eLearning Course: 

Economics Short Course

Background: Coursera eLearning Course

Having a better understanding of economics and being able to think critically about how the system works, can make anyone a better-informed citizen, consumer, and voter.

The New School for Social Research's (NSSR) Economics faculty wanted to create a short course for average citizens to have the opportunity to learn more about the many different dynamics at play within economic systems. 

I worked on this project as a contractor through Freedom Learning Group (FLG) for the New School for Social Research (NSSR) where I was the Lead Instructional Designer with a team of 4 on the FLG side and a team of 4 on the NSSR side. I will share in another section below what parts of the course I helped design and my duties in this collaboration.

At this current time, over 2,100 people have enrolled in the course. 

Note: I have obtained permission from both FLG and the NSSR to share samples from this project. 




The Design Process

Problem:  How can I take economics content created by three separate SMEs to make it feel cohesive, collaborative, and feel like it has a similar voice and flow so that it can all be packaged together in the same course? How can we get this deep information across in in easily-digestible ways for the average person at home who wants to learn this information, but doesn't have the time to take a full course on economics?

Back of a woman sitting at a desk looking at a virtual meeting screen

Initial Meeting with the SMEs

As a contractor, I was not involved with the initial meetings for the course. When I came onboard, I was given the task of helping to create a video-based course, leveraging our 3 SMEs to provide scripts, readings, and assessments.

There were two other instructional designers working on this course with me; each of us was assigned one instructor to work with. However, after 1 month of the project, I was promoted to the Lead Instructional Designer to help keep the team communication flowing smoothly and to give guidance to the other two IDs, as well as the three SMEs. (Additional Lead ID duties discussed later on this page.)

I researched my SME's work to get a better sense on his economic viewpoint, then contacted him to introduce myself and explain about the flow of our work together to not only build rapport, but to keep our time together organized and streamlined, communicating what roles we would each play in the process of creating this course. 


The SMEs created the content for this course.  As this course would be almost completely video-based, our process was for our Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to write their scripts, for the Instructional Designers (IDs) to read through the scripts and edit and revise them, adding images and graphics as needed to strengthen understanding or chunk content, then have the SMEs make any changes necessary.

The main editing and revising that needed to be done was mostly to take the very well-written high-level content and turn it into something that could easily be digestible by your average 18-24-year-old person who did not have a background or degree path in Economics. 

Additionally, we IDs chose images and created graphics as needed for the videos. 

All of this work was done virtually through a Google Docs storyboard.  We managed the project by keeping track of what work was ready to be reviewed on a Team Tracker in Google Sheets. All parties checked the tracker daily to see what pieces were ready to move to the next stage.  

We used Suggesting Mode as well as comments in the Storyboard Docs to discuss changes and ideas.  This way, the contractors and SMEs could get to the work as they were able to do so, no matter the timezone, and could get feedback in a timely manner.

I've found that giving timely, appropriate, tactful, thoughtful, and kind feedback allows the project to move forward more quickly and helps to continue building the ID/SME relationship in a positive way. The SME knows you're on their side, but also knows that you are going to give them actionable tips to make their work even stronger. 

Select the storyboard image in this section or the link here to view a sample storyboard from the course. 


The video development for this course was provided by an outside company. Our ID team provided our storyboards, graphics, and images to the company so they could film and create these videos to match the vision and work we did with the SMEs in our storyboards. 

Simultaneously, the SMEs worked on creating readings for each module, as well as assessments. Our ID team edited and revised these additional activities, making sure objectives were covered. 

I created culminating project for the course during this time as well. 

After we received videos back, we built out the course in the Coursera platform, adding in all videos, readings, assessments, and assignments. 

As the Lead ID, I did a complete course review. (See below for more details.)

My Role in This Project

As the Lead ID, I had many duties throughout this 5-month project. Some (but not all) of my duties were: 


This was one of my first full course builds as an Instructional Designer at the university level. I loved working with my FLG team, as well as creating relationships with these three wonderful SMEs. I also enjoyed the challenge of creating a process for our team to work more efficiently when there wasn't a specific procedure in place. 

I very much enjoy the project management aspect of instructional design projects. In this project, I liked creating processes and systems to make things run more smoothly. I was able to utilize my long-honed skills in this area by requesting updates to our course tracker to make communication between parties more clear, sending out email updates for timelines and statues to the team (instead of wasting precious meeting time on this), and creating a review process and separate review tracker for SMEs and IDs to be able to review their assigned parts of the course in a timely manner. 

I liked learning more about the field of economics myself during this course build. It goes to show that as an Instructional Designer you don't have to be a SME yourself in order to create a great deliverable, you just need to know the best way to get the right info from your SMEs.

The Finished Project

View a sample video by selecting the link below

To see more parts of the project, select the links at the top of this page.

Metrics & Feedback  

While I don't have admin rights to the course anymore (so I can't see all of the backend data) I can tell from the landing page of the course on Coursera that at this current time of this page's creation, the course has over 2,100 people enrolled and the course has a 4.8 out of 5 star rating from 29 reviews. 

Overall, I know this course is amazing! However, I always reflect on things I'd make even better when redesigning courses. 

At the time of creation of this course, our team decided the culminating project needed to be a Peer Review project, as that was the best option for what needed to be accomplished. 

However, I'm wondering if that peer-review portion of the project (where another live person in the course has to view your project before it's considered complete), has stopped some people from completing the course, and if we would see a higher number of completed ratings if the project was changed or removed. This would give us more data on how the course is being received.