Wednesday, June 10, 2015

New MOOC- Writing for Young Readers: Opening the Treasure Chest

I'm excited to share 'Writing for Young Readers: Opening the Treasure Chest'. It's a newly minted series of international MOOCs (massive open online courses) that make free, high-quality writing instruction available to children's writers across the Commonwealth nations. This great work is an initiative of the Commonwealth Education Trust in collaboration with At Summit Educational Services/At Summit Asia Pacific Ltd. The first course is now up on the Coursera website and can be found here

Filming my interview segment at the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad.
We ended up not using the footage, but an interesting experience nevertheless.

I had fun filming my guest speaker segment for the course and enjoyed being interviewed via Skype by New Zealander children's author Maria Gill. My interview can be found under the Week 4 module; Maria and I discuss the ins and outs of editing and proofreading. I'll be moderating a forum during the course as well, so look out for my forum underneath my interview video which can be found here

MOOCs are changing educational culture and these courses will break ground in helping to diversify and support global children's literature, with particular focus on developing countries. Taught by established children’s authors from across the Commonwealth, this MOOC series is designed for aspiring authors who would like to write for children but who currently have little access to the support and expertise of established authors, editors and publishers. My hope is that lots of people in the Caribbean will sign up for this excellent professional development opportunity. 

'Writing for Young Readers: Opening the Treasure Chest' is the fruit of long work and careful planning. In the fall of 2013, while I was still living in Philadelphia, I was invited to participate in an international think tank to brainstorm the curriculum for the course. The think tank met for three days in a cozy conference room at the Hilton Inn on the University of Pennsylvania's campus, and what a stimulating three days they were. Judy Curry, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Education Trust; Alice Curry, then the Children's Literature Adivsor with the Trust (now the Founder and Director at multicultural children's book publisher Lantana Publishing), led the planning and brainstorming sessions with Uma KrishnaswamiLani Wendt YoungShelley TanakaTololwa Mollel, and myself. Finegan KruckemeyerJohn Agard and Gene Luen Yang participated in absentia. 

It was a pleasure working with these amazing children's and young adult authors, and I'm pleased to say that along with David Hill and Maria Gill, most of us are also guest speakers and/or instructors in the course. 

From left: Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach (our superb minutes-taker), Alice Curry, Tololwa Mollel, Lani Wendt Young, me, Uma Krishnaswami and Shelley Tanaka.

Seated are Alice Curry (left) and Judy Curry.

The curriculum planning workshop: Brainstorming in full swing.

Al Filreis, Faculty Director of the Kelly Writers House and an early pioneer of MOOCs in the humanities, and Julia Bloch stopped in to chat with us about the use of MOOCs to teach poetry at the University of Pennsylvania (my alma mater!).

Like all Coursera courses, 'Writing for Young Readers: Opening the Treasure Chest' is provided on-demand which means you can take your time in completing the course with all of the material available at once. The course is accessible for free and there is also the option of paying a fee to join the "Signature Track." Students on the Signature Track receive verified certificates, appropriate for employment purposes.

To sign up for the course, visit:

And please spread the word about this amazing opportunity! 

Summer Edward is a Children's Literature and Publishing Consultant. She holds an M.S.Ed. degree in Reading, Writing, Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and is the recipient of a Highlights Foundation Scholarship for promising children's writers and the School of the Free Mind's inaugural Way of the Book Honor Award given to artist-authors demonstrating long and sincere commitment to changing the world through children's books. Learn more about her here .


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