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Instructor Stories
  • Using Background Music to De-Stress and Build Community Among Online Students

    by Jim Wentworth | Apr 29, 2020

    I invited students to share their music suggestions to play when working on the course assignment. I shared some example links of music that had no vocals as starting examples. It led to a lively and happy discussion. I believe it helped relieve some of the student stress around COVID-19 and feelings of isolation.

    Some students shared music using Spotify and YouTube links and connected with each other.  It helped bring students together. Next time, I might include music recommendations from the course staff too!

    Lawrence Angrave is a CITL Fellow, a Gies RC Evans Innovation Fellow, and winner of numerous teaching awards.

  • Growing an Online Class

    by Jim Wentworth | Apr 29, 2020

    ACE240 is a popular personal finance course offered live an online. When I came onboard to Illinois in the Fall of 2017 we had 50 students enrolled. We were handed compass, textbook publisher slides and set out on a journey.  

    We have transformed ACE240 into an interactive class miles from where it was - as exhibited by feedback and growth. Primarily by utilizing Moodle platforms, working with CITL to create a series of 3-7 minute scripted videos, engaged student actors to record content and thoughtfully prioritized personal finance learning to be hands on and applied rather than taught by a traditional textbook. Additionally we have integrated NPR podcasts and video content in the area of personal finance to add additional perspectives.

    The department of ACE has experienced a boom of student interest in personal finance, financial wellness and financial planning. The Consumer Economic and Finance and Financial Planning concentrations have surged from 202 aggregate majors in the spring of 2016 to 322 in the spring of 2020. This 9.7% annualized growth rate eclipses that of the greater University system of 2.3% over the same time period . Interest in personal finance courses has surged as well, with ACE240 Personal Financial Planning moving from 590 students in the 2017-2018 academic year, 731 last year and is on pace to top 1,000 enrollments this year. Our online ACE240 has been rated in the top 95% of all classes offered in the UIUC system and as we continue to innovate we hope that will only increase.

    Students enjoy learning from students, but in a way that is constructive and fun. We've tried to create an impactful experience. I've learned so much from this journey and can not wait to embark on the same journey in ACE398 Risk Management and ACE445 Intermediate financial planning.

    Course Playlist on YouTube

    Craig Lemoine
    Director, Financial Planning Program and Clinical Associate Professor College of ACES, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics