Thursday, March 29, 2012

Now Available to View!- Our March Economist Educators Virtual Seminars

John Taylor
Ron Cronovich
Jim Gwartney

The Economist Educators Online Virtual Teaching Seminars are available for viewing  HERE

John Taylor  Teaching Through a Financial Crisis

Jim Gwartney  Is Your Course Truly Balanced?

Ron Cronovich  No More Death by Powerpoint!

Don't forget to sign up for tomorrow's Seminar on Writing in the Economics Classroom Using Aritificial Intelligence for Grading and Feedback. You can Sign Up Here. Click on Events and Programs.


Monday, March 26, 2012

John Min--Extraordinary Economist Educator

I had the opportunity of spending some time recently with John Min from Northern Virginia Community College.  We had a great dinner at  the best restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky on Friday night. He was in town to speak at the University of Kentucky's Economics Teaching Conference. 

John had a very successful career in finance before he came to the realization that what he really wanted to do in life--his dream--was to teach economics at the community college level.

If you have never heard John speak, try to get to a conference where he is presenting. You will be energized, uplifted and will take away some great teaching ideas. 
Here is a treasure trove of resources from John. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Finding $20 in the Dryer! What is an Economist Educator Anyway?

Isn't it great when you find $20 in the dryer, or in that old coat you have not worn in a couple of years?

I have been following a really nice blog for a while--Economics for Teachers: Musings About Teaching Economics which is done by Jennifer Imazeki at San Diego State. The latest post is a wonderful one on grading. I finally explored the start here part of the blog---it was like putting my hand in the pocket of an old suit and finding treasure because I discovered that a task I had been dreading was done for me!

I needed to come up with a definition of what an Economist Educator is. I have been talking to instructors of economics since....well, the Carter Administration quite frankly. You can tell in the first minute or so whether they are what I would term an Economist Educator. They are...

  • the one who's classes fill the quickest---even the 8 a.m. ones. 
  • The one who you can picture stopping at the classroom door and whispering to themselves 'It's showtime!' as they step into the classroom. 
  • The instructor who runs into that biology student 2 years after she had him for principles of economics and he starts the conversation telling her about the 'opportunity costs' of taking this internship over the summer rather than that job. 
  • the one who truly believes that 'Instruction is an Art, and a Gift that We Give to the Future.'
Here is how Jennifer puts it, and I would not change a word:

        "It is important for me to point out that I am first and foremost an economist, though I don’t think of myself as a ‘typical’ economist. I also love to teach, but I specifically love teaching economics. I once read somewhere that a professor is someone who thinks the world would be better off if everyone knew a little more about his or her subject; that pretty much sums up my philosophy. I believe that understanding economics can help students make better decisions in their lives and my love of teaching is a direct extension of my love of economics.

     My love of teaching is also part of why I say that I don’t think of myself as a‘typical’ economist. I want to expand non-economists’ understanding of economic thinking so I know I need to communicate in ways that non-economists can understand."

Thanks for helping me out here, Jenn, but I am sure now my boss will now find something else for me to do. Oh, and thank you, all you other Economist Educators out there for all that you do.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

No More Death By Powerpoint!

Ron Cronovich and Greg Mankiw
A week or so ago, Ron Cronovich from Carthage College presented another in our Economist Educators Online Virtual Teaching Seminars, No More 'Death by Powerpoint': True Engagement in the Classroom. You can now see a recording of the seminar  Here  (first column about half way down)

Ron has been working on creating strategies for classroom engagement for some time. While he was at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, he was named the outstanding teacher in the school of business 3 times. He created the highly acclaimed premium set of power points for the Mankiw principles text which take the idea of traditional power points to a whole new level of interactivity and student engagement.

Other Online Seminars

There is still time to sign up for Tomorrow (Fri. March 23) seminar by John Taylor, Teaching Through a Financial Crisis. Register Here

Jim Gwartney's recent seminar "Is Your Course Balanced?" can be seen Here.

Let me know if I can help, John

Monday, March 19, 2012

Economics for Aardvarks. The Teaching Economist Strikes Again!

The spring 2012 issue of Will McEachern's newsletter, The Teaching Economist, is now available. This is the newsletter for Economist Educators everywhere---written by a master teacher.

Happy Birthday to The Teaching Economist!
Last fall at our teaching conference we celebrated 20 Years of the Teaching Economist. Not only is this spring's issue available online, but you can access the whole archive....each and every issue of the past 20 years!

If you would like to get on the mailing list to receive The Teaching Economist mailed to you, just let me know.   Don't forget, there is one place you can get all information about our products, events and resources and it is HERE

Friday, March 16, 2012

Good Thing There is No Fire Marshall on Line! Report from the Virtual Seminar Series

As you probably know by now, we have been running free (however you economists interpret that) Economist Educators Online Virtual Teaching Seminars each Friday in March.

For our first one, 'No More Death By Powerpoint!' last week with Ron Cronovich we had over 130 instructors register. If the internet had a Fire Marshall, we would have been shut down for overcrowding! We are currently editing that presentation and will be posting it shortly.

Today we had a big crowd and a great seminar featuring Jim Gwartney from Florida State University presenting 'Is Your Course Truly Balanced? Market Failures and Government Failures'.

If you did not get a chance to attend, don't dispair! Here is the recording.

Next Friday, John Taylor from Stanford University will be presenting 'Teaching Through a Financial Crisis' at Noon Eastern, 9 a.m. Pacific. You can register RIGHT HERE

I hope to see you next week. Virtually of course. Reminds me.....I need to find a bigger virtual room!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

First Annual Economist Educators Best in Class Teaching Award

“Do good work. Then share it with people.” 
This comes from a book called Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon and it made me think of the instructors that I have met over the years that embody The Art of Instruction, The Power of Engagement and foster The Spark of Discovery.

Some of the most creative, effective and engaging people are in front of introductory economics classes every day. They are true Economist Educators because they understand that instruction is an art and a gift that we give to the future.

Believe me, I know. I have been schlepping around college campuses since the earth cooled and I am never more energized, delighted and hopeful as when I sit across from one of these folks while they tell me about their love of teaching economics and the cool things they are doing with and for their students. They go the extra mile, learn the latest techniques, seek out the best tools and resources, take risks, experiment, fall down, get up---and all in a quest to be the best educator they can be.

It is so important that this great work is celebrated, shared and spread to other Economist Educators. This is the idea behind the Economics Teaching Conference that Cengage Learning does  every fall with the Gulf Coast Economics Association and this is the idea behind---

The First Annual
Economist Educators Best in Class Teaching Award
Sponsored by South-Western, a part of Cengage Learning

 CLICK HERE to learn how you can get your best work out to the world and win a trip to our conference this fall in Orlando to present your ideas. Winners can also receive a cash award for themselves and their academic department.
More to follow!
Please share this with your colleagues. Let me know if you have questions.

Our Community Site

Monday, March 5, 2012

Save the Date! 8th Annual Teaching Conference

Economist Educators should plan now to attend what has become the premier economics teaching conference in the country!

The 8th Annual Economics Teaching Conference sponsored by Cengage Learning and the Gulf Coast Economics Association will be held

November 8-9, 2012 in Orlando, Florida

Participate in sessions by some of the most creative instructors in the country as well as hear talks by some of the top economists in the world. Details are still being finalized so stay tuned. A call for papers to present at the conference will be following.

In the meantime, you can CHECK HERE for the latest information

 To see photos of past events,

Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Simplicity is NOT Simple

This is such a cool presentation of favorite quotes about failure. And the blues track that accompanies it is just yummy. A quote in it by Bill Gates really struck me.. “The barrier to change is not too little caring; but too much complexity.” It got me thinking about simplicity.
Those who know me will attest that if you want to get through to me you have to keep things as simple as possible.  Simplicity is such an important concept, but so hard to accomplish.
Paul Romer and Greg Mankiw
at a Cengage Learning Teaching Conference
As I often do, I was looking through various websites and blogs and I noticed an advocacy piece that a publisher was using to promote an online homework program.  It was written by a professor explaining her experience of training a couple of her colleagues on this online product---how to set up the course, how to choose questions, manage the outputs, setup and use the copious menu of features, bells and whistles etc. 
You might say “this must be a great product that someone would be willing to be an evangelist and take the time to train her colleagues” or you might say “shouldn’t a product be designed simply enough that I don’t need to be trained or for that matter, set it up myself?” This kind of product development sort of reminds me of a Mark Twain quote: “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
A number of years ago I had the good fortune of spending time with Paul Romer while he was working with publishers to integrate their text material into his online homework solution called Aplia. Paul told me that there were so many cool things that he could have added to his product, but each would have also added a level of complexity.
Paul told me that his philosophy was to choose only the most important thing; getting more effort from students with no additional effort required of instructors and to do those as simply, elegantly and consistently as possible. The product had to be intuitive, stable and an instructor could either customize it if she wished to get “into the weeds” or have her course set up by an Aplia support person with virtually no effort on her part.
Teaching and learning economics is challenging enough. A tool to do these things should not be challenging to use--- and a line of students outside an econ professors’ door with software issues should never happen. While there are products out there that do so much more than Aplia does there is a reason that almost a billion answers from students have been recorded in Aplia and it is by far the most used online product in Economics.
“Simplify, simplify”—Henry David Thoreau
John Carey