# Developing Interactives for Online Courses

Chris Makler

econgraphs.org

## Outline

• Introductions and Motivations
• Show and Tell
• Design Process
• Technical Implementation

# Introductions

## My Journey Here

• Ph.D. in Economics (University of Pennsylvania, 2005)
• 10 years in ed tech industry:
• startup (Aplia)
• publisher (Cengage)
• research instute (SRI International)
• Takeaways:
• Interactives are extremely useful
• Nobody is willing to pay for them
• But, they're not that hard to make
• I left the ed tech industry to return to teaching at Stanford,
and created EconGraphs as a public good
• Developed a framework, Kinetic Graphs JavaScript (KGJS), to create interactive graphs
• Created 300+ graphs for my own courses; published them on EconGraphs
• Developed interactives for other people using KGJS, taught others to use KGJS

# Show and Tell

## Challenges I Faced in Teaching Economics

1. Showing how a graph changes
2. Showing multiple graphs simultaneously
3. Showing causal relationships
4. Staying focused on the econ (not the math)

## Reason 1: Showing How a Graph Changes

p
q

The total revenue is the price times quantity (area of the rectangle)

\text{Demand curve facing the firm}

Classic Econ Example: Decomposing Marginal Revenue

p
\text{Demand curve facing the firm}
q

If the firm wants to sell more units, it needs to drop its price

Revenue loss from lowering the price

Classic Econ Example: Decomposing Marginal Revenue

The total revenue is the price times quantity (area of the rectangle)

Comparative statics question:
how do the relative sizes of the red and green rectangles change as the firm increases its output?

## Reason 2: Show Simultaneous Changes in Multiple Graphs

Multiple graphs in a single interactive diagram can be useful for two reasons:

(1) show the relationship between two models

Multiple graphs in a single interactive diagram can be useful for two reasons:

(2) show multiple representations of the same phenomenon

## Reason 3: Showing Cause and Effect

• How do price-taking consumers and firms respond to changes in prices in the supply and demand model? How do the equilibrium price and quantity respond to changes in demand/supply shifters?

## How do I use EconGraphs?

Phase I: developed interactive diagrams for use in lecture

Phase II: incorporated diagrams into an online interactive textbook

Phase III: building exercises that use diagrams instead of math
(joint work with Doug McKee at Cornell and
Simon Halliday & Anastasia Papadolou at Bristol)

[ TEACHER-LED LEARNING ]

[  INDEPENDENT LEARNING ]

[  ASSESSMENT ]

## Ways to Incorporate Into Assessments

• Provide a link to an interactive, and have students check a box saying they've done it ("check your understanding")
• Ask a question within a CMS (Canvas, H5P, etc) with a link to an interactive tool that can be used to answer the question. (Can send randomized parameters...)
• Embed the tool directly within the CMS
• Students are graded on how they interact with the tool

Difficulty/ Complexity

# Design Process

• Be clear on the problem you're trying to solve
• What is the teaching/learning challenge?
• How does interactivity help surmount that challenge?
• Think from the perspective of the user, not the content itself.
• Is it being "driven" by a teacher or a learner?
• What do you want that person to do with it?
• Should it be narrowly focused or a playground/sandbox?
• You have a budget!
• These are expensive to build and require a lot of cognitive investment
• Focus on the highest "bang for your buck"

# Fundamental Design Principles

(I doubt these are news to anyone in this room, but still...)

• Go broad here. Many challenges are ill-suited for interactives.
• Search for things that are difficult, but in a way that an interactive approach might help with.
• Walk me through how you think about that. What connections do you see that your students don't? What "a-ha" moment do they need to have?
• Be thinking here about what actions a learner needs to take to get a deeper understanding of what's going on
• What prevents students from achieving mastery?
• Do they get hung up on math? Or do they just want to "plug and chug?"

# Brainstorming and Inspiration

## Brainstorming Session

• How might disciplinary knowledge and interactive media complement one another?

• How might interactive media be used to their fullest potential within an online learning situation? (i.e., making the most of a potentially limited feature set)

• What strategies do learning designers use when considering the placement of interactives in courses? When does it make sense? Where? Why?

• How might we abstract and apply what we know about interactive media design to new contexts (e.g., XR stage)?