Teachers' Guide - Using the Virtual Economy for Teaching Economics
The Virtual Economy could be used in a variety of ways to support teaching. It could be used simply to encourage research. Students could be asked to research particular topics / issues. For example they could research:
- neo-classical economic theory
- the effect of taxation on the incentive to work
- the work of Keynesian economists
- the effect of the business cycle on the PSNCR
- the impact of tax changes on the redistribution of income
The research could take the form of experimentation with the model as well as research in the library and other areas. The areas most likely to be helpful for research will be the 2nd floor - Economic Policy (which has explanations and theories associated with every variable) and the 3rd floor - Library (which has details of all economic theory, the work of famous economists and a full glossary).
The model could also be used as part of work set for students. There are printable worksheets available on the Economic Policy floor. These printable worksheets have a small printer icon beside them. Clicking on it will give a version of the worksheet that has lines and spaces for filling in answers. All worksheets expect students to use the model for a part of the time to experiment and see if the theory works in practice. Students are expected to research in other areas of the Virtual Economy for information.
The materials could be used for self-paced study. Students could gradually work through sections researching relevant theories, doing worksheets and experimenting with different policies on the model.
Teachers and lecturers may want to use the model for classroom experimentation. If there is an Internet connection, then it would be possible to use the model as a basis for discussion with classes. Students could suggest policies and try to predict the outcome of them. The policies can then be tried on the model to see how good their predictions were. Students could do this individually or in groups as well. Different groups could be set different targets, and they could see how easily they can meet them. This also should help to provide a basis for discussion.
We would recommend that initially students are encouraged to use the selected variables input form. This has fewer variables to change and once they have gained confidence with it they can then move on to the more complex input form with all variables. Both of these methods of input use the same model, and so will give the same results.