The finance class I chose to teach online is an introductory course for business minors. The goal of the course is to give a broad overview of basic financial concepts to students. We teach the fundamentals of how money changes in value over time, debt and equity pricing, as well as how to make investment decisions from the personal and corporate standpoint. It is assumed this will be the only finance class in these students' undergraduate education and we therefore attempt to prepare them for their role as employee, competitor, manager, and shareholder. With this goal in mind, we use many examples that directly relate to their personal lives. For example we look at mortgages, student loans, credit cards, retirement investing, major purchases, as well as how to analyze businesses from a competitor and employee standpoint.
There are numerous challenges in teaching this class. The students are business minors and therefore have a wide variety of math skills and backgrounds. This creates pacing issues in the classroom, in that some students are very quick with the quantitative material while others need a lot of one on one time to learn the material. Once the class is full each term I send an email to registered students noting that online classes are harder, not easier, than face-to-face class and require a lot of self-motivation. I ask students to consider their math skills and learning styles to determine if the class will be a good fit for them. I encourage them to get in touch with me if they are concerned about the challenges of being in an online class.
Teaching this class as an online course allows students to self pace without the time constraints of the classroom. Students who struggle also have more opportunities to help themselves than may be available in the traditional face-to-face setting due to the wide variety of online resources. It also allows students to have a more flexible schedule that is necessary for some majors (for example, students completing architecture studios). I also feel it is important for us to offer online courses to be competitive in the educational environment and give access to education to nontraditional or non-campus based students.
Course Syllabus ( PDF 133K )