Mark Cooper

Online course designer

Mark Cooper

Story

I've always been a voracious reader so a career in publishing seemed like a natural fit. I started out as an editorial assistant in a cramped and somewhat chaotic office of a progressive magazine in Birmingham. During this time my passion for telling stories and crafting poetry really began to develop, so I studied for a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of St. Andrews. Through a mix of inspiration and perspiration, I learned new techniques and rhetorical skills and began developing my voice as a writer. I was driven to explore the world through language, and to keep writing, writing, writing as a way to share the adventures I'd had with friends growing up.

All those long, long hours drafting and redrafting your work has the benefit of improving your skills as an editor. An opportunity arose at Macmillan Publishers and I leapt at it. There was much to learn and a heavy workload but I loved it. We published everything from obscure business textbooks to million-copy bestsellers. I made great friends and met my wife. I also became more and more involved in digital publishing and online course development.

This was the ideal union of my passion for publishing and curiosity for computers. I had received my first computer, an Amiga 500, when I was ten, and have been using them to make things ever since. I remember trying to make a computer game by arranging letters and numbers in a text document to look like the graphics I so badly wanted to create. Now I was blogging, making music, and video editing. The creative potential, and the ability to share what you made, seemed limitless.

Now a family, after seven years at Macmillan we made the decision to move to the South West. There was the question of livelihood but we were in a fortunate enough position that we could take some time to figure things out—a little time anyway. We liked the lifestyle: the countryside, rivers, and beaches, and the weather wasn't bad either—most of the time. But there was still the question of work. Then, in the midst of applying for jobs, I was encouraged to go freelance and mentored by Jesper Nors as we developed online learning for a wide range of corporate and public sector clients.

By this point, I had been studying and practising Buddhist meditation for around five years. I'd always had an interest in philosophy and science—a curious mind in more ways than one, perhaps—but the contemplative life began to draw me closer after the death of a much-loved friend. A new opportunity arose to create online courses that share the wisdom and wellbeing of this ancient way of life, and that's what I've been doing since. My aim is to communicate ideas that help people with precision and clarity.