First, let's get one thing out of the way: what on earth is a MOOC?
It stands for Massive Open Online Course. These are free online classes taught by top universities (Harvard, even!). You don't get attention from the instructor, as you would in an on-campus course, but you get all the content, video lectures and the opportunity to interact with your classmates online. The courses use automated and peer to peer grading, depending on the subject. (There's a video here if you want to learn more.)
Some MOOCs have drawn more than 100,000 students! In a MOOC, you can watch Harvard lectures from your armchair. And all for free.
The two biggest MOOC providers are Coursera and EdX. While I haven't found any creative writing courses in their offerings, check out these courses on poetry and literature.
- Modern & Contemporary American Poetry from the University of Pennsylvania. Begins Sept. 6, 2014. (Coursera)
- Comic Books and Graphic Novels from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Begins Sept. 22, 2014. (Coursera)
- The Art of Poetry from Boston University. Begins September, 2014. (EdX)
EdX often archives its courses, meaning you can still access all the lectures and course materials, even though you can't fully participate and interact. These two poetry courses are in the archives:
- Poetry in America: Whitman from HarvardX
- Poetry in America: The Poetry of Early New England from HarvardX
Although Coursera doesn't archive its materials, you can sign up for an account and add courses to your watchlist so that you will be notified if they're offered again. This would be a good one to keep an eye out for:
- Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction from the University of Virginia
In a MOOC, you can go at your own pace and do only as much of the class as you want to -- you might just watch the lectures or you might try to complete every assignment. Strictly up to you. Try a MOOC on for size and let us know what you think of it.