Editor’s note: Muhammad and Khadija Niazi are twins living in Pakistan. They are turning 13 this year and have each completed over 6 courses already. They, along with their mom, will be guest blogging to share their perspective on MOOCs for young students and families in the coming months. We’re excited to have them share their thoughts with the community!
Hello from Pakistan, Coursera community!
We are fraternal twins (Muhammad, the brother and Khadija, the sister) who are turning 13 years old, and have just been promoted to the 8th grade. We live in Pakistan with our family. As twins, we both share mostly the same interests. One similarity is that we both love MOOCs, and that love for MOOCs brought us to Coursera. We both love physics, astronomy, history and other science-related subjects.
We want to tell you all how our wonderful journey through MOOCs started. The news came in one day; we read an article about an online class which had more than 65,000 students. The course was being offered by Stanford University. We were both determined to take that course (we were both 10 at that time). So, we completed it! After that, we received an email from Udacity asking us to join. We were (once again) excited, and completed three courses. Then, through the forums, we learned about Coursera.
A few months ago, Khadija was invited to speak at Davos because she was mentioned in a Time magazine article, so we traveled there to discuss how MOOCs had changed our lives and how they have given us a new meaning of education. Over there, we met a lot of amazing individuals, including Daphne Koller (one of the founders of Coursera), Sebastian Thrun (founder of Udacity) and Thomas Friedman. It was a memorable experience.
Our Favorite Coursera Courses So Far
We chose Coursera because of the awesome variety of courses which the platform offers. Plus, the university partners, which are collaborating with Coursera, are very prestigious.
The first course that caught our attention was Duke University’s “Introduction to Astronomy” taught by Professor Ronen Plesser. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing, because that course was the first class we had ever taken about astronomy (one of Muhammad’s passions since he was a child). We never thought we would be learning with so many other students, and it was far better than reading just a book because of the amount of interaction we had in class online.
The most interesting point came when we both had a chance to do a “Google hangout” with him. We were overflowing with questions, which he calmly answered with a smile on his face.
We also enrolled in “Astrobiology” (we spent lots of hours – even a whole day, maybe – participating in discussions in the forums) and “Pre-calculus,” where we experienced our first timed exam! We were panicking because our electricity is unreliable; our Internet crashes a lot, but we were successful in taking that exam using our lovely back-up system.
We also took “How Things Work,” which had challenging homeworks, and “Understanding Einstein: The Special Theory of Relativity,” taught by Larry Randles Lagerstrom. It was a cool course, and it was totally new in every sense. We loved the quizzes in this course because it required a lot of critical thinking.
Coursera really enabled us to explore a vast range of subjects; we feel lucky to have been born in this revolutionary era where education has been taken to a different dimension. Our journey still continues, because we both are currently doing two more courses… and the list goes on, which we will never end.