When I was going to college, online courses were not really accessible to me as a student. The channel I could go through to “try before I decide” was either the local technical college or places like the UW-Extension office, both of which you have to pay for.
One of the great debates about building a career in writing, is the question of whether or not an author, editor, or freelancer needs a formal education in the craft. I have a BA, and several of my colleagues have Master’s degrees in the field. This whole idea of “formal education” may not work for everyone (universities are not very tolerant nor kind to “genre” authors), but at the very least it’s a good idea to hone your craft and “try” things out.
Free Writing Courses through 10 Universities is a feature-length article pointing out what’s available online. The last time I checked, UW-Madison did not have something out there “for free,” but I’m planning on throwing an inquiry (or two) their way.
Of all the ones on the list, there were two that stood out to me:
I can’t stress enough how important it is to get “real-time” experience in screen or scriptwriting if you want to write TV shows, movies or video games. The short story class would be a great addition to any writer’s repertoire of resources, even if you’re interesting in game writing, because not everyone can write and contain a short story well.
There may be others as well; be sure to contact your local university and see if they have any community outreach programs.