Using Technology to Teach Financial Education: Important First Step in the TPACK Framework

Effectively teaching financial literacy to students or clients of any age requires a solid educational framework. The National Financial Educators Council (NFEC) has adopted the TPACK scaffold as the foundation for its curriculum and instructor training programs. The TPACK acronym stands for Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge – the key components underpinning a successful financial education system. In this article, financial professionals weigh in on the first of those components: using technology in teaching financial literacy.

Richard Zeitz, ChFEBC, President of Bravias Financial in East Brunswick, New Jersey asserts that he “embraces technology in the financial process everywhere I can.” And why? “Explaining complex financial concepts becomes simplified. Technology makes life easier for all involved, saves a ton of time, and is actually the preferred method for clients.” Employing technological advances when discussing today’s complex financial products with clients is a significant departure from methods popular in the past, Zeitz explains. “In the old days (pre-tech boom), clients were taught financial concepts on a whiteboard, legal pad, or even a cocktail napkin (yep…true story). Nowadays, if you are a financial advisor and not utilizing a blog, webinars, Skype, videos, online tools, big screens in the office, and the best financial software available when educating your clients, you are not only missing out on keeping up with the trends, but you are also not giving clients what they want.” Zeitz’s firm utilizes technology to perform the “heavy lifting” tasks for clients, such as “running income and asset projections to see how long their money will last, income/expense analysis to identify gaps, asset growth projections, investment/savings risk and costs analysis, identifying possible solutions, etc.”

Technology helps clients see the big picture more clearly, according to Bob Burger of Disciplined Money in Phoenix, Arizona. “It is important that clients see the reality of their situation,” suggests Burger. “Sometimes the reality is better than they thought and sometimes it means they need to make some difficult decisions. When we meet with clients, we walk through what is known today and discuss assumptions of their future. We input this into a software program that is projected onto a large screen so they can see the inputs being entered (or adjusted). This provides multiple points of discussion. They need to feel comfortable with the inputs. When they do, the output is simply math.” And “They can’t argue with math,” Burger adds.

CEO of Mobile Guardian Patrick Lawson summarizes the importance of applying technological methods in the classroom setting. “Any framework – TPACK, SAMR, FLIP – requires an investment in the correct tools and teacher training in order to be successful,” argues Lawson. He also stresses the need for adequate training on how to use technology properly. “Device management in the classroom must be simple and easy, freeing up teachers to instruct and students to learn. Management tools need to be integrated to ensure that mobile devices are always in a suitable state to support the teacher’s lesson plan and enhance learning rather than becoming a distraction and an administrative burden,” Lawson clarifies.

Seamlessly integrating technology into financial literacy education serves as a crucial piece of all the programming developed and maintained by the NFEC. This important component of the TPACK framework is an important first step to ensure that personal finance education stays fresh and up-to-date.


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