Update on next INFO7470 class (2017)

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Several potential participants have asked about when INFO7470 will be on the program again. This post aims to provide guidance on that. In short, the next version is likely to be in the Fall of 2017.

“Understanding Social and Economic Data” (aka INFO7470) is designed to provide students a detailed overview of the US federal statistical system, where data comes from and how it can be used for research. The course also aims to teach students basic and advanced techniques for acquiring and transforming raw information into social and economic data. More information can be found in the Summary. The course is taught as a mixture of self-guided online videos (MOOC-style) together with in-classroom discussions of the material. Students from multiple universities, scattered across the country and participating via videoconference, and from multiple domains (economics, demography, geography, statistics) contribute to the discussion.

INFO7470 was last scheduled in the Spring of 2016. At the time, we used recordings from previous years, together with in-class discussions, interspersed with live lectures. edX served as the online platform for discussions and exercises. About 100 students audited or took the class.

Based on feedback we got from students and faculty, and our own analysis of how the class was received, we intend to revise both content and form somewhat, including putting together a text book which can serve as a framework to have some of the online material more text oriented, interspersed with old and new video.

One of the ideas we are pursuing is to more formally split the class into two components, one a more institutional analysis of the statistical system, the other a more technical approach on how to use data produced by the system. This was already present in the current syllabus (the institutional aspect goes up through Lecture 9, approximately), but we want to make that a stronger component, allowing us to better address a very diverse audience.

We also are aiming to make the class more participatory. One of the strengths of the class (so we think) is the diversity and experience not only of the presenters, but also the participants. We will devise methods to better incorporate that experience into an engaging lecture series.

We are not yet ready with that revision. We are currently planning to pilot the (gently) revised version in the Fall of 2017.