10 Great Resources to Help Teach Economics
Teaching in any capacity, let alone in economics, can be a daunting prospect: the prepping, marking, not to mention the actual teaching. It’s hard work. This reality is most acutely felt when you are starting out or moving institutions and having to settle in somewhere new. In both instances, the pressure and workload can feel intense. That is why it's useful – if not essential – to be aware of all the support that's out there, most of which – conveniently – is free and accessible online. So, without further ado, here are ten of our favourite tools for helping teach economics.
If your university has a CMS like Moodle, (this writer had the luxury of having access, thank you Humboldt Universität) you can upload lecture notes, links, and much more to a central website from which students can download all the information they need. You can even use it to host online class discussions (when has this ever been more relevant?) or to notify students that you're running late or a class is cancelled. There is widespread consensus among teachers that this is one of the easiest ways to get your materials online – and trust us, your students will be eternally grateful for the convenience.
2. Discovering Statistics
Statistics can, and often is, an intimidating topic for many students, and one which is perceived (INOMICS does not concur) as being dull. Regardless, this website from Professor Andy Field is full of funny, engaging information and practical advice on how to use statistics correctly in an academic setting. It can be an especially useful resource if, as is likely, you have some non-econometrics students in your class who may struggle with stats. The plain-language teaching of Prof. Field has been a ‘way in’ to statistics for countless otherwise hesitant students. Use it.
Mendeley is a site which can be used for both reference management (the band of most students’ lives) and social networking. For students, the reference management function will be most helpful, allowing them to build reference lists without all the tedious formatting that used to be required. Show this site to students who are tired of fiddly referencing procedures to make their lives easier. Using Mendeley means you can say goodbye to deadline day phenomenon of the disappearing bibliography.
4. Yahoo Finance
A website and app for keeping up to date with the latest news in global finance, including stock prices. Students can investigate the stock prices to see how what you are teaching them in the classroom plays out in practice.
5. Khan Academy
The Khan Academy offers an enormous resource of online teaching materials which covers economics, finance, mathematics, and much more. If you have a student who is looking for a new challenge, or one who is struggling with the basics and needs some help finding a place to start, then Khan Academy will have materials to assist.
There are a multitude of programs available for statistical analysis, each of which has their own advantages and disadvantages. However, it might be worth using SPSS to introduce your students to statistical software. While it's not the most comprehensive program available, SPSS is relatively easy for a beginner to use and has a large online support community. This makes it an un-intimidating entry for students getting into statistical analysis.
7. iTunes U
This Apple app has video and audio educational material from a huge range of subjects, including economics. Some universities will put entire courses online, recording full-length lectures. This makes the app an invaluable support for students. Encourage them to investigate the economics courses which are available to help broaden their knowledge. For teachers, it’s an excellent means of knowing what’s being offered elsewhere, and ensuring your syllabus does not fall behind the times.
8. Economics: A Very Short Introduction
The Very Short Introduction books are aimed at a general audience, but they can also provide a helpful starting point for new students who are struggling to orient themselves in a complex field. The book is brief, written in a conversational tone, and easy to chew through, making it an excellent introductory text for your new students. Make it part of your course’s preparatory reading?
9. Freakonomics Radio
This podcast, a spin-off from the enormously popular eponymous book, covers exciting and news-worthy issues in economics, with a fun and upbeat approach. It's more casual than academic, but is helpful in showing how the abstract issues discussed in economics can be seen in the real world. It makes for excellent listening on the way to or from economics classes, so encourage your students to download a few episodes.
10. The Economist magazine
Requiring little in the way of introduction, The Economist magazine, now well over 150 years old, is notable for the high quality of its writing and its longer, in-depth articles. For students who are interested in the crossover between economics and politics, international relations, or sociology, then this magazine will be full of interesting and relevant material. For the majority, it's likely already in their bookshelves.
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