Distance Learning

Distance Learning offers a year-round program of web-based courses, exchanges, and events whose goal is to encourage worldwide cultural and creative exchange—the IWP’s principal mission. Distance learning courses and MOOCs bring American and international writers together in online classrooms to explore themes of common interest with accomplished creative writing instructors. Exchanges offer groups of writers and artists opportunities to collaborate on new work and to build new communities across regional and cultural distance. Live-streamed events offer international access to readings and performances. While fiction, poetry, and nonfiction workshops form the backbone of online offerings, the Distance Learning program also aims to provide opportunities for academic discussion about topics in contemporary world literature. Unless otherwise noted, course activities are conducted in English.

To join our mailing list to receive notifications regarding future courses, please fill out the sign-up form here.


In 2014, the IWP opened its first MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). These courses, funded by the University of Iowa and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, welcome all participants; no application is required and there is no charge for enrollment. In 2014, the IWP’s MOOCs gathered 15,789 readers and writers together around the world for critical discussion and creative exchange. More recently, How Writers Write Poetry 2015 (offered April-June 2015, now closed) and How Writers Write Fiction 2015 (September-November 2015, now closed) brought 19,825 new and returning participants together for collaborative study and practice. In Spring 2016, the IWP opened the #Flashwrite Teen Poetry MOOC, its first MOOC designed for teenage writers. #Flashwrite will be followed by Summoning the Dead: Whitman Writing War, which will explore Walt Whitman's writings on the American Civil War and will be taught by IWP Director and University of Iowa Professor of English Christopher Merrill and University of Iowa Roy. J Carver Professor of English Ed Folsom. Our MOOCs offer the best of the IWP’s long-standing commitment to international dialogue on the themes most fundamental to the literary life.

Outreach Courses

Each of the IWP’s outreach courses is developed in direct collaboration with an international institution to serve the creative and academic goals of its students and professors. IWP instructors lead these students in the collaborative study of literature and creative writing and facilitate online workshops of participants’ own writing. The IWP’s most recent outreach courses were developed with Bahrain, Jordan, Iraq, and Russia.

Exchanges and Events

Events offer unique opportunities for University of Iowa students, the Iowa City literary community, and students and literary communities abroad to share the experience of literary performance and discussion. Exchanges instigate the development of collaborative projects between far-flung communities of writers, creating new connections that continue to thrive long after exchange projects have concluded. In the IWP’s most recent exchange, writers and photographers of indigenous heritage in Australia and the United States came together to workshop documentary photography, fictional and nonfictional texts, and poetry under the theme of Narrative Witness.

Open-Application Courses

In 2013, the IWP began offering open-application courses, during which groups of talented individuals and experienced instructors gather in an online classroom to study the craft of creative writing. Discussions and assignments center on a series of themes or topics central to the concerns of emerging writers. Anyone interested in studying the craft of creative writing may apply. Thanks to a grant from the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, there is no cost to participants. Most recently, the IWP offered two concurrent open-application seminars in nonfiction writing.

To join our mailing list to receive notifications regarding future courses, please fill out the sign-up form here.

For questions regarding our courses, please contact us at distancelearning.iwp@gmail.com.

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