By Nicholas W. Miller
Student, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Grand Canyon University now offers a Bachelor of Arts in English with an Emphasis in Professional Writing. This new program focuses mainly on the principles of rhetoric and composition while simultaneously preparing students to become practical communicators in the 21st century workplace. New professional writing majors will find that many of the first courses are writing-intensive, as expected. As students move through the program, they will notice there is a need for some practical experience with a few free online programs that will be implemented in some of the courses.
Some courses will require students to shoot and edit their own videos or podcasts. Students will also be creating at least one blog and online portfolio. Just as it is learning any new application, students need to spend time manipulating the various programs in order to improve their proficiency within the major. Below is a list of five free websites that professional writing majors need to familiarize themselves with in order to be successful.
Audacity is a free open-source digital audio editor. Although instructors are not going to expect their students to be experts with audio and video editing software, they are expected to be a level above novice. Audacity will be the program of choice by most students to record interviews and podcasts because of its simplistic soundboard set-up.
Practicing editing and scrubbing with this software long before assignments are due is highly encouraged. The more time students put into this program, the better the results they will get. Students enrolled in Multi-media Journalism in the 21st Century or Communicating Scientific Ideas to Popular Audiences will undoubtedly use this program.
Virtual Writing Tutor
Virtual Writing Tutor is a free online grammar checker. This program is fantastic for writing majors because it has the ability to check spelling, grammar, and punctuation. As many students face different challenges, time management can be an issue. The virtual writing tutor is a great second set of eyes to use for your papers before you turn in the final draft to your instructor. This program is an absolute must for all professional writing majors who struggle to schedule a peer-reviewing session with their classmates before final submissions.
Wix is a free website creator that allows its user to create a domain name, choose from hundreds of designs and is mobile-friendly. Many students enrolled in humanities and social sciences programs will be creating an online portfolio during their senior year to get ready for the workforce.
Professional writing majors will surely use this program during their capstone. It is highly suggested that students spend time in this program, manipulating the different templates. It is also highly suggested that students try and establish a domain name as soon as possible to use later on. As it is with Audacity, instructors will expect higher than a novice level of competency with this program.
Light Works is a free online video editor. Students who are taking multi-media journalism will be asked to use this program for a live news story. This program is no different than the aforementioned programs in that it takes time and practice to master. Audio programs can be frustrating for writing majors because there is a small demand that students develop some tech-savvy skills running an editing soundboard.
Video-editing adds the sense of sight to this difficulty. Students are highly encouraged to practice. Also important, this program offers a way to upload a finished video onto social media such as YouTube. As technologically savvy as students are today, there are still bugs and glitches after each update. Having said that, free is free. Download and get started.
Weebly is another fantastic program where students can present a portfolio that contains a lot of writing such as a blog. Also free, this program is much more straight-forward and easy to use than the other programs. Professional writing majors might be asked to publish a few blogs throughout their time in the major on various genres.
Although this program is easy to use, students are still encouraged to go to the website and test out the various ways they can create a portfolio or blog. Their portfolio creator has a few new options that Wix might not. Also, Weebly is probably better equipped to offer layouts that promote a lot of textual elements.
If you want to learn more about Grand Canyon University’s English program within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, check out our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.
More About Nick
Nicholas W. Miller is a senior at Grand Canyon University originally from Elk Grove Village, Illinois. He is a member of both the Alpha Chi National Honor Society as well as Sigma Tau Delta, an English Honors society at GCU. Nicholas’s dream is to combine his love for writing with his passion to help others and giving back to his community. He hopes to one day pursue a career in publishing, journalism, or advertising. When he is not writing or working, Nick enjoys playing basketball, listening to upbeat music, and spending time reading to his daughters, Adelai and Irelyn.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.