Every year, Cornell’s School of Continuing Education (SCE) offers dozens of online Winter Session courses that help students, interested adults and motivated high school students to get ahead in their studies, earn credits, or learn something new.
One such hallmark course is Introductory Microeconomics (ECON 1110) taught by Jennifer Wissink, a senior lecturer at Cornell’s Department of Economics. The course features a mix of synchronous and asynchronous content, interactive activities and breakout sessions.
Wissink recently talked to SCE about her experience teaching during Winter Session.
How long have you been teaching ECON 1110 online for Winter Session?
Econ 1110 was in the very first group of online distance learning courses [SCE offered its first distance learning course in December 1997–January 1998]. The technology has come a long way since then.
What do you like about teaching a three-week Winter Session online course?
I like how everyone—the students, the TAs and myself—is completely engaged for the entire time the session runs. It is rather intense, but extremely rewarding. Especially since there are no other courses or regular semester activities competing for one’s time and attention. We all devote all our academic attention to this one and only course. Students learn so quickly and deeply this way.
Who is the ideal student for your Microeconomics course?
Someone who is mature, self-starting, responsible, dedicated and, most importantly, someone who does not procrastinate. There’s no time to procrastinate. The course moves too quickly.
What do you enjoy most about teaching this course?
It’s quite fun to get to know the students so well since you interact with them more-or-less 24-7 while the course is in session. There is a lot of back and forth on the Canvas discussion board and lots of face-to-face interaction via Zoom. And, everyone is laser focused on learning the material. There are so many real-world questions and situations that lend themselves to being analyzed using the tools and lens of microeconomics, students get excited and passionate about the material quickly.
What do you hope your students come away with by the end of the course?
A solid understanding of what economics is all about and how economics can be used to analyze and address an enormous and very interesting variety of real-world situations. By the course’s conclusion, the student will have developed a working understanding of several of the basic modeling techniques used by economists. The students will also learn incredibly valuable lessons on how to approach any situation that involves allocating scarce resources—whatever they may be—among alternatives uses.
What should students know about taking a three-credit course in just three weeks?
You can't procrastinate. You must tend to the course each and every day. Each day is equivalent to what you would do in a typical week during a full 15-week semester. So, students need to be prepared to be all in.
Enrollment is open to anyone interested in taking a class—from undergrads and high school students to alumni and motivated adult learners. Students can earn up to four credits in the three-week session.
To learn more about Winter Session, visit the SCE website.
Shelley Preston is the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions’ communications and marketing specialist.