Every now and again you come across something on the web that makes you think;
“WHY THE BLOODY HELL DO I HEAR ABOUT IT THREE DIFFERENT WAYS EVERY TIME ANY OF THE KARDASHIANS SNEEZES BUT I’M ONLY JUST HEARING ABOUT THIS!?”
Well, this was one of those moments. Y’see it won’t have escaped anyone’s notice that ‘knowledge is power’ is not just a cute quote that is vaguely connected to ol’ Franny Bacon, but is also an inescapable fact. Knowing more stuff than a given person will give you an advantage, personally, creatively, professionally. But we’re always hearing about cuts in education budgets and rising tuition fees and even for those of us in a position to commit to full time education its still a massive risk. I, for example, could regale you at length about Baudrillard‘s distinctly dim views about Disneyland but, and this is the clincher, no-one has ever expressed even the slightest inclination that they might want me to do that. The point I’m dancing around is that long-form vocational education is being made more and more impractical. So what’s the answer?
Well, at least part of it is provided by FutureLearn. This is an astonishing online service providing free, that’s free, short courses, most of the ones I’ve seen ask for around 16-20 hours of your time over four weeks, and you can do anything on there. I’ve signed up for two digital marketing courses that are starting in a few weeks and in the attached forum areas, one 40 year old mother of two has spent her summer learning Spanish and Forensic Psychology. For free. I really can’t say that bit enough. A few of the courses also offer official accreditation and certification to allow you to throw some paperwork around if the situation calls for it. This site is, I really and truly cannot stress enough, free of charge.
Elsewhere and a bit closer to home for the writers among us there are a few more sites that I’ve turned up that are more that a little bit useful.
-First up Aerogramme Writer’s Studio, a site dedicated to promoting news, writing tips and resources of all shapes and sizes, including fairly regular round-ups of magazines, journals and sites that are accepting submissions. If you’re looking to get your name around and gain a bit of exposure, make this one of your first ports of call!
–Christopher Fielden, along the same lines, with a more personal touch, I have to admit to knowing very little about the man himself and have only used his site sparingly, but there has been a wealth of relevant information, his short story submission database in particular is a really breathtaking piece of work. I can only imagine the hours he may have put into something that complete. More power to him.
–The Manchester Review, this, and the name may be a slight giveaway here, is a literary journal currently accepting submissions both fiction and non-fiction. The main thing to be said about it is that is very, very cool and in that respect getting your name seen by this crowd and furthermore their subscribers and followers will do you absolutely no harm.
Educate yourself citizens, it’s jungle out there.