This summer, I wanted to take an online course after enjoying taking a Global Online Academy course in the past. In May, I began researching platforms on which I could take a course. I thought about taking classes through local colleges and universities, but they required a lengthy application process and were very expensive. Eventually, I found a website called Coursera on which various colleges and universities worldwide offer free courses to international learners. I began looking through the thousands of courses on the site to find a class that sparked my interest. I eventually came upon a class called “International Women’s Health and Human Rights” offered by Stanford University and decided to take it. The instructor was a professor from Stanford named Anne Firth Murray, who has been a prominent voice in the fight for women’s health and human rights worldwide. She also co-founded the Global Fund for Women, which works to protect women’s rights worldwide. Additionally, Murray is the author of From Outrage to Courage: The Unjust and Unhealthy Situation of Women in Poorer Countries and What They are Doing About It, which was used as the primary text for the course. After doing some quick research about Murray and her course, I decided to enroll in the 10-week class alongside nearly 40,000 other students. 

The course only required six hours of work a week, and students were trusted to move through the course at their own pace. The work consisted of readings from the textbook, other articles, and reports selected by the instructor. I found the reading for this course to be extremely engaging and they taught me a lot about the topics in the class. The instructor also offered many optional resources, most of which I took advantage of. The course also included many short documentaries, recorded lectures from Murray, and interviews with human rights activists. I enjoyed the video resources that the instructor offered, as they allowed me to learn from feminists and human rights activists worldwide. These films and interviews also allowed me to visually see the plight of women internationally, inspiring my fellow learners and me to take action against discrimination towards women in our communities. 

There were also weekly assignments in this course. Additionally, there were about three mini-quizzes per week that allowed me to check my learning and ensured that I was grasping the essential concepts of the course. I enjoyed these quizzes because they allowed me to make sure that I fully understood the readings and videos from the class. We also had a longer assignment each week. These writing assignments were called “Thought Questions”, for which our instructor posed a question related to the concept of that week and asked us to write four to five thoughtful paragraphs. We were then required to review three of our peer’s assignments and grade them on a three-point rubric. I learned a lot from reviewing the work of my peers and from their comments on my own assignments. 

I knew that my experience in the course would be very different from GOA simply because of the number of students in the class and our varying ages, abilities, and expertise in this area. Due to the larger class size on Coursera, I was unable to form meaningful connections with my peers that GOA allowed me to. However, I learned a lot from my fellow learners because of our varying levels of experience and our vastly different backgrounds. These weekly thought questions allowed me to engage with my classmates and learn about international perspectives. My peers taught me a lot through our discussions about our projects. Thus, although I was unable to create close bonds with members of my Coursera class, I was able to learn a lot from my various interactions with them and reviewing their work. 

I would recommend Coursera to CA students because of its flexible work schedule, affordability, and the variety of courses it offers. I think that Coursera embodies CA’s core value of “love of learning,” as the people who use this platform are extremely passionate about the courses they take. Therefore, I believe that Coursera is a fantastic platform for students who love to learn and an amazing opportunity for CA students.