‘Adventures in Writing:’ Stanfords’ Invaluable Non-Credit Course

stanford-ovalFor many people, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which people – teenagers, nonetheless – would be jumping at the opportunity to take a college-level writing course that offers no college credits, even if that course was being offered by Stanford. But, remarkably, the university’s online branch, Stanford Online, has managed to do it – to offer a non-credit online course and make it sound appealing. Adventurous, even.

‘Adventures in Writing’ is Stanford Online’s latest course offering, which is currently trying to snowball a roster of students aged 16 to 20 (both high school and college students are welcome). To do this, they knew they’d have to take an innovative approach, and thus, they’ve framed the class to be more like a graphic novel. It’s illustrated, features characters named Maya and Chris, and takes its students on a journey that lasts only six to eight hours. Five student illustrators and two colorists collaborated to turn each learning module – five in total – into a chapter of a graphic novel that’s alarmingly well-rounded in the topics it covers.

The modules are as follows, respectively:

• Introduction to Academic Language
• Purpose, Audience, and Context: Language as Communication
• Identifying Passive and Active Voice
• Punctuation: Signposts to Guide Readers
• Argument: Making Supporting Claims

Writing – whether purposefully, technically, or argumentatively – is an invaluable skill not just in the college landscape, but in many career paths as well. Thus, the main characters of the course/novel hybrid, Maya and Chris, demonstrate the learning process of effective communication and encourage students to engage in a way that’s never been seen before. If all goes as planned, this supplemental knowledge will serve as the foundation that students will build their academic and working futures on – a skill that’s.

The students aren’t the only ones benefitting from the course. “It was a great learning experience for us as writing instructors [as well[, because we were learning to be more creative as authors – and to think in those different modes ourselves,” says one of the course’s founders.

While the aim is to arm students with the ability to communicate in a manner that’s persuasive and cohesive, the course covers a wide range of other disciplines, including computer science; feminist, gender, and sexuality studies; symbolic systems; mechanical engineering; and arts. Though many students of the targeted age range are looking for courses to fill out their requirements, everything the class has to offer – combined with its brevity – more than compensates.