Economics Network CHEER Virtual Edition

Volume 10 Issue 3, 1996

CTI Centre for Economics Report

Introduction: from FE to HE

First of all, a brief introduction to myself, Ros O'Leary, the new CTI Economics Co-ordinator, based at the University of Bristol. My background is in Economics, IT and teaching, having spent four years working for BT, and the last year teacher training at FE and secondary level.

From my last year's teaching experience, CAL and CBL does not appear to have made real inroads into teaching practice in schools and colleges; despite the prevalence of IT in the National Curriculum, it's use as a vehicle to teach other subjects remains largely unexplored. I am thus pleased and excited to find, as an IT enthusiast, the HE sector very much taking the lead - what with the widespread use of such Econometrics and Statistical packages as Minitab, SPSS and SAS, for many years now (even when I was an undergraduate at Exeter, where in the economics lab, we had keyboards and printers, but no VDUs!) and such projects as the CTI, and TLTP pushing the cause further.

I do feel, however, that progress at HE level must continue to be pushed. Undergraduates arriving this term are not only increasingly IT literate, but also have higher expectations of the provision and use of state of the art technology. For example, Biz/ed - an Internet service providing Economics and Business teaching and learning materials for FE and schools, has had over half a million 'hits' (or people accessing it's pages) within it's first 12 months of creation this year. [See the article on Biz/ed in this issue for its plans to provide for the HE sector]. Additionally, the impact of Sir Ron Dearing's 16-19 years report, earlier this year, which recommends increasingly practical 'A' levels involving a higher use of IT, will undoubtedly raise the needs and expectations of students when entering our HE institutions. Of course, Sir Ron will have a more direct impact in 1997 when he will be making recommendations to HE, and the indications are he will be again placing a high value on IT within education. Change and progress are certainly on the cards for the future.

CTI Economics: the Way Forward and an Invitation to Comment

Obviously, as a person new to the job, I'm keen to make my mark, and really want to ensure that the CTI Centre for Economics serves the community effectively. One of my first tasks has been to plan the Centre's activities for the next year which includes the CALECO annual conference, visits to departments and a programme of workshops: I am looking very much to you, the economics community, however, to advise me on your needs, and what you would like to see the Centre providing in terms of services. More specifically, I would like comments on: Please email me at

I also plan to conduct a survey of the use of IT in economics departments, which will provide another opportunity to comment upon the provision of services from CTI Economics.


One of the first events I have attended, since joining the CTI, was CALECO 96, the CALECO group's and CTI Economics' annual conference. (In fact I not only attended, but was very much involved in it's organisation). This year it was again held in Bristol, and despite a last minute change of venue ran very smoothly. Certainly, I personally found the range of papers, discussions and workshops extremely interesting, and encouraging in its indication of enthusiasm and progress in teaching Economics through IT. [See Guy Judge's conference report for further details: please send comments and suggestions for future conferences, which are currently at the planning and discussion stage to myself, email:]. CALECO 96 proceedings are due to be published in early 1997.

CTI Economics' new home: the ILRT

CTI Economics has now become part of a new department at the University of Bristol: the Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT). The new Institute is headed by CTI Economics deputy director, Phil Hobbs and its mission is 'to be a centre of excellence in the development and use of new technology in teaching, learning and research'. Apart from gaining economies of scale, the Institute will provide CTI Economics further opportunities to collaborate and be involved in other projects. Such economics and social science projects as Biz/ed, SOSIG and the TLTP project WinEcon (see articles in this issue for further details of Biz/ed and SOSIG) are also part of the Institute.

Smithtown Simulation Programs

Another member of the new Institute, be it temporary, Professor Arnie Katz from Pittsburgh University. Arnie is the author of the Microeconomics computer learning material Smithtown, previously reviewed in CHEER. See comments from Arnie himself in this issue, about latest developments in Smithtown. If you have any interest, queries or wish to try out the software please email him at

WinEcon latest developments

The award winning TLTP learning program, WinEcon, has recently added a third award to its collection. The latest award is the Asymmetrix Interactive award for best educational software, and was presented to Simon Price, the senior WinEcon programmer, at the Asymmetrix conference in Seattle, during September.

Other developments on the WinEcon front include the release of Version 4.1, and the publication of the WinEcon Workbook, both during October. The Workbook has been developed as a student resource to accompany the software, having been written and tested by the same author team that created the software, and edited by project leaders Jean Soper and Phil Hobbs. It consists of twenty-one chapters, that provide all the background and theory for a first year course, and self-assessment questions. It also includes screen shots to provide easy cross referencing with the software. The workbook is available from Blackwell Publishers at:

108, Cowley Road,
Oxford, OX4 1JF, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1865 791100
Fax: +44 (0)1865 791347

The Dearing Enquiry: an opportunity to contribute

Phil Hobbs, as director of the Institute for Learning and Research Technology (ILRT), is working with the Consortium of Telematics for Education (COTE) at Exeter University. COTE has been commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to undertake a research study into IT-assisted teaching and learning in HE (ITATL). This research effort will inform the Council and also feed into the Dearing enquiry into Higher Education which is currently underway.

Particular foci for the research will include:

  1. The roles that IT plays in teaching and learning;
  2. Professional and course development required;
  3. Managing and organising ITATL in HE;
  4. Evaluating costs and benefits, both educational and economic;
  5. International comparison, policy and recommendations.
The Project team would like to hear from individuals who would like to provide any input. A web page (with links to several electronic questionnaire forms) has been established at :-

CTI Economics and its Services

Just a reminder of the services offered by the Centre, if you do wish to comment, or indeed make use of the services:

Up and coming events

Two CTI/TLTP events are coming up during November. The first is at the University of Manchester on Tuesday 5 November, and involves the four HE Institutions in Manchester. The second is at the University of Surrey on Wednesday 13th November and involves institutions in the South East. A programme of workshops will also be coming up in the near future. If you would like further details of events, wish to comment, or just make contact, please contact me, Ros O'Leary at the CTI Economics address.
Top | CHEER Home

Copyright 1989-2007