Learning with WinEcon

The WinEcon software can be used as a stand alone learning package or in conjunction with the networked software that the institution may be using.

Screenshot of 4.2 Production Methods    

WinEcon offers more than 75 hours of tutorial material and includes: course relevant theory, interactive exercises, self-assessment questions, economic databases and an economic glossary.

WinEcon also has its own Virtual Tutor to guide the student through the topics and exercises when they are unable to call on their tutor's help.

In this way WinEcon offers a fully supported learning environment for students using WinEcon as a stand alone teaching product or again when doing homework, assignments or revision, or when working as a distance learner.

Many institutions are using links to WinEcon in their Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) such as Blackboard, Moodle or Sakai or in their course notes in Word or PowerPoint. This allows students using WinEcon to enhance their understanding by linking quickly and easily from their tutor's course notes directly to the appropriate topic in WinEcon. Here they can then use the interactive tutorials to make changes to diagrams and graphs one step at a time and see the impact of the changes they make. Or their tutor's course notes may direct the student to a quiz, for instance. This interactive approach to learning is invaluable in helping the student to understand the analysis.

If used by their institution, students can work on the Local Area Network (LAN) to access the networked software. However, the student may also wish to install WinEcon onto their own machine so that they can continue to access their tutor's Web links to WinEcon if working on their own machine, away from the LAN. Furthermore, with WinEcon installed on the student's machine, these Web links to WinEcon from their tutor's downloaded course notes can be accessed whilst working off line. This is a major benefit to students working at home on assignments, homework or revision or for distance learners.

Practicalities of using WinEcon

WinEcon is an innovative, highly graphical, self-paced, interactive software package for the teaching and learning of introductory and business economics. It consists of a series of chapters each divided into sections and topics containing on-screen tutorials which the student can explore.

The Topics

Screenshot 2.5 Price Elasticity    

Each topic will contain a number of Text Cards which you step through by clicking the next card and previous card arrows. These cards may also include interactive quizzes, graphs or diagrams which can be worked through and then reset.

Some Text Cards will have a SHOW button. Clicking this will reveal further information about the concept which has just been explained in the card.

Tailoring the tutorials to suit your ability

WinEcon allows you to tailor your learning to suit your individual strengths and weaknesses. The More and Advanced buttons allow you to access further information about a concept if you feel it needs more explanantion, or to gain more advanced information about the topic if you wish to take your understanding further. And the Virtual Tutor is always there to guide you through the course.

Navigating your way through WinEcon

Screenshot of WinEcon student navigation    

WinEcon has been designed to allow you to work at your own pace in a user-friendly environment that requires no computer knowledge.

Highlighted buttons and the flashing Next Page button suggest the most likely thing to do next and the Virtual Tutor is always on hand to give you instructions on what you should do next.

From the startup Courses page of WinEcon you can go straight to the Contents, the Quizzes, the Tools or the Instruction screens. The Instructions give an overview of how to use the software and can be easily accessed form any point in WinEcon by a simple click of a button, as can the Tools. Navigational buttons also allow you to select Previous or Next page, or go directly back to the page you came from if you have left a topic to access a quiz or a tool, for instance, or to return to the Contents page.

The Contents page lists all the Chapters, Sections and Topics contained in the WinEcon Introductory Economics course.

Screenshot of WinEcon student tutorial contents    

From the Contents page you can access any topic screen. This is ideal for research, revision or for using WinEcon in conjunction with your tutor-guided course work.

For self-guided study you may wish to access a particular Chapter and then work methodically through this chapter using the on screen instructions. However, if you come across a topic which you do not wish to work through you can easily skip to the next one.

Each Chapter and Topic Section has an Introduction and a Summary which can be accessed directly if requiring a synopsis of the subject matter covered. If working through methodically the Introduction and Summary screens are accessed at the start and finish of each Chapter and Section, but again can be skipped if preferred.

The Chapter Introductions discuss the topics covered within each chapter whilst the Section Introductions focus on the learning aims of the course material that will be covered in each topic and can be used as an overview. Likewise, the Chapter and Section Summaries re-emphasise the material covered and what has been learned from the topic material covered.

Using WinEcon as a Revision Guide

The navigational flexibilty built into WinEcon makes the software ideal for dipping into topics for revision purposes. Plus the quizzes, interactive exercises, self-assessment questions, graphs and diagrams are all designed to make revision fun and interesting. The very visual nature of the way in which analysis is explored helps to reinforce ideas and concepts so that they are more easily retained and, most importantly, remembered when needed during the examination process.

The Introductions for each chapter and section can be used as an overview and are an excellent way to use WinEcon as a revision guide. They can also be used effectively when planning homework or assignments guiding the student through the key concepts in any particular topic area.

The Tools

The Tools tab or the Tools option from the WinEcon button displayed on every topic page will give you access to the Calculator, the Glossary and the Notebook. Alternatively, you can right-mouse click anywhere in WinEcon to display the tools option.

Screenshot of student Tools    

The Glossary allows you to find the definition of the economic terms in the WinEcon glossary. Additionally right-clicking on a word anywhere in WinEcon and selecting the Glossary will allow you to search for a definition of that word.

The Notebook allows you to make your own notes from any page in WinEcon and save them to disk. Again this can be very useful if you later use these notes for revision, assignments or homework.

The Calculator has been customised for economics and has a COPY button which allows you to copy the result of your calculations into the tutorial page.

Using WinEcon in various learning scenarios

WinEcon can be used in many different teaching and learning environments:

  • Self-directed Study
    Students plan their own programme of study, guided, if necessary, by the virtual tutor.
  • Directed Study in Student's Own Time
    The tutor may assign particular modules or parts of modules to be completed by students. The on-screen 'tutor' acts as the first-line tutor, with the real tutor available later through workshops, live tutorials or online. The assigned work may be accessed via the teachers Web-links in their course notes.
  • Directed Study in Tutorials
    The tutor may use the Web-linking features of WinEcon to integrate the courseware into their Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) such as Blackboard™ and WebCT™. Or they may use WinEcon in their PowerPoint™ or Word™ documents.
  • Pre-sessional or Back-up Work
    Students use WinEcon as a means for preparation for a course in economics. Tutors may specify which modules are required to provide the necessary foundation for the course.
  • Preparatory / Preliminary Work for Classes
    Students work through modules before attending lectures or seminars or doing assigned reading. This allows students to get more from their classes or reading.
  • Complementary Reading
    Students use WinEcon as a back-up to their reading or as a preliminary to it.
  • Revision
    Students can work through material again and test themselves.They can dip into topics directly or use the Introductions and Summaries for a quick synopsis.
  • Dabbling
    Students browsing can gain an interest in the subject and an appetite for discovering more.
  • Pre-sessional or Back-up Work for Direct Entrants to the Second Level of Courses
    Admissions tutors may operate a flexible admissions policy by using WinEcon to substitute for level one modules.