Free online course, Writing for the Web, to start Dec. 2

Writing for the Web is a free, four-week massive open online course (MOOC) offered by this blog. This free journalism course focuses on optimizing web texts for (a) easy online reading and (b) higher search engine ranking.
Update: This course concluded with 726 participants from 230 countries and regions

This course was first offered in summer 2013 with 350 participants from more than 60 countries. It is now being offered again with revisions and updates based on feedback from the summer course participants.


Course moderator:  Dr. Mu Lin
Twitter: @mututemple (Digital Journalism)
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Welcome to MulinBlog Online J-School, an ongoing initiative to build a learning community for people seeking free training in digital content skills such as web writing, audio slideshow storytelling, mobile audio/video storytelling, data visualization, digital storytelling tools and much more.


This course focuses on two web writing skills:

  • optimize texts for on-screen reading: how to make long-form web texts easy to read and comprehend.
  • optimize texts for indexing by search engines: how to select and embed keywords that will help Google find and rank your texts.

Please understand that this course is not designed to teach you how to write engaging, original contents. Instead, the curriculum is primarily designed to help you master the basic, actionable techniques in writing or rewriting texts that (a) provide an optimal reading experience for online readers and (b) have a higher likelihood of being ranked by search engines.


  • This course consists of four weekly modules. In each module, there are lectures, reading materials, group discussions, assignments, and quizzes.
  • There is no required textbook. You do not need to buy any software for this class, but you need to have access to a stable Internet connection.
  • For a satisfying learning experience for both you and your classmates, we ask that you work on the assignments and actively participate in class activities.

WEEKLY SCHEDULE                                                                   

Week 1 Web writing is different from print writing: We will explore the uniqueness of reading on a computer monitor and how this uniqueness impacts online writing.

Week 2: How to write headlines for the web: We will explore why writing web headlines differs from writing print headlines, and how to write headlines that work better on the web.

Week 3: How to write for the web audience: We will study a web-writing template and try using this template to rewrite some sample essays that can be optimized for a better online reading experience.

Week 4: How to write for the search engines: We will learn how to research for relevant keywords for your contents, and how to optimize your texts by properly embedding selected keywords. Essentially, we are learning keyword research and on-page search engine optimization (SEO), respectively.


Other free journalism online courses offered

MulinBlog Online J-School has been working to develop a library of free digital skills courses and offer them on a regular rotation schedule.

    • Pilot courses offered in summer 2013: Intro to Data Visualization, Audio Slideshow Storytelling, Writing for the Web. These courses will be re-designed based on feedback from course participants.
    • Courses to be developed: Mobile Video Storytelling, Google Interactive Maps, and Intro to Social Media Reporting.

If you cannot view the embedded syllabi below, click here to download audio slideshow syllabus, click here to download data visualization syllabus. Please note that these courses will be updated periodically to reflect the best and most up-to-date industry practices.

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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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