For the past 5 years, I have had great opportunity teaching Investment Strategies (IS) program to students in Grades 8 and 9 at different schools. This program is operated by Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta, a non-profit organization providing different programs to youths in order to build their non-academic skills. IS program utilizes in-class technologies like smart board and PowerPoint presentation and it involves internet-based activities like online stock market simulation where groups of students set their online investment portfolio and engage in trading activities, just like the real stock market.
One aspect of IS program which I find quite interesting is the 6-week long, web-based stock market simulation where groups of students compete with other groups in maximizing their virtual funds. Every year, it is an exciting experience to see students collaborating in this activity and promoting learning through group discussions. Much to my delight is to see how quickly they gain knowledge from online simulation which provides resources like Google finance and different stock exchange websites. For instance, when I started introducing topics like Ticker Symbols and public and private stocks, the students were already familiar with these topics from their simulation. Moreover, most groups knew which stocks were highly recommended for trading in the stock market and when to sell investments in order to make profits. Thus, this online collaborative activity “promot[es] ………. conceptual understanding to the enhancement of motivation and development of group problem-solving abilities” (Persico et al, 2010) in students.
One of the issues I have encountered in this program is the availability of technical support. Often times, I have come across situations where I am not able to play YouTube videos related to investment strategies due to internal firewall blocking access to view videos. Lack of timely technical support and “restricted access to the available technology [are]……..limiting factors to making instruction more flexible in terms of time and space” (The Alberta Teachers’ Association, 2011, p.17)
Finally, this e-enhanced activity in IS program promotes learning among students; however, it would be helpful for a program instructor to be able to use online analytical tools to monitor this collaborative learning. As Persico et al (2013) mentioned “monitoring is a crucial activity for informing practice as well as research”; hence, these tools can provide deep and specific understanding on how students are learning about investment strategies through collaboration. It can also provide quantitative data on the use of resources – frequently used and underused resources – in the online simulation.
Persico, D., Pozzi, F., & Sarti, L. (2010). Monitoring collaborative activities in computer supported collaborative learning. Distance Education, 31(1), 5-22
The Alberta Teachers’ Association (2011). The impact of digital technologies on teachers working in flexible learning environments. Retrieved electronically 15 July 2013 from https://www.teachers.ab.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/ATA/Publications/Research/PD-86-21%20Impact%20of%20Digital%20Technologies.pdf