Rebecca Stein’s Economics 001 class is going global.
On April 8, students from all over the world will begin taking “Principles of Microeconomics” with Economics senior lecturer Rebecca Stein through Coursera.
Currently, 13,040 people have already signed up for the course as of press time. Registration will continue until April 8.
This course, which will last for nine weeks, consists of short eight- to 10-minute videos. At the end of each video, Stein will post questions that students are expected to answer. Each week students will also be expected to complete a multiple-choice quiz and a peer-assessment exercise.
Additionally, Stein will conduct online Google chats with her students to discuss the subject. Through this forum, Stein also expects to receive different kinds of feedback than what she has received in her class at Penn thus far.
“I think I’m going to get a more international perspective through what students post on the forum,” Stein said. “I’ll probably get much more detailed feedback, and it might help me rethink the way I teach things.”
Although Stein is accustomed to teaching many students at a time — her lectures at Penn usually consist of a couple hundred students— she anticipates that teaching an online course will be very different from teaching a lecture.
She recognizes that because she is teaching an international group, she needs to “hook” her students in a very different way. Stein said she expects the need to explain concepts in multiple ways in order to ensure that her students understand the material.
She also understands that it will be challenging to teach students with whom she doesn’t have offline interactions.
“I’m used to having some of my students being passive, but I’m also used to engaging students through assignments,” Stein said.
Though she said she was anxious about teaching over 13,000 students, Stein is both eager and excited to teach through Coursera.
“I am looking forward to how the Coursera course will inform and transform my in-class course,” Stein said.
College freshman, Jacklyn Kornstein, who is currently enrolled in Stein’s course in microeconomics, spoke highly of Stein and the likely success of her course through Coursera.
“Professor Stein is a great lecturer in the classroom,” Kornstein said. “I have listened to online recordings of her lectures as well and find them to be helpful and equally effective in conveying the material. I think students around the world would benefit from Internet lectures by Professor Stein on a larger scale using Coursera”
Stein also believes that teaching on Coursera will provide her with the opportunity to test the “flipped classroom model” which suggests that ideally, students should be watching the lectures at home and doing the homework and problems in the classroom.
She hopes that family members of her students will try her course on Coursera.
“I think this is a great opportunity for parents and siblings of my students to share in the experience,” Stein said. “It’s free, people should feel free to try it.”
Penn started its partnership with Coursera last spring and launched its first course in June 2012. Twenty-two Penn faculty members have taught or are teaching courses through Coursera.
According to Deirdre Woods, Interim Executive Director of Penn Open Learning Initiative, the Provost’s Office was particularly excited about asking Stein to teach.
“Rebecca is clearly an outstanding teacher in the College and clearly a person that we wanted to talk to,” Woods said. “She was very excited about the prospect.”
Woods explained that Stein is very effective in communicating the microeconomics principles through the video clips she has already filmed.
“Being able to take microeconomic principles and make them interesting and applicable in modern-day society is something that she’s great at,” Woods said.
Bolstered by positive feedback already received on other Penn courses offered through Coursera, Woods anticipates positive responses to Stein’s course as well.
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