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Using the Internet to Teach Economics:
An Idea Page

Students at all levels get excited about using the web and can benefit from using the web for up-to-date information. Recommended grade levels are shown, but you should tailor the project to your students. At the end, we even have a couple of web projects for K-4!

As students become more advanced at web use, they can begin to create their own pages. Any of the following ideas can be developed for advanced students by having them work in teams to create a Web Virtual Collection or Exhibition on the topic to share with others.

Reminder: One of the most important things you can do for your students is help them learn to evaluate information! Have them ask: Who provided this information? What are his or her qualifications? Is this information consistent with what experts say? Does this information reflect a particular viewpoint? What are the other viewpoints? What can I learn from this web page? Here are some sources of information on this:

Evaluating information found on the Internet
Criteria for evaluation of Internet Information Resources

For these exercises, the search tools of the Web will be very useful. Any of the following projects can be enhanced by finding more supporting information. The students can do most of this! A web site that links all of the major search sites is found at http://www.search.com. The most frequently used are:
  • Google Search Site
  • Bing
  • Webcrawler
  • Lycos
  • Kids Search (Reviewed Safe for Kids sites).

  • IDEAS: (Grades 6-12, First year college) Learn about other countries: their economies, population, people, geography, transportation, and communications. This project can be done by individuals or teams.

    You have just been hired in the international division of a multinational corporation that makes consumer goods to become an expert on other countries. Your first assignment is to prepare a report on a country in Asia (Note: here you can name some specific country or area of the world, if preferred). Your company is considering building a branch plant to produce a consumer good in this country. To get the facts, you hop on the Web and start with the CIA Factbook of information about all countries. After following the links to the latest Factbook, you want to collect the following information for your report:
  • Where is the country located and what is its physical size? Is it larger or smaller than your country?
  • How many people live there? Since your company's product is sold to adults, how many adults live there? (Note: for younger students, this could be a toy or sneaker company, so find out how many people younger than 15 years of age.)
  • Compare its climate to the climate where you live. Is it hotter? Is it dryer? What kind of crops are grown there?
  • Is the government a democracy? If not, what is it? Who is the current head of the government?
  • What kind of an economy does it have:
    • primarily market-based or centrally planned?
    • Is it a rich or poor country? What is the GDP per capita? Compare this to your own country.
    • What is the unemployment rate? Is unemployment a problem in this country?
    • What are the major natural resources of the country? What are the major industries? Is there a connection between its natural resources and the products it makes?
    • What is the country's money called? How much of your own country's money could you get for one of this country's unit of money?
    • If your company put a branch operation there, would it be satisfied with the communications system? Do most people in the country have telephones, for example?
  • Search the web to find out more information about the country. End your report with a recommendation to your boss about building a new plant there.

  • IDEAS: (HS, College) Use the following as bases for nearly-ready projects and tailor to your needs:
    Use these ideas and the supporting web links from EcEdWeb K-12 teaching page or College Teaching Page to develop lessons and activities using the most up-to-date information on the Web. In these pages and in the Economic Information Page there are additional websites covering each of the following topics:
  • Debt and the government deficit. See particularly
  • Money and monetary policy. (HS, College) See "Woodrow" Web at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis for a great collection of ideas.
  • Currency and Exchange Rates. See particularly An Economics Web Mystery: The Gang of 15!
  • Stocks and the stock market. Set up classroom projects and follow the stock values at APL Stock Quotes (15 minute delay) or use Invest Smart to run a stock market simulation with your students.
  • Neat fiscal lessons from IFS Institute for Fiscal Studies "Virtual Economy" in the UK:
      Virtual Economy
      The IFS "Virtual Economy" site is a wonderful educational economic model. At the heart of the Virtual Economy are sophisticated computer models which are very similar to those the Chancellor and his advisors use to prepare the Budget and to keep the economy on track. The model is based around No.11 Downing St. - the Chancellor's house and office. Visit each floor of the house for more information about the economy and model.

  • IDEA: (HS, College)An Online Lesson on Demand and Supply
      Take a look at EcEdWeb experimental pages for teaching demand and supply, with explanations followed by a self quiz. Would appreciate comments if you feel so inclined. If you use a Java-compatible browser, please do look at the self-quiz for students page I'm developing.


    IDEA: (HS, College) Use a WebQuests!

    Read about using a "WebQuest" as an Internet teaching plan.
    A nice resource page with links to training materials and example WebQuests can be found at Webquest Resources.

    Here's a webquest on the Great Depression for upper elementary grades: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?. And Here is another about the Great Depression.

    Here's a sample WebQuest on the Federal Reserve System:
    One of the most powerful committees in the U.S. is the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), yet this committee is little known outside of financial circles. Students use the World Wide Web to find information and then discuss the following:

  • What is the purpose of the FOMC?
  • Who serves on this committee:
  • What did they decide at their most recent meeting?
  • What was the reaction of the financial or business community to their recent decisions?
  • Summary: Why is this committee important?
    Information sources: The link in the K-12 teaching page to Woodrow at the Minneapolis Fed is a great starting place for Federal Reserve questions. Also the AltaVista search engine could be searched using "Federal Open Market Committee." Use bookmarks or otherwise keep track of the sites from which you gather information. They should be referenced in the discussion.

  • IDEA: Pros and Cons of a controverial economic issue
    A web project used frequently to teach both economics and evaluation of economic information is to have students build a case for or against a controversial economic issue. Examples of issues are minimum wages, social security privitization, health care reform, free trade, deregulation, environmental protection, farm subsidies, budget surplus/tax issues, capital gains tax, and adjusting the CPI. A website that specifically develops pros and cons is Ira Saltz' Economic Issues: Pros and Cons for Principles classes. Many websites can be found that espouse particular points of view. Students should be able to recognize the points of view of such web sites as the following:
    Cato Institute
    Adam Smith Foundation
    Centre for Independent Studies (Australia/New Zealand)
    Foundation for Economic Education
    Atlas Economic Research Foundation
    Institute of Economic Affairs
    Levy Institute
    The American Prospect
    Capitalism Magazine
    Intellectual Capital
    Informal Communism Discussion
    Leftist & 'Progressive' Internet Resources Directory

    IDEA: Develop your own WebQuests!
  • Here is an example of a webquest developed by a teacher:
    Webquest on On-Line Sales.
  • (HS, College) Most of the Federal Reserve Banks specialize in the research they conduct because of the characteristics of their areas of the country. Find as many Federal Reserve Banks as you can on the web. Learn what economic information and research they specialize in providing, and then explain why that is an appropriate specialization for the area of the country they serve. (Hint: See links below. Woodrow Web of the FRB of Minneapolis is a great starting place for Fed quests. City.Net and the CIA Fact Book are great for getting area and city information about the U.S.)
  • IDEA: Another idea for a WebQuest:
  • (All Levels) Suppose a student (or his or her parents) have 3 job offers, one each in Omaha, Denver, and Seattle. Use the web to research the important characteristics of these cities for the decision about where to go for a new job. Be sure to include the economic situation in the city, perhaps costs of living compared to the salary offers, housing costs and availability, and general economic well-being. (Advanced project: Use London, Paris, and New York. The project is the same, but exchange rates are also involved.)
    For the IDEAs above, the following have lots of information by country for resources, population and labor force, economic data, maps.
  • Follow links to the CIA World Factbook
  • City.Net for lots of city and regional information.
  • Exchange Rate Information
  • Woodrow Web, FRB of Minneapolis


  • IDEA: Great exchange rate projects for students!
    Global Grocery List: (K-12) Students can research and compare prices of a range of common products with the prices reported by students in other states and countries.
    Grocery Project

    Currency exchange rate exercises. (All Levels) One of the best examples of a fully worked out Internet exercise.
    Currency Comparison Page (not working recently)

    See these currency converters:
    Currency Converter
    The Universal Currency Converter
    Bloomberg Currency Converter
    EconoFinance Currency Converter
    Great Web Mystery Game Involving Currency See Eric Enholm's successful web mysteries "The Gang of 15" and several other great online educational games for economics and geography.
    Eric's Mysteries at Walnut Jr. High


    IDEA: (HS, College) Key your current classroom economics topic to analyses of news by leading economists.:
    Analysis by economists of current economics news (from DJN) keyed to textbooks by Varian and Stiglitz. Use this to find current events keyed to your topic of the day, discuss the news in your classes, and then see what the economists have to say about them.
    NOT RESPONDING Dow Jones and W.W. Norton World Wide Web Learning Resource


    IDEA: (All Levels) What careers are you considering?
    Find out about this career on the Internet. Are there job advertisements? Who employs persons in this career? Salary information, perhaps? Students put together a information page (or web page if they can) with job and career information. Also learn how to write a resume.
    Career Magazine Offers resume and cover letter writing advice, job search tips and job openings.
    It's My Future! Resume worksheet and a career interests quiz.
    Wall Street Journal Career Site
    Netscape Career Center
    A webquest on Internet job searching
    Career Mosaic
    Job Search Site
    Employment--Career Resources from Worcester Polytechnic
    Omaha Freenet (Use links to job listings)
    JOBTRAK, a leading job listing service.
    Omaha Career Resources


    IDEA: Stock market project HS
    For a stock market project or for resources to play the stock market game, see the Stock Market Game Page.
    The SMG2000 Web
      This is The Stock Market Gameā„¢ (SMG), the original stock market educational program that stimulates learning about economics, finance, and the American economic system. K-12 students use this in class under the auspices of their teacher for guided learning about economics.
    The National SMS Web
      The National Stock Market Simulation (SMS) is a tool that teachers can use to help instruct their students in the world of economics,finance, current events, math,social studies, and technology. K-12 students use this in class under the auspices of their teacher for guided learning.
    Stock Trak(TM) Stock Market Simulation
      STOCK-TRAK is a comprehensive financial markets simulation featuring: Stocks, Options, Futures, Mutual Funds, Bonds, and International Stocks. College students use this in class under the auspices of their teacher for guided learning.
    Stock Market Simulations--more info.
    EduStock--a great project with information about stock markets.
    Invest Smart to run a stock market simulation with your students.


    IDEA: Finance Projects (HS, College)
    Search bank web pages for the best CD or mortgage rates. Make a table and discuss total and monthly mortgage costs, etc. (using the mortgage calculation web page). Financial information of all kinds is available.
    OR use the interest rate charts and data to discuss the varieties of financial instruments and discuss why the interest rates are different for short and long term loans.
  • Finance Links
  • HOMESHARK finds the best interest rates for various kinds of mortgages. You can explore the effect of changing the length or type of mortgage.
  • WALL-STREET-NEWS ...FORECASTS
  • Form for Mortgage payment query
  • WOODROW Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis for charts of interest rates.
  • FRED Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis for lots of interest rate data.
  • Mutual of New York for lots of financial information,
  • NYU EDGAR Development Site for SEC Securities filings and corporate information.

  • IDEA: (All Levels) Consumer education information project.
    Lots of onsumer education information, such as credit laws, comparison shopping, how to complain, how to avoid fraud, teaching resources on personal finance for elementary and secondary.
    NICE (Consumer Education) HOME PAGE
    Information for small businesses


    IDEA: (All Levels) Find out what Congress is up to, and E-mail them your views.
    Find out what your congressional folks are up to, and send them e-mail:
    Thomas for legislative information. E-mail addresses are found at:
    Senators
    Representatives


    IDEA: (HS, College) Ask the experts.
    New Jersey Networking Infrastructure in Education: This site is set up to provide e-mail forms to ask questions of experts.
    Ask the Experts!


    IDEA: Friends and Partners with former USSR citizens.
    Friends and Partners is one of the first information services developed jointly by citizens of the United States and Russia. It now represents a community of people all over the world who provide information and communications services to promote better understanding, friendship and partnership between individuals and organizations of the United States (and, more broadly, "the west") and countries of the Former Soviet Union.
    Friends and Partners


    IDEA: (Grades K-4) Supporting project for Goat in the Rug lesson:

    Use the SPEC Goat in the Rug lesson in EcEdWeb K-12 Page as a basis for this Internet lesson. Find out about the rug inputs and materials on the Internet rather than using only the pictures that come with the lesson. Hint: Go to AltaVista search page and search for "carpet manufacturing." Be sure to take a look at
  • Articles at Carpetcomm


  • IDEA: (K-4) Use ZOO webs for zooconomy.
    Lots of ZOO information on the net! Use with zooconomy to have students search for information about zoos and about animals in them.
    Henry Doorly Zoo
    Zoo Animals
    Electronic Zoo Animal Home Page
    Electronic Zoo / NetVet - Zoo Animal Page


    More Resources for Secondary School Teachers of Economics: A List of Selected Internet Resources. for. Teachers of Economics in Secondary Schools. by Robert Dixon.
    Dixon's Page


    Have curricular materials you'd like to see on this web?
    Have a Web of interest to economics education? Please tell us about it!

    Maintained by Kim Sosin. Comment via email: ksosin at unomaha.edu