Free Online-Education Introduces Science Fiction and Fantasy Classics

 This is an essay by Deanna Zachrich.

Coursera is an educational technology company that works with universities to make some of their courses available online. They currently work with sixty-two universities across four continents offering courses in engineering, humanities, medicine, biology, business, mathematics, literature, and many other areas. It’s a great way to engage your brain without spending a small fortune on tuition because every course offered is absolutely free.

I recently participated in a literature course that changed my perception on science fiction – a genre that I steered away from in the past. Yep, I was a science fiction snob. But I’m happy to report my opinions on the genre have changed due to the inspiring lectures of Professor Rabkin from the University of Michigan and insightful peer reviews from hundreds of other students.

Throughout the course, “Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World,” I read books that I would never have read otherwise. I gained many new insights on Grimm’s fairy tales, Poe’s  poetry and short stories, Shelly’s Frankenstein, Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, and several others.

Professor Rabkin’s video lectures not only explained each narrative’s story structure, he discussed characters, plot details, and even the writer’s style. As the class moved on to the next book, he compared previous stories to the current study. It was a great way to expand my knowledge in the science fiction and fantasy genres. I learned how to analyze texts which had been difficult for me in the past.

A great motivation for me during this course was the Tuesday deadline for my story thesis. The pressure of finishing a book and writing a short insightful surmise in a week has improved my organization of time for reading and writing.

The peer reviews were good experiences because they showed the diversity of expectations in so many different people. The reviews and comments from other students from around the globe enriched my experience by picking out specific pieces of my thesis that were right on target as well as areas that needed better explanation. The reviews opened my eyes to how differently we all learn.

This course has been an excellent introduction for me into the world of studying literature. I’ve learned to read everything with more concentration for better understanding. My confidence as a writer has blossomed now that I know I can digest and comprehend an entire novel in a week’s time.

I’ve always felt that I should try to learn something new every day. Thanks to Coursera anyone can expand their knowledge on topics that interest them. I’m looking forward to participating in many more courses.


Deanna Zachrich is happily married, enjoys being the educational coach to her e-schooled daughter, and absolutely loves to write. She writes to express her passions for keeping this planet healthy and has contributed to online magazines and blogs. Deanna reads a lot, likes to dig in the dirt among her various gardens, and believes that teaching our children about green-responsibility should begin in kindergarten, if not sooner.

Photo: Some rights reserved by Wonderlane


  1. Chris(ty)

    This sounds like an interesting way to learn new things. Thanks for sharing, Deanna. I used to read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and have kind of gotten away from it. Perhaps it’s time for a revisit.

    1. deannazachrich

      So glad you liked the article, Christy. Before this course, I had never read science fiction. The genre really opened up my mind to new possibilities – in life and writing.

  2. Anjali

    Online learning seems to be the way of the future. And what a convenient way — you learn at your time and pace, from the comfort of your home.

    1. deannazachrich

      There are many options for online learning out there. Coursera was a good fit for me because there was no cost and so many different subjects to choose from. There is definitely something for everyone.

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