Thirteen Terrific Technology Tools for Financial Education
Thirteen Terrific Technology Tools for Financial Education
Constant improvements and innovations in information-sharing technology present an ongoing challenge to educators teaching personal finance or any other topic. Not only must they keep current with subject matter content (e.g., changes in tax laws) and new products, services, and resources, but they must also become familiar with new technology tools that can enhance their teaching effectiveness, outreach, and productivity. This article begins with a summary of financial education technology tools described as personal favorites by workshop participants. The remainder of the article discusses thirteen technology tools and their financial education applications: animated videos, YouTube Live video chats, online calculators, online curricula, online quizzes and games, online personal finance courses, SlideShare, Twitter chats and Storify, Periscope (live video streaming), Ignite (Lightening Round) PowerPoint presentations, documentary films on personal finance, Excel templates, and webinar platforms such as Adobe Connect, Eluminate Live, Zoom, and GotoMeeting.
Personal finance, financial education, technology, social media
This article is based on the content of a workshop conducted at the 2016 Family Economics/ Resource Management Association (FERMA) meeting. The target audience was FERMA members who use technology tools as a big part of their daily work activity. The workshop’s purposes were to (1) introduce FERMA attendees to at least one new (to them) technology tool to enhance their financial education teaching effectiveness, outreach, and/or productivity and (2) encourage participants to use these tools and share others that are helpful in their work. Both the FERMA workshop and this article expand upon information contained within O’Neill (2016) and a professional development program for teachers about 30 technology tools for teaching personal finance (http://www.slideshare.net/BarbaraONeill/thirty-terrific-technology-teaching-tools0715).
At the beginning of the FERMA meeting workshop, participants discussed their favorite personal finance technology tools. Following are some of their suggestions: iPhone, Strava (an app for running and cycling), National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) materials, Animoto (video slideshow web site), e-mail, Walk Georgia web site, Dropbox, Stockmarket Game, Excel, Google Drive, YouTube, videos, digital photography, Zoom, and Hootsuite (social media message management and programming web site).
It should be noted that technology tools are a supplement, not a substitute, for high quality content that is relevant to learners and delivered by knowledgeable, caring, and approachable instructors. Learning is not about a device, web site, or phone app alone but about a learner’s total experience. To use an automobile analogy, pedagogy (or andragogy for adult learners) is the driver and technology is the accelerator (Scheninger 2014). In addition to effective technology use, other best practices include multiple “touch points” for various learner styles and strong student engagement.
Following is a brief description of 13 technology tools that were discussed at the FERMA conference and their financial education applications. The web sites were selected for presentation for their free access, ease of use, and ability to interest students in personal finance topics.
Available platforms to create animated videos include
- http://digitalfilms.com/ and
Basic functions are free but more involved features, including a wider selection of backgrounds, sounds, and characters, cost money. Pricing plans vary, and users are cautioned to pay attention to their accounts and not over-purchase services. One animated video creation site, Xtranormal, discontinued operations in July 2013, leaving many users who did not create mp3 files or YouTube uploads of their videos with no access to their personally created content. Others had thousands of useless prepaid “points” that were purchased to make future videos.
More than two dozen two- to four-minute animated personal finance videos can be found at https://www.youtube.com/user/moneytalkBMO. Another useful resource is whiteboard videos that tell a story with pictures that are drawn or placed on a plain background as the video recording is in progress. An example is this video on health insurance terminology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLjRGmm08pY.
YouTube Live video chats
Platforms for synchronous live discussions are useful for group meetings and presentations. YouTube Live videos can involve up to ten people simultaneously. Other examples of popular platforms are Skype and FaceTime, which is available on Apple devices. For examples of ARCHIVED VIDEO CHATS, see https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVU_O8Cq313tXCZ5RJBMyMw.
There are thousands of online calculators on a wide variety of financial topics. Among those shared at the FERMA workshop were
- The Ballpark Estimate (retirement savings calculator): http://www.choosetosave.org/ballpark/
- PowerPay (debt payment calculator): www.powerpay.org
- HSH Associates Mortgage Amortization Calculator: www.hsh.com/calc-amort.html
- Bankrate Loan Calculator: http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/mortgages/loan-calculator.aspx
- Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator: http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl,
- U.S. Inflation Calculator: http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/
- Bankrate Lunch Savings Calculator: http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/bring-lunch-savings-calculator.aspx
- Dinkytown.net calculators: https://www.dinkytown.net/and
- New York Times 1% more Savings Calculator: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/24/your-money/one-pct-more-calculator.html?_r=0
Available personal finance curricula include
- Financial Fitness for Life (Council for Economic Education): http://fffl.councilforeconed.org/
- Learning, Earning, and Investing (Council for Economic Education): http://lei.councilforeconed.org/
- FDIC Money Smart for Youth: https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/young.html
- A wide variety of lesson plans, case studies, assessments, and teacher training webinars by Next GEN Personal Finance: http://nextgenpersonalfinance.org/
- The NEFE High School Financial Planning Program: http://www.hsfpp.org/ and
- Take Charge Today (University of Arizona TCA Institute): https://takechargetoday.arizona.edu/
Online quizzes and games
Rutgers Cooperative Extension hosts six self-assessment quizzes on its web site http://njaes.rutgers.edu/money/ on the following topics: financial fitness, identity theft risk, investment risk tolerance, personal health and finance behaviors, personal resiliency resources, and credit management. Each of these quizzes asks questions about users’ current practices or what they would do in hypothetical situations. Other online quizzes assess financial knowledge. Examples include
- Credit Scores Quiz: http://www.creditscorequiz.org/
- National Financial Capability Study: http://www.usfinancialcapability.org/quiz.php and
- Student Financial Dollars and Sense:http://www.cuny.edu/about/administration/offices/sa/flep/quiz.html
Examples of financial education games that provide knowledge assessments and content application include
- Financial Football (Visa): http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/games/trainingcamp/
- Reality Check (Jump$tart Coalition): http://www.jumpstartcoalition.org/reality-check.html
- The Stock Market Game™ (SIFMA Foundation): http://www.stockmarketgame.org/
- Gen i Revolution (Council for Economic Education): http://www.genirevolution.org
SlideShare (www.slideshare.net) is a document-hosting web site where users upload primarily PowerPoint slides, Word and Excel files, and PDF files for public or private viewing. Keywords are used to facilitate document sharing. SlideShare provides an easy way for users to give their content a digital link for sharing on web sites and via e-mail and social media messages. Similar to YouTube, but typically used for non-video content, SlideShare provides outreach metrics (number of page views) to help content creators determine impact.
Twitter chats and Storify
Twitter chats are a synchronous learning environment where participants interact in real time using their Twitter user names (a.k.a. “handles”). As with tweets at professional conferences, the “glue” that holds Twitter chats together is the designated hashtag (example: #SSHWchat for the Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ Twitter chat). A Twitter chat hashtag creates a running stream of tweets so everyone can follow the “conversation.” The formatting convention is Q1 for Question 1 and A1 for participant responses to that question. Some chat organizers provide prizes, such as gift cards, as an incentive for participation.
Once a Twitter chat is completed, sponsors can use Storify (https://storify.com/) to create a story from the tweets, using the hashtag to connect the conversation. The Storify link can then be shared electronically, thereby leveraging social media use beyond the original Twitter chat participants. Following are some Storify examples: https://storify.com/moneytalk1/exchat-year-end-financial-planning-tips-2015 and https://storify.com/moneytalk1/cooperative-extension-money-smart-week-chat-mswcha.
Periscope (live video streaming)
Periscope is a live video streaming application available for use on both IOS and Android tablets and smart phones. Periscope videos can be public or confined to designated viewers. Users, called “scopers,” click four buttons to start a broadcast: enable camera, enable microphone, enable location, and start broadcast. Periscope, which was acquired by Twitter, follows a similar convention where “scopers” have followers. There is an option for scopers to tweet a link to their Periscope live video and for viewers to tap their device’s screen to produce hearts that indicate that they like the broadcast.
Ignite (Lightning Round) PowerPoint presentations
Ignite presentations are five-minute PowerPoint presentations with twenty slides that advance automatically every fifteen seconds. Ignite events are held in cities around the world. Popular at professional conferences, Ignite presentations can be used by an instructor or as an individual or small group assignment. Presentation templates and slideshow guidelines can be found at http://www.ignitephoenix.com/tips/. Previously delivered Ignite presentations can be found at http://www.ignitetalks.io/.
Documentary films on personal finance
Documentary films are characterized by their purpose: to document some aspect of real life to provide a historical record and/or learning experience. Following are examples of recent personal finance documentary films:
- Spent: Looking for Change (40-minute movie about cash-strapped families): http://www.spentmovie.com/index.html
- Broken Eggs (1 hour, 20 minute movie about Americans’ lack of preparation for retirement): http://brokeneggsfilm.com/
- In Debt We Trust (1 hour, 26 minutes) about Americans’ use of credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cltc4Og6HKo and
- When I’m 65 (a new PBS “retirement realities” program): http://www.iinvest.org/programs/when-im-65/.
Microsoft Excel templates
Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are a great tool for mathematical calculations associated with personal finance decision-making. Excel templates have math functions pre-programmed, making them easy to use. Examples include the following:
- a high school student budgeting worksheet https://www.cicmoney101.org/Calculators/Budget-Worksheets/High-School-Student.aspx
- a college student budgeting worksheet https://www.cicmoney101.org/Calculators/Budget-Worksheets/Traditional-College-Student.aspx and
- Excel templates for budgeting, net worth, and asset allocation calculations: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/money/.
Available options for web-based seminars that provide worldwide real-time information delivery and participant interaction (e.g., chat comments, document sharing, and polling) include Adobe Connect, Zoom, Eluminate Live, and GotoMeeting. Best practices for webinar delivery include the following:
- Develop webinar learning objectives and an outline to determine content flow
- Develop slides that are light on text, ideally no more than six bullets with six words
- Encourage participant interaction (e.g., polling) and questions
- Develop at least three key take-aways and take-away applicationsh7hh6ttt
- Keep it simple: use audio and video clips sparingly, if at all
- Seek, collect, analyze, and act upon learner feedback
O’Neill, B. 2016. “Thirty terrific technology tools for teaching personal finance.” Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences 108(1): 39-43.
Scheninger, E. 2014. Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Publishing.
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