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Friday, May 30, 2014

EconEd Active: Ideas for an engaging classroom

One common challenge for instructors new to interactive teaching is deciding exactly what to do. From one perspective, there are tons of resources available (like all those listed on my ‘Resources for Teachers’ page), providing ideas about what to do and guidance on how to do it. But almost all of those resources are organized around pedagogy; for example, From ABBA to Zeppelin has great examples of song lyrics that can be used to teach economic concepts, Games Economists Play catalogs lots of ‘experiments’, and the Starting Point portal is organized by pedagogical tool (clickers, simulations, context-rich problems, etc.). But for folks who don’t already use these tools, how do you know which site to go to in the first place?

Many economists don’t think much about pedagogy, let alone think about it first. Instead, most people start with the content they know they want to ‘cover’ and then they think about how they are going to teach it. Once you are on a site like Games Economists Play, you can certainly search for examples addressing specific concepts (like ‘elasticity’ or ‘externalities’) but again, to get to the site, you first have to be thinking “I want to find an experiment for this”.

Last fall, I began working with the folks at Worth Publishers on a site for teachers who want to incorporate more active learning into their classes*. To make it more useful for those who may not do much interactive teaching currently, everything is organized under broad econ topics (loosely corresponding to common textbook chapters) rather than pedagogy, and each topic page has links to other resources from around the Web, as well as examples of clicker questions. The objective is not to catalog every possible option for activities but to give people an idea of the range of possibilities and get them started (the way I put it is that I am ‘curating’ the resources, not creating or cataloging them).

The site, called EconEd Active, is now up and running, though it is still (and will continue to be) a work in progress as I add more/new content. We’re also hoping folks who use these activities will contribute to the conversation, sharing insights from their own experiences; right now, the best way to do that is through the Facebook page.

If you’re new to interactive teaching, or you’re thinking about flipping your class and looking for things to do with the class time you’ve freed up, or you just attended CTREE and are energized to re-vamp your classes, I hope you’ll check out EconEd Active and let me know what you think!

* The site is provided by Worth but it isn’t associated with any particular textbook and is available to everyone.

1 comment:

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