MSJC to Offer Free Online Writing Course

November 13, 2012
Funding for the course was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Mt. San Jacinto College will bolster students' success with a free online writing course designed to help students enter higher-level English courses, build their skills for jobs or reach higher educational goals.
The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Crafting an Effective Writer: Language Tools, will be offered in late Spring 2013 through an online delivery system that links directly to the student’s own desktop.  It was made possible by a $50,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Similar online courses have been available to advanced students via Coursera and similar platforms, but MSJC is expanding the levels with introductory concepts to help a broad range of students who may have forgotten grammar basics or simply need to brush up on writing fundamentals. The course will be ideal for college bound, under-prepared students, current high school students and community members, said Pat James, dean of MSJC's Distance Learning Program.
"We are honored to receive this grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It will allow Mt. San Jacinto College to provide a course that will save students money and help them succeed in college or at work," James said. "Of course, the class is free, so it saves money right away. But students who take the course will be able to pass assessment tests and place in higher-level English college courses. This will save them tuition dollars and accelerate their access to degree and transfer level college courses. The course will also help anyone hone their writing skills so they are better prepared for college and for their jobs."
James said she also hopes high school teachers will use the online course to help their students. In addition to providing education that better prepares students for college, it will also help increase completion rates.
MOOCs are an exciting innovation.  They hold great promise, but are not without challenges– and we are still discovering their full potential,” said Dan Greenstein, Director of Postsecondary Success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “We believe having diverse options for faculty and students that meet a wide array of learning needs and styles can enhance student engagement, improve educational outcomes, and increase college completion rates.  We are eager to learn from and share the data that will be generated from these investments in MOOCs.”
To this end, MSJC will market its program to a diverse set of students with a variety of learning needs and styles, including high schools. MSJC will track the success of the course and will share the data in order to advance teaching and learning.
MSJC English Professors Larry Barkley, Ted Blake and Lorrie Ross have collaborated with James and Jerome Billins of MSJC’s Multimedia department, and Micah Orloff of the California @ONE Professional Development project to design a course that will be offered by Coursera, a Stanford University-based MOOC delivery project.
To see a list of the grantees, click here:
For more information, contact Pat James, MSJC’s dean of Distance Learning, at 951-639-5440 or contact the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at