The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

Economics Network Virtual Symposium 2020

The Economics Network designed this unique symposium to explore and demonstrate some possibilities for online teaching, learning and assessment in economics.

The symposium consisted of four “themes” in online economics education, taking place mainly over the month of June with the final theme in September. Each theme ran over a week and began with the availability of online resources and guiding materials. Each theme then took differing approaches to encourage and develop interaction over the week, with some themes using live interactive sessions. We explored a variety of tools and platforms partly as a way of testing their suitability for productive online interaction.

The Economics Network Newsletter included a write-up of the June sessions by Fabio Aricò of the University of East Anglia.

Message from Prof Alvin Birdi, Director of the Economics Network

We invite all participants to join us in sharing their experiences of the various tools and methods used in the symposium, as well as in contributing to its substantive content.

Theme 1: Engaging students and academics with online learning

This live session explored three aspects of online learning that are likely to have particular relevance as we prepare to teach flexibly in the academic year ahead. The focus is on providing practical tips and demonstration through short activities with participants.

  • Part 1 explored how to adapt existing modules for online delivery.
  • Part 2 demonstrated how to engage students with offline material (asynchronously).
  • Part 3 focused on how to engage students in live sessions online (synchronously).

(read more)

Theme 2: Teaching with data online

This session explored the challenges of teaching econometrics online, both in small group and in large group situations. The session explored solutions to problems, such as teaching mathematical examples, whether your teaching set-up looks like something from the Starship Enterprise, or something a little more Del-Boy.

The asynchronous material is broken up into ideas about

  • Creating online teaching resources
  • Using statistical and econometric software
  • How to motivate students

Supporting the material is an online discussion board, with the opportunity to share, discuss and critique the ideas suggested.

(read more)

Theme 3: Teaching with Excel online

This session explored the significant and often unused potential of Excel in providing asynchronous resources for online economics teaching. The session was in two parts:

  • the use of Excel as a simulation tool in teaching economic theory;
  • the benefits of using Excel to teach data-based subjects in comparison to more specialised tools such as Stata or R.

(read more)

Theme 4: Adaptable Assessment in Economics

This session provided practical ideas on how to develop alternative adaptable assessments in economics degrees, building on lessons learned from the experience in 19/20. This is an opportunity to reflect on how best to assess learning outcomes, including those linked to development of employability skills, and how to design different assessments so they can work in a world of teaching online, face-to-face or a mix of the two.

(read more)

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