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Pros: The lessons break down complex topics into manageable, relevant activities. The visual design is great.
Cons: Students with little or no financial background knowledge may struggle.
Bottom Line: These well-organized modules use a learner-centered, game-based approach to make investing and finance feel relatable.
Teachers can have lots of fun with Marketplaces lessons in the classroom. After students learn basics about the business and economics, teachers might challenge individuals or groups of students to come up with their own idea for a startup, including details about who they'd hire and how they'd secure financing. Ask students to explain how their businesses would move from startup to IPO status, the different avenues they'd explore to fund their enterprises, and what plans they'd make to ride out economic downturns. Hearing ideas from their classmates might help a future entrepreneur or two to kick-start their career. Along the way, use the site's pile of information and ideas to provide additional classroom support. At the end, make a game of seeing who can save the most toward retirement through simulated opportunities and investment decisions.
One caveat: No matter what your students' backgrounds are, it's important to teach students about wealth disparity alongside Marketplace's lessons. Students who are at a socioeconomic disadvantage are unlikely to have a family member leave them a $250,000 inheritance to invest as the Investment Game suggests. So while students can still learn about the importance of saving money for the future, the lessons are incomplete without that perspective. While the modules provide an excellent opportunity to learn about wealth building, they also offer opportunities to discuss how we, as a country, can do more to ensure that everyone has access to enough resources to pursue their goals and ambitions.
EVERFI's Marketplaces is a series of interactive lessons focused on the world of finance, the stock market, and investing. The five lesson modules include "Marketplaces," "The Economy," "Startup to IPO," "Keys to Investing," and "Investment Game." In these modules, students learn how national and global events impact markets, how the economy affects hiring and business, and what people in finance careers do. Additionally, students learn how to start, fund, and grow a business. The experience ends with a game where students try to maximize retirement savings through short- and long-term investments. Each module begins and ends with a short quiz to see how well students understand or can recall the concepts covered in the lessons. Different simulations and games along the way assess how well students have grasped the content, which ranges from fairly simple to quite complex.
The lessons do a nice job of balancing information and interactive activities, but students can't go back to certain questions or games. This means that if students accidentally click on an activity they've already completed or want a second chance at it, they may have to redo part of the lesson. Teachers have access to supplemental resources, such as full lesson plans and informational resources that complement the lessons. Teachers can also monitor student progress in terms of how far along they are and final quiz grades, but they cannot view student responses for specific activities.
Marketplaces is designed to get young adults thinking about smart financial strategies. Students who have a limited interest in, or understanding of, economics learn to consider the benefits and risks of stocks, bonds, money market, and cash equivalent investments. Motivated, business-minded students will enjoy learning how businesses are funded, and about the progression from a small business to a large, publicly held corporation. Of course, in a 20-minute lesson, students aren't going to get into the myriad details of the mountains of paperwork and teams of lawyers it takes to build the next Amazon or Alphabet, but it's fun to consider the possibilities, nonetheless.
The active learning in the modules encourages students to make decisions and consider their consequences. Even if students don't have a strong grasp of economic concepts, the lessons and classroom discussions can get them thinking about and planning for the future. While it's fun to become a digital millionaire in mere minutes, the real benefits take hold when students develop stronger social and emotional skills -- including self-control, patience, and empathy for others who aren't as fortunate -- alongside the will to advocate for more just economic policies and systems. On this note, it's unfortunate that Marketplaces doesn't fully investigate the structural disparities and barriers that prevent some from participating in the financial market, not to mention how finance is complicit in these disparities. Teachers could take this program to the next level by adding that context.