On Monday, September 28th, Northwestern University will launch “Introduction to Reproduction,” a free online class to teach students about reproductive health. Dr. Teresa Woodruff, Vice Chair for Research in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University, created this course in a partnership with Northwestern University’s Provost’s Office, NUIT, and Coursera to deliver the message of reproductive health to a global audience. This is not the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Northwestern University has produced through Coursera. Northwestern University’s Provost Daniel Linzer stated, “The University’s primary goal in working on the development of MOOCs is to give Northwestern faculty opportunities to experiment with new teaching tools, to reach a new and broader audience and to have an impact that extends beyond campus.”

Because of the often-taboo topics surrounding sexual and reproductive health, there is a lack of easily accessible, academically founded information in this area, yet there is no lack of curiosity about personal and familial needs related to reproductive health. The current lack of standard sex education in this country’s schooling system has contributed to some troubling facts—by the age of 25, 1 in 2 sexually active people will have contracted an STI, and nearly half of the 20 million new STDs diagnosed each year are among young people aged 15-24 years. Dr. Woodruff saw this as an informational gap that can have dire consequences on young people’s health. Dr. Woodruff stated, “I am delighted to work with NUIT in order to bring this new curriculum to as many people as possible,” hoping to surpass the average Coursera class enrollment of over 40,000 students.

Dr. Woodruff’s specialty in obstetrics and gynecology, coupled with her dedication to improving the accessibility of health information to the masses (see her videos on improving reproductive health options for cancer survivors), makes her the authoritative voice needed in this arena. Harlan Wallach, Associate Director of Media and Design at Northwestern, stated, “I’ve had the great opportunity to work with Teresa Woodruff for the past 10 years. Our ability to support her work in new educational paradigms has been the highlight of my career.”

Wallach elaborates on the innovative style of this MOOC by stating, “The role of social learning—as demonstrated via MOOCs—is the next stage beyond Twitter, blogs, and other social media platforms to support education.” Indeed, more and more people are seeking out health information online. Nowadays it is far more common to look up information online instead of going to libraries to do research or opening physical copies of encyclopedias to get information. For this reason, it is important that accurate and high-quality information is as easily accessible as the click of a button. Woodruff’s MOOC is user-friendly, informative, and pithy, and can be accessed for free by anyone, anytime, anywhere. Join us for this exciting launch on the 28th and learn how your reproductive health impacts you.

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