This week I am away on an offline vacation. Rather than let the blog be dormant or rerunning old posts I decided to give some other people a chance to share their experiences and ideas with you. I hope you enjoy the posts.
The Virtual Stock Exchange Game at MarketWatch
offers a challenging interactive experience that is completely free and
online. Users create a fictional portfolio of investments whose value
goes up and down as it would in the real stock market. The players’ net
worth is ranked on a scoreboard, adding a competitive element that makes
it like financial fantasy football.
the controversies currently surrounding Wall Street, there is plenty of
value in teaching a stock market simulation. However, teachers and
students should first understandings a few things. Investing success is not
guaranteed, and thus assessments cannot be tied to the amount of
fictional money students make or lose. The activity should also have a
long time horizon – a month at least, a semester or year ideally – so
students experience the market’s fluctuations. And of course, everyone
must know the basics like what a stock is and how companies sell their stock to the public. An excellent collection of videos that explains these and many other concepts can be found at Investopedia.
who participates in the Virtual Stock Exchange needs to register with a
valid email address. As the teacher setting up the game, I recommend
giving players a relatively small amount of money like $10,000 and
choosing the normal version of the game that does not allow certain
aggressive financial maneuvers. This will minimize distractions and keep
students focused on learning about their investments. There is also an
option to keep the game private and password protected.
students join the game, they will be eager to begin! They may need some
guidance to complete their first stock purchases, as all the world’s
investment possibilities can be overwhelming. A good starting point is
the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500,
two indexes of large US corporations. Students will be familiar with
many of them and their stocks tend to be less risky than smaller
Once they acquire a few stocks, students can learn to investigate those companies in depth using Google Finance.
They can compare a company to its competitors, see its recent mentions
in the news, and look at detailed measurements about the stock (which
they can learn to read from this video and this article).
time and curriculum allows, there are plenty of opportunities to go
deeper. Students can diversify their portfolios to include stocks from
different industries and a balance of large and small companies. They
can also learn about different types of investments like mutual funds
and exchange traded funds (ETFs), which the Virtual Stock Exchange does
include. A summative project is a possibility for students to reflect on
their performance and share what they learned.
Virtual Stock Exchange can be done as a curriculum unit, an
exploratory, or an after school club. It offers a multitude of
connections to math and social studies content; students crunch numbers
and learn about companies that provide the goods and services they use
every day. But above all they practice a process of informed decision
making, as success requires background research and following current
events. And of course, it’s fun! I play along with my students and learn
new things every time.
Panna currently teaches economics and history at the International
School of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. Next year he will begin a
new post at the Walworth Barbour American International School in
Israel. His previous articles are available on Instructify.