News / Engaged learning in COVID-19 times

Writing NSW senior program officer Ashley Kalagian Blunt reflects on the process of providing quality courses to writers during the pandemic.

The pandemic has been difficult for everyone in varied and uneven ways. In addition to virus fears, I had speaking events and festival invitations cancelled, along with trips and celebrations. But I’ve also found the sudden upheaval of daily life has brought a few benefits as well.

One unexpected benefit has been the rapid development of Writing NSW’s online course program. Before I began as program officer in 2015, I spent four years teaching online, using a variety of clunky websites and experimenting with different methods for lesson delivery.

When we introduced Writing NSW’s online courses in 2016, we kept things simple, running our online feedback courses via email. These courses have no lesson content; instead, they provide writers with monthly feedback from both the tutor and peers. The email-based courses were popular and well received. But they were intensive for us to run, which limited how many we could offer.

Everything changed when we discovered Wet Ink. A website specifically designed for writing courses, Wet Ink enabled us to run more online feedback courses and also introduce lesson-based online courses, which offer an equivalent learning experience to our in-person workshops. Since we began using Wet Ink in 2018, we’ve continually increased the number of online courses we’re able to offer writers across NSW and throughout Australia.

Teacher on screen in front of bookcase

Participant feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Writers appreciate the website’s clean design and easy-to-learn format. Because Wet Ink was created for writers, it’s especially simple to submit your work, and write and receive feedback from fellow writers. When a course ends, participants receive an archive of their submitted writing and feedback.

One reason we love running courses on Wet Ink is there are no live meetings – no Zoom, no Skype, no sitting slack in front of the screen while someone talks at you hour after hour. Learning happens when we’re engaged, so we’ve designed our courses around reading and writing, with the occasional short video. This also makes the courses completely flexible, so you can fit them in wherever best suits you – and do your writing when you feel your best.

In January 2020 (approximately 27 months ago), we had a plan to continue gradually increasing the number and type of online courses we offer. At that time, we had run a total of three instructional courses on Wet Ink, in addition to several online feedback courses. We’d also launched our first on-demand course, a self-paced learning opportunity that’s instantly available.

Since February, we’ve run four instructional courses on Wet Ink, plus seven online feedback courses. And we’re offering many more in upcoming months, including Online: Poetry with Pip Smith, Online: Writing YA with Wai Chim, and a new course, Online Feedback: Manuscript Development with Linda Funnell. We’ve also launched our second on-demand course, and are soon to release two more.

Covid-19 has forced us to adapt quickly, but we continue to be excited to bring you engaging learning opportunities, both online and (hopefully again soon) in person.  


To find a Writing NSW course that suits your writing journey, head to our course page here>>

More from Writing NSW

Check out our full range of in-person writing courses in Sydney, our online writing courses and our feedback programs to see how we can help you on your writing journey. Find out about our grants and prizes, as well as writing groups across NSW, and sign up to our weekly newsletter for writing events, opportunities and giveaways.

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