OLI Team


Peter Decherney

Faculty Director

Peter Decherney is the Faculty Director of the Online Learning Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania. He advises the Provost on Penn’s online learning strategies and policies; he works with Penn’s twelve schools to develop their online programs; and he oversees the many responsibilities of Penn’s Online Learning Initiative office. 

Peter is a Professor of English and Cinema & Media Studies, with a secondary appointment at the Annenberg School for Communication. He developed a pioneering open online course (a MOOC) on the history of Hollywood, and he has taught for-credit online courses. He has received teaching awards that recognize his innovation in the classroom, his influence on national education policy, and his commitment to teaching non-traditional students. Peter’s many books include Hollywood and the Culture Elite, which examines the introduction of film into Ivy League curricula as early as the 1910s. And he has written about higher education policy and strategy for the New York Times, Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, and other publications. Peter spends his summers engaged in the opposite of online education, taking small groups of students to China, Kenya, Ethiopia, Myanmar, and Puerto Rico to engage local communities in the production of participatory documentary and virtual reality films.

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Rebecca Stein

Executive Director

Rebecca Stein is the Executive Director of the Online Learning Initiative. She co leads the OLI team with the Faculty Director setting strategic initiatives for online learning at Penn, supervising the creation of online learning environments and leading the charge to provide online students the services they need to succeed.

Before joining OLI, Rebecca taught large classes in the economics department and was an early adopter in teaching online. As an award-winning innovator in the classroom she found it natural to embrace teaching online, first through Coursera and then in for-credit courses at Penn.  She is inspired by the ability to reach students across continents and impact their lives and careers from afar. Rebecca hopes many Penn faculty will be drawn to this opportunity to extend our impact through teaching and inclusion of new student populations. 

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Megan Carr

Director, Digital Learning

Megan leads OLI’s Digital Learning Team responsible for online technology infrastructure, experimentation, business and compliance processes, and consultative support for online learning offerings across Penn’s diverse set of schools. Megan works with school teams, central departments, and third-party partners to cultivate opportunities for innovation by helping to create resources, tools, and connections to help foster online strategy and program development. She connects stakeholders with resources within OLI and throughout the University, facilitating collaborations that foster growth in Penn’s diverse portfolio. Megan also provides oversight and strategic planning for OLI’s Online Learning Platform, administers the OLI Spark Grant Program and manages third-party partner relationships and data related to the Penn MOOC portfolio. She is also involved in compliance efforts across multiple regulatory bodies in collaboration central offices at Penn.

As part of the early adoption and experimentation in open online learning at Penn, Megan facilitated early MOOC development and helped establish strong partnerships with Coursera and edX. The opportunity to work with faculty and staff in the creation of impactful content delivered on-campus and globally is one of the most rewarding aspects of her role. Prior to her role at OLI, Megan worked on teams in Penn’s Office of the Vice President for Finance and Office of the Senior Vice Dean for Medical Education in Perelman School of Medicine.


Jessica Morris

Director, Instructional Design & Technology

As a team member of both the Online Learning Initiative (OLI) and Penn’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Jessica fosters close collaboration and communication between both offices and partners across Penn to identify and promote best practices in the design and delivery of innovative, inclusive, and high-quality digital learning experiences. As the lead of the Instructional Design and Technology team, Jessica oversees instructional design and technology projects, consults on the design and development of new online initiatives, and facilitates workshops on teaching effectively with instructional technologies for faculty, TAs, and staff. She also convenes Penn’s Instructional Design Working Group which is a monthly gathering of staff from around Penn to discuss and share relevant practices related to the design and facilitation of online learning experiences.  

In prior roles, Jessica has worked as an instructional designer and supported instructional technology projects across sectors including higher education, K12 teacher development, and international development.

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Semele Turro Yared

Salesforce Administrator & Business Analyst

Semele is part of OLI’s Digital Learning Team and is responsible for the maintenance, management, and growth of the Online Learning Platform, a Salesforce-based e-commerce system that supports online programs at Penn. On the Online Learning Platform, learners can search, explore, apply for, purchase, or access online courses, programs, and degree offerings. 

Semele works closely with program staff from across the university to create offering listings and manages all subsequent enrollments, payment processing, applications, application review, reporting, and learner support. She also collaborates with technical partners across campus to integrate central systems with the Platform to ensure a streamlined experience for school partners and learners.