Monday, July 30, 2012

Real World Connections

A couple of weeks ago a fellow instructor was struggling with the desire to incorporate more real world examples into her classroom but not knowing where to get started.  She and I discussed a variety of ideas, but I wanted to incorporate others' thoughts too and share them with all of you.

Jeff Davis, the Business Program Chair for Online, finds both a direct way and an indirect way to make real world connections for his students within his weekly discussion board posts and responses.  And I would say the best way to truly "see" how he successfully does this is by "seeing" some of his responses specifically, so here goes:

Direct method:
In response to a student saying that linear programming could be used in investment portfolio management:  "I can attest to the fact that linear programming is used in this way because I did so this morning.  Specifically, I used it to determine the least-risk portfolio that satisfied a return objective given in an investment policy statement. You can do the reverse as well: find the highest-return portfolio that meets the risk tolerance of the client."

In response to a student discussing the decision making process in regard to going back to work:  "In my work as a financial advisor, I have seen plenty of situations where both adults in a household were working, but it would have been better (sometimes substantially so) for one of them to stay home with the children. This is a very good example to show how important it is to carefully go through each of the decision making steps. You can't assume things on face value such as 'two incomes will be better than one.'"

Indirect method:  "any time you bring new information or current research to the discussion you are showing that you have professional experience"

In response to a student discussing changing asset allocations:  "That's right. Regarding shifting towards bonds when getting closer to retirement, there is a lot of current research suggesting that you shouldn't shift as much towards bonds as people generally think. It's true that in case the stock market goes into a down period, you do want a few years' worth of safe assets to meet expenses. On the other hand, we should remember that if you retire at 67, you are likely to live another 18 years on average. That means that at retirement, there is still part of your portfolio that you won't be needing for 10 or 15 years, so you could potentially stick with stocks for that part for the better growth."

In response to a student discussing risk and the financial crisis:  "Some people did ignore high risk, although I'd say that the bigger problem was that people did not accurately determine the risk level at all. You had the major rating companies giving the highest ratings to pools of bonds that were essentially junk, because they had no understanding of what these pools were made of or what their risks might be. The Big Short by Michael Lewis is an excellent book describing this situation."

In response to a student asking about stock market halts:  "That is correct. Most asset markets have trading halts called circuit breakers that take effect when the market falls by a certain percentage, in order to stop the panic. For example, the rules for the New York Stock Exchange are HERE."  (And he links to the exchange within the discussion).

Thanks Jeff!
These are just a few examples of how we as instructors can deepen our discussion board interactions by demonstrating real world connections for our students while also enhancing our own credibility as their instructors.

A huge "thank you" to Jeff Davis for sharing these great examples with all of us.  I encourage you to try some of these approaches in your own courses.

If you have any questions please let me know.

Heather Thomton-Stockman
Online Instructional Specialist

1 comment: