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Jul 1 / Michael Schottey

Offseason task for sportswriters: Take an online course

Second of three parts. Part 1. Part 3.

Continuing our conversation about how you should use the summer months—or whatever your sport’s offseason might be—to make yourself a better sportswriter, here’s a second idea:

Take an online course

More and more, the internet is opening avenues to professional development that go above and beyond (or completely replace) the traditional classroom method of paying thousands of dollars to pick up a few credits of continuing education. Maybe you’ve got those thousands just lying around, but making yourself better at what you do for little to no investment seems like a quality step to take.

First, let’s not completely rule out the “old ways.” It’s always worth looking into what sort of courses and programs the educational institutions around you have to offer. Being a master—literally—in your field is something to be proud of, and if it’s feasible through grants, scholarships, etc. to do so at an affordable cost to you, I’m not going to be the one to talk you out of it. Online courses make this avenue easier today than ever before.

Outside of that, however, there are still plenty of ways to continually learn.

That’s the point, right? Make yourself a life-long student. Don’t think of this as going back to high school or college and sitting groggily through classes that drone on and you’ll never really use. No, this is the next step: A class or program designed for you and meant specifically to make you better at what you’re already doing well. A student who hated the classroom before might very well find his or herself completely energized by further education.

I have made great use of Poynter’s News University. The organization fosters best practices in journalism and has numerous courses or seminars that fit your role in this industry, regardless of what that role is. Some courses are free. Others are free based on a grant from other organizations. Still others are available for various rates.

There are also plenty of no-to-moderate cost options for further education including Udemy, which offers courses in things like Photoshop, website editing, social media, etc.; and Coursera, which facilitates not-for-credit study alongside major universities—for free.

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Michael Schottey is an NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.