by Rosemary Legessia
As with most technology, financial literacy software programs have been evolving to create a better user experience. In the past, many of the online ‘money games’ were just that – games. Today there are highly advanced virtual learning centers and software programs that offer a wide range of life skill training.These programs deliver cutting edge information to the technology addicted (almost all of us) generations that seek to build skills that can improve their life and the lives of those they love. They offer an experiential learning simulation that improves retention rates and entertains users in the process.
In reviewing the software and financial education workshops offered by the NFEC, it is apparent it was designed by individuals that have a real world financial expertise. It was particularly exciting to discover the programs were also designed around national financial literacy standards.
Organizations, teachers and individuals prefer the NFEC application because of the flexibility. It can be used in conjunction with in class education or be a standalone education system that students complete on their own time. With the ability to easily download completion and performance reports a teacher can easily monitor the student’s progress throughout the program.Financial education software programs allow schools of all grade levels, nonprofit groups, concerned citizens (parents, grandparent, community leaders, etc.) and organizations the ability to deliver a practical financial literacy education time and cost effectively. There are also sponsors that can help you cover the cost of these programs and even raise funds for your organization.
When choosing the financial education software that meets your objectives be sure to consider key factors like: ease of use, entertainment value, educational standards, investment required, training needed, implementation plan and support to name a few.
Reflect on the demographics of those you are serving. Take into consider what you feel would motivate them to be truly engaged in a virtual financial education course. For many, this will be the only training they receive and providing an experiential learning experience will ensure this information is retained better than a typical chalk board classroom education.
If you have time in your program to include an action oriented classroom education on top of the virtual learning centers – the results may impress you. The NFEC offers practical financial literacy curriculum that is aligned with their financial education software. In addition, for younger participants a parent education and financial educator training courses are also available to ensure a holistic approach to education.
Besides enlisting the support of a team (educators, parents, etc.) the effectiveness of a financial education software curriculum can be improved by ensuring participants are excited to start the process. Having financial literacy programs designed to peak the students interest and motivation, can increase the participation rates and overall satisfaction with the program. Events like the Real Money Experience or Money XLive can get the participants focused on why this training is important.
It is important to know when teaching students about money, there are strong reasons for them to pick up this information. Since the majority of things they want out of life require money, this is a subject we can easily get students excited about. It is important to locate financial education software that talks to students in a way that is aligned with their age group. For instance, with Baby Boomers the focus can be on ‘financial security’ while a program for Gen Y would be more effective it its language was centered on lifestyle and other details that align with their values.
Value alignment is critical when choosing financial education software. Before making a purchase, be sure to give it a trail and also let the people you serve give it a try. Ask for their feedback so you can make a truly informed decision.
Once you do select the solution that is best for you, do not immediately let your participants start without conducting a pre-test. This test will give you baseline results that you can use to measure the effectiveness of the program. The NFECs’ programs come with pre-tests built into the software and are implemented automatically for you.
Of course a post test is needed as well to get the quantitative measurement of their results. Again in the NFEC financial education software this is also included. A simple report will allow instructors to clearly measure the effectiveness of the program. Other testing within the software provide students measures and guidance along the way.
Once the program begins, be sure to check the progress of the participants along the way. If you notice students that may be having a difficult time with the material find out why. The unique thing about the subject of money is that there are a lot of emotional issues attached. Some of the students may carry this over and it will impact their education. For instance, if a student is living in a situation where they are barely making ends meet that student may experience stress during the program thereby impacting their performance. On the other hand, a student who has been given whatever they want all the time by their parents may feel they do not need this information. Use the tests and quizzes as a way to identify any money relationship issues and help the student’s progress.
It is my belief that everyone can benefit from financial literacy training, and the latest financial education software programs can make delivery easy. Take the time to choose the lesson plans that best match your audience, goals and time requirement to maximize the results of your efforts.
Today it is possible that everybody receives money life skill training before they move out from their home or graduate high school. Remember just this one training program can be all the money skills training a participant receives so make sure it counts. Thank you for reading this article, it shows your effort to provide this training to others, and we hope it helps you choose the financial education software that impacts the lives of those you serve.