes I have to jump on that boat as well. 

What about a list of up-coming classes? With say a schedule of up to the next 6 months at a time. This way people can see the class they want to take and save up money for it or can decide which class they would rather take if they can't afford to take two classes at once.

Hetch Litman's picture
Hetch Litman from Ojai, Ca. is reading Wise Blood by Flannery OConnor December 20, 2011 - 1:20pm

I wonder, does the managment here have dates for the next 200 proof? I think it just ended, yeah? That is the one I am dying to take.

 

That is my thing I'd like to see changed. We should be able to see classes that are in progress as well as classes coming up and classes we are in and all classes should have a full writeup about what is in it. So that next time that class comes around we can be ready. that is all

.'s picture
. December 20, 2011 - 1:57pm

Craig is doing the 200 Proof class again in the Spring.

Hetch Litman's picture
Hetch Litman from Ojai, Ca. is reading Wise Blood by Flannery OConnor December 20, 2011 - 2:52pm

Yes!

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. December 20, 2011 - 3:06pm

So like april or may?

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts December 20, 2011 - 8:12pm

The classes tell you pretty much everything you need to know if you click on that Find Out More button, maybe that's the problem. Click that. They specifically say it's all online, too. How would it not be? Other than like actual tangible hand holding, I don't know how much more they could give us.

Anyway we're paying for the writer, right? Because it's them showing you their tricks and you want those tricks to be your tricks? It's probably safe to keep taking classes by writers you like, you won't be disappointed that way.

I don't know how feasible that calender would be, depending on how and when the instructors' own schedules affect when the classes are made concrete, it would be nice to have though.

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water December 20, 2011 - 8:23pm

Renfield -

The classes don't actually give you a rough syllabus.  They give you a general idea of the class geared towards making you purchase, but they don't really give the specifics of what's going to be covered.  And no, not everyone is paying for "the writer."  Some might very well be paying for what's going to be covered.  For instance, one person might not really want help with dialogue.  In that case, they shouldn't take 200 proof, because that's the majority of what the class covers. 

It's also incorrect, I think, to say that you should "keep to taking classes with writers you like, you won't be disappointed that way."  I haven't read Mark Vanderpool's writing, but his class was, by far, the best class I've taken on this site or anywhere else.  If you really like Craig Clevenger, but don't really want to learn about dialogue, then you'll probably be disappointed in 200 Proof.

I'm saying there needs to be a rough syllabus that explains what the focus of the class is actually going to be and how the class will be structured.  Not a sales pitch, but a rough outline of the class.  That seems fair.

Hetch Litman's picture
Hetch Litman from Ojai, Ca. is reading Wise Blood by Flannery OConnor December 20, 2011 - 8:26pm

@ PopeyeDoyle: So 200 proof is mostly about dialogue? An overwelming amount?

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water December 20, 2011 - 8:27pm

2 weeks are devoted exclusively to dialogue, another week is related to dialogue.  The fourth week is about editing.

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. December 20, 2011 - 8:41pm

Does Clevenger actually write a detailed review of your piece though?  Do you feel you have something publishable by classes end?

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun December 20, 2011 - 8:46pm

A few quick notes on things that have been raised:

  1. We're working on getting the schedule out sooner. However, a lot of writerly types have a difficult time planning 6 months in advance due to the crazy schedules they keep - it is unlikely that our schedule will ever be that far out.
  2. I know Craig is interested in being around again in the "spring". That is as specific as I think we can be right now (see point 1).
  3. We're going to take the suggestions about a syllabus into consideration.
  4. I'm working on getting some stuff together that will give students a better idea of how classes function, so look for that shortly after the New Year.
PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water December 20, 2011 - 8:50pm

Kirk - Just to clarify - I'm definitely not saying you need to provide a complete syllabus.  I understand the need to keep some of the stuff for the paying customers.  But, I think it would be helpful just to have an up-front understanding of how the class is going to be structured (how much time is devoted to what particular subject, etc).  Some people are buying the time "for the writer."  But others, including me, really do want to know what specifically is going to be the focus of the class.  Thanks!

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts December 20, 2011 - 9:25pm


The classes don't actually give you a rough syllabus.  They give you a general idea of the class geared towards making you purchase, but they don't really give the specifics of what's going to be covered.  And no, not everyone is paying for "the writer."  Some might very well be paying for what's going to be covered.  For instance, one person might not really want help with dialogue.  In that case, they shouldn't take 200 proof, because that's the majority of what the class covers.

 

I can understand the frustration at that, you make very valid points all round. I think, though, that the write ups genuinely pitch you everything they try to cover in a clear manner, it's a sale pitch but it's not like they're duping you. Clevenger's lectures and goals where listed in the write up and that's what it was. Mark's classes always have great write ups too and his are designed to cover very specific goals for the class. I just don't really see how they could give more. That's just me, though.

I don't think you could be disappointed with Clevenger though, no. No!

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water December 20, 2011 - 9:40pm

I can understand the frustration at that, you make very valid points all round. I think, though, that the write ups genuinely pitch you everything they try to cover in a clear manner, it's a sale pitch but it's not like they're duping you.

I definitely don't want to give the impression that I felt duped with the Clevenger intensive.  I did not at all.  Rather, I'm arguing that there needs to be a little more information out there so that we know where the focus of the class - beyond general ideas that are going to be covered, and a bit more in-depth as to the weight of each issue.  Clevenger did provide the topics that were going to be covered, but there was no indication that the class would be so dialogue-heavy. 

I do feel like the SGJ Intensive should have been advertised better, and I'd say my critique here is more a result of that than of the Clevenger Intensive. 

I don't think you could be disappointed with Clevenger though, no. No!

Meh - I thought it was all right.  Mark's class was definitely better, in my opinion.  But, that's all subjective, I guess.

Raelyn's picture
Raelyn from California is reading The Liars' Club December 20, 2011 - 9:41pm

I agree that Mark's class was better, as well as much cheaper. 

Hetch Litman's picture
Hetch Litman from Ojai, Ca. is reading Wise Blood by Flannery OConnor December 20, 2011 - 9:57pm

Man, you guys are really bumming me out on the whole Clevenger class. then again I'm in The Art of the Short  Story right now and I love it. Mark is a hell of a teacher.

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water December 20, 2011 - 10:03pm

Hetch - Don't get the wrong idea.  Understand that it's subjective to some degree and there's probably a lot of people who loved the Clevenger Intensive.  Personally, I think Art of the Short Story kind of spoils you because it's such an awesome class that other classes don't really compare.  I'm hoping that LitReactor has like a genre course or something (like a class focusing on horror).  I think Art of the Short Story really covers what you should know about short fiction.  Beyond that, it might be best just to focus on the specific genre you want to focus on.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts December 20, 2011 - 10:37pm

Man, you guys are really bumming me out on the whole Clevenger class. then again I'm in The Art of the Short  Story right now and I love it. Mark is a hell of a teacher.

 

Don't be bummed. Even if the stuff in Clevenger's class is stuff you already do, it's a lot of really goddamned good insight into it. There's stuff where you work with dialogue, but it's not about dialogue, it' conflict, sustaining scenes to be able to carry novels. I made the misstep at first of trying to learn everything like it was new and taking it assignment by assignment, when it's really taking the level of writing you've worked up to all ready and improving it within that framework. It really works like that. But it's really the guy that wrote great books having his eyes on your work, picking it apart and saying "do better" or "this is good stuff."

Mark's picture
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Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water December 20, 2011 - 11:31pm

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your thoughts and concerns about our classes.  Although I know Arkadia's class with Stephen Graham Jones has now begun, and she's experiencing the basics of our delivery format firsthand, fears abated, there are a few basic points I'd like anyone who's never taken one of our classes to understand:

1.  Most of the class interaction takes place in a written format.  It's not all that different from the threaded conversation taking place right here, except the virtual classroom space is private to the registered participants and we have neat, convenient groupings under five or so major tabs that organize the whole thing into common-sensical sections: Lectures, Assignments, Discussions, etc.  It's a robust set-up that makes perfect sense within five minutes of exploring it.

2.  It's also easy to monitor latest class activity on the main dashboard page for your class, relative to what's just been posted by instructor or peers.  Regardless of which major tab some new information, lecture, informal talk, or story submission falls under logically, you can see what's happening "right now" or what's been happening most recently in your class in one convenient place.

3.  I've asked Kirk to please help me step up our date on giving you a sort of visual walkthrough or demonstration of the things I've just described, maybe using screen capture images in a meaningful sequence.

4. We support or augment the written delivery format with a bit of conference calling when we can.  Stephen Graham Jones is a bit phone shy, but he's actually hard at work on doing supplemental video content for his current class, instead.  We're sensitive to some people feeling more supported with call-in options or learning better if things are reinforced with auditory and/or visual learning components.  We're open and experimental, flexible, pluralistic and incorporative.  New and undreamed of "nice extras" could be on the horizon for future LitReactor classes.  But the core of our writing classes will probably continue to be written interactions somewhat in the style of a private discussion forum.  Here are some reasons:

  • It's a writing class.  Unlike a class in sculpture or the fundamentals of hang-gliding, you can learn a great deal about writing in the process of reading and writing.   When over 90% of your class interaction takes place in a written format and medium, you're called upon to practice the very things you're learning perhaps more extensively than you even realize.
  • So much of the "talk" in a traditional writing class evaporates into thin air, that I'd stack the learning benefits of the way we do this against the 19th century model any day of the week.
  • Whether you're revisiting your favorite lecture or re-reading a peer critique of your story submission or logging in at any odd hour to review something from someone else... our learning format generates and provides a written record.  There's always a bit of something new to catch up on when you haven't logged in since yesterday.
  • Our learners emerge from every conceivable time zone on the globe, and are generally working adults with a slew of responsibilities, so it only makes sense not to over-rely on phone talk, IM chats, or any other attempt to replicate "real time" interaction.
  • Making an hour or so each day whenever it suits your own schedule works great for our classes.  You quickly get a sense of continuous 24/7 interaction and presence and responsiveness--a class that never sleeps but allows you to sleep when you need to, without penalty or any sense of missed days.
  • To bring out perhaps an obvious point:  the writing assignments in our classes have deadlines, but if your best time to post things and interact is 2:00 AM, you can bloody well do so.  Chances are, a classmate or two from another country will be on at the same moment as you, maybe having morning tea because for them, it's 9:00 AM the next day.  The time melting involved works incredibly well for most everyone.
     

5.  It's unlikely you'll see the copy pages promoting our classes taken over with really academic-looking and exhaustive syllabi, because we are not an academic institution and because an extremely left-hemsiphere approach doesn't sell even an intellectual and artistic product to 98% of people.  Copy pages, to some extent, have to talk about benefits instead of features.  And need to be relatively succinct and even emotionally compelling, for the majority of readers, instead of formal and exhaustive and dry.  Sorry if you find that too salesy, but it's a reality of life and business in an essentially free market setting.  That said, we want you to know what you're getting and we never set out to deceive or misrepresent what we're offering.  Where I can make refinements that proceed toward your clear understanding without course descriptions growing voluminous or pedantic, I'll do so.  But I'm also going to stay open to fast and flexible course developments with instructors I have personal reasons to trust.

6.  I'll have more info on upcoming course dates very soon.  We're working incredibly hard to get and keep a calendar that's built out in ink at least three full months in advance--but as Kirk noted earlier, it's unlikely to ever become a six month lead time, because some of the instructors we most enjoy and value have to negotiate their start dates under pressure of numerous competing obligations.  We try to stay nimble with them.

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Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 21, 2011 - 4:41am

Mark--thank you so much for that. As someone who has never done any formal "online learning" that lays it out all very well for me.

 

To LitReactor as a whole--one major question: In October there were several classes being advertised--I know that scheduling is hairy, but can we "count on" there being several classes in a year? I've asked for a cash-at-will "coupon" for a class for Christmas, but I really want to wait until I know I can focus on the course and give it my all, so I worry about signing up for the first one that pops up after I've gotten my "coupon".

Arkadia's picture
Arkadia from Australia is reading Selected Poems by W.H. Auden December 21, 2011 - 6:11am

Wow, wasn't expecting this kind of discussion. Any kind of discussion is good discussion, though. Cool.

So good to see LitReactor so open to suggestions. Had I known you'd be listening I'd have put a little more thought into mine. But everything's been mostly covered now! And thanks Kirk, for the updates.

Mark, you covered in your post pretty much everything I'd be interested in knowing at the time of purchase. I think the format of the classes is great, perfect for me in particular because I live in Australia and there are crazy timezone differences. Some kind of visual walkthrough of the class would be wonderful, definitely helpful for potential customers. I know it would sell me, anyway.

Anyway, the SGJ class is awesome so far. Glad I jumped in!

 

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water December 21, 2011 - 6:32am

Mark - I want to reiterate, just for the sake of clarity, that I do not wish the copy pages to be taken over by "academic-looking and exhaustive syllabi."  I just want people made aware of what they're getting into so that people aren't dropping $400 on something that might not suit them.

This is mostly related to how the SGJ Intensive was advertised.  The advertisement for the SGJ class listed a set of topics that would be covered.  It turns out that the class may or may not cover those; it just depends on what SGJ wants to cover.  That's fine to run the class that way, but I think that students should be made aware of that before they spend their money. 

I've never read anything by SGJ.  I got the class because I wanted to cover certain topics that the copy page said were going to be covered.  I think it's fair to give students a heads-up before-hand by saying, "There aren't any set topics in this class.  SGJ will look at everyone's work and determine what he wants to cover based on that."  There are a ton of people who would jump at the chance for that sort of semi-individualized learning experience.  But others might want more structure.  I'm just saying that that issue should be laid out from the beginning.  Just a rough outline of the class - not an exhaustive syllabi.

I think everyone who's worked with the people at LitReactor can say - The customer service is top-notch.  I think that a rough outline (not an exhaustive syllabi) is a good way to continue to make your customers happy.

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Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water December 21, 2011 - 10:50am

This is mostly related to how the SGJ Intensive was advertised.  The advertisement for the SGJ class listed a set of topics that would be covered.  It turns out that the class may or may not cover those; it just depends on what SGJ wants to cover.  That's fine to run the class that way, but I think that students should be made aware of that before they spend their money.

I appreciate your point of view.  And we've settled this together as a point of business.  

But here's the thing:  I have total confidence SGJ will cover everything listed in the set of topics suggestd by the promotioal page.  It just isn't his style to throw down a syllabus on day one where you read that "hook lines that hook" will be covered extensively in lecture one and  "endings that don't suck" will get the same treatment in lecture three, which goes live on x date.

He doesn't operate that way.  He prefers to read and diagnose student work and flexibly adapt his teaching methods as he goes along day to day.  And it's something that works for him.  It works in the university based classes he leads and he's been teaching in highly credentialed programs for a decade.

The irony is that any particular juicy topic in the copy you were eager for--he'll probably teach and illuminate that topic eight or nine different times as the course unfolds.  It'll pop up not only in his lectures but in his critiques of student work and in his responses to casual discussion questions.

I trust him to make good on every claim from the copy in his own style and his own way and likely multiple times.  I trust his creativity and inventiveness, as I've worked with him before.  And I'm never going to micro-manage his teaching style or wave a 'rough outline' at his face to remind him of obligations.    Because that's what you're asking for, ultimately--even if it's just a 'rough outline' and doesn't have to be exhaustive--you're asking for essentially an enforceable contract of services that you can hold in one hand to weigh everything an instructor says and does against a strict delivery format and timeline expectations for goods receivable.  

That's probably the right way to pursue matters in a highly corporate environment with a tangible and/or technological set of outcomes--when, say, some big company's subcontractor is setting up six new computer terminals in your office plus a local area network between them and a new laser jet printer and it's all supposed to happen by midday Friday for less than $10,000.  Yes, you'd better have all that in writing and you'd better make them stick to it.  It isn't smart, within that context, to proceed without an explicit and enforceable agreement.  But this is a radically different context and we have a different and more flexible approach in how we pursue course design at LitReactor.  We make certain allowances.  Especially with an instructor who's got a Ph.D. in the field he's teaching and numerous published books that are proof of what he knows.  

Besides the clout, he's someone we've had great rapport and done other successful things with for six or seven years.  In a case like this, we're going to trust him to come through for everybody just fine and we're going to give him the space to do so according to his own style, sensibilites, and evolving agenda. Now and in the future.  

Creative professionals (or perhaps, more accurately, professional creatives) often need a bit of leeway to find their own path to the deliverables.  You don't give them that leeway and they feel choked and oppressed by the corporate or military style atmosphere you're setting up.  You do grant that leeway and trust, and you get everything that was on the receivables list plus several unadvertised bonuses.  That's usually the way it works out.  The very subject Stephen's known for and teaching is bound up in the (seemingly super-) human capacity to be amazingly inventive on the spot.

PopeyeDoyle's picture
PopeyeDoyle from Rio Grande Valley, TX is reading Chronology of Water December 21, 2011 - 11:19am

Mark - I agree with what you've said (at least to some degree and in theory).  My point is only that it should be made clear up-front how that's going to be done. 

Hopefully, all of the topics will "pop up eight or nine different times as the course unfolds."  But, people shouldn't be paying a fairly large amount of money for a class with only the hope that the issues advertised will be the issues covered.  The advertisements should simply reflect the open nature of the course.  If anything, that's a selling point for a lot of people (SGJ will review your work and will personally tailor assignments to your needs!). 

But sorry - it's just the attorney in me that thinks that there really should be a meeting of the minds when it comes to paying money for a service.  Take it under consideration and do what you will with it.  I'm not personally unhappy with the SGJ class because I trusted LitReactor to handle it correctly, and you did.  I worry more about the people who aren't very assertive about these things and may wind up paying a good deal of money for something that they weren't looking for.

dalis_lips's picture
dalis_lips from no place in particular is reading *health psychology* December 21, 2011 - 11:26am

Thanks, Popeye :)

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Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig December 21, 2011 - 12:16pm

This has been really informative, and I just wanted to thank Mark for putting so much time into his explanations.

.'s picture
. December 22, 2011 - 9:59am

Yes, Mark's answers are like short essays. 

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Mark from Lexington, Kentucky is reading The Chronology of Water December 23, 2011 - 1:55am

Mark--thank you so much for that. As someone who has never done any formal "online learning" that lays it out all very well for me.

Sure thing.  You're quite welcome.

To LitReactor as a whole--one major question: In October there were several classes being advertised--I know that scheduling is hairy, but can we "count on" there being several classes in a year? I've asked for a cash-at-will "coupon" for a class for Christmas, but I really want to wait until I know I can focus on the course and give it my all, so I worry about signing up for the first one that pops up after I've gotten my "coupon".

Sorry, I didn't see that question the first time through.  Maybe you were still editing the second part.

The quick answer is "yes."  You can count on several classes every year.  

In October, when the site launched, there were three different classes on offer with October start dates.  Each with a different instructor and a different focus.  Those classes you saw didn't disappear, they just got underway; the banner promoting each one gets dropped from front page rotation the day after the class begins.  And there might *temporarily* be only one or two upcoming classes that we're actively promoting.  More are certainly in the works.

That's still our basic plan for the upcoming year: three classes get launched per month.  Some meaningful repetitions will be in there.  Not 36 unique classes in a year, in other words, but probably 12 to 15.  Some of the most popular classes will ultimately get offered as frequently as once per quarter (four times per year) but that depends as much upon the availability of the instructor as the public sentiment or ongoing demand.  Some classes, however great, will only happen once ever or will only happen about once or twice per year because for one reason or another, that's all the instructor can commit to.  The positive side to that is anything that doesn't stick as a repeat offering makes a space for something new we'll test out.