University of Passau’s classEx@school software gets pupils excited about economics
ClassEx@school is a software that allows students and pupils to experience economic concepts on their smartphones in the classroom. The web application is already being used by more than 80 schools in four countries.
If everyone wants as much as possible, they end up in a common pool dilemma. The software classEx@school playfully translates this somewhat unwieldy term into a smartphone experiment. In this game, the common pool resource is a fishpond, from which the pupils should catch as many fish as possible using their mobile phone. The insidious thing about the game is this: If all students choose the maximum number they can take, then the pond is empty. There are no fish left and the fish population cannot recuperate. Game over!
’ClassEx@school is a web application that allows students to experience economic models such as the common pool dilemma up close and personal with smartphones in the classroom’, explained Professor Johann Graf Lambsdorff, who holds the Chair of Economic Theory at the University of Passau. ‘The fact that students have to make their own decisions makes the models more accessible to them’, said Dr Marcus Antonio Giamattei.
Interactive experiments, quizzes and graphical illustrations of findings
The fishpond game mentioned above is but one example of these interactive experiments. Other experiments offered by classEx@school deal with concepts such as market price formation, the conflict between individual and collective interests or the occurrence of market failures. The software includes quizzes to test one’s learning progress. The web application instantaneously provides teachers with a graphical representation of the results, which can then be discussed directly in class – immediately after the students have made their own experiences with the models.
Increased usability aspects for teachers
Meanwhile, more than 80 schools in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Brazil experiment with classEx@school. ‘The feedback I get is very enthusiastic’, said project staff member Susanna Grundmann. In the current phase of the project – funded by the Joachim Herz Foundation – the classEx team will bring about further usability improvements for teachers. The project is also concerned with expanding on existing games and developing new ones, as well as harmonising and professionalising existing teaching materials. ‘That’s how we want to inspire even more schools and teachers to use classEx@school’, said Grundmann.
Worldwide classEx community engaged in programming and developing new experiments
The software classEx has been used successfully in lecture halls since 2012, as universities throughout the world have adopted the software. Some of them develop and program experiments themselves and subsequently share them in the classEx users’ community. Anyone interested in the software can set up an account from the classEx website.
The current project follows on from a previous one, also funded by the Joachim Herz Foundation, in which the research team of the University of Passau enhanced the existing classEx software for use in schools. That project established new application procedures and made visual and didactic adaptations for use in schools and, furthermore, created first teaching units.