Asynchronous Online Graduate Public Policy Education: The Use of Dynamic Public Databases to Solve Problems and Advance Learning
Abstract: Graduate public policy education can be significantly enhanced by effective use of the same policy materials used by decision-makers in the same time frame as those decision-makers are operating. This paper describes an asynchronous online course in public budgeting taught in the US employing exercises designed to bring students into meaningful contact with the budget databases used by Congress and the executive branch to develop each year’s budget. Student learning is enhanced by working with current budget data and processes and answering a series of questions about the budget in general and a portion of it selected by the student. To generate those answers students must access key databases and extract budget information which they then interpret and report. The questions and the databases used for this purpose are detailed here. Grades for this course are entirely a function of student performance of such tasks.