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Building Teaching Capabilities:

Online Teaching

Synchronous online teaching:

· Interactive classes using video conference software such as Zoom or Skype.

· It’s possible to record the class for students to watch later.

· MQ Global MBA teachers uses Zoom. The wider uni does not have premium accounts for everyone so far.

Asynchronous online teaching:

· Non-interactive classes using video recording software.

· MQ uni already has Echo360 which can be installed on your laptop and recorded at home! Easy to upload to ilearn too.

Benevolent Leaders’ Themes for the Future on a Hat

Benevolent Leaders’ Themes for the Future on a Hat

Experiences from Global MBA

· Taught ‘Know Your Numbers 2’ with help of David Pitt, Roger Casey, Poon Leung, Amer Khan and Billy Bruce.

· Basic corporate finance course: NPV, business valuation.

· 1 hour synchronous classes every week for 6 weeks. Extra classes offered before assignments due.

· 30 minutes of pre-recorded videos for students to watch before class per week.

· 20 students enrolled, average age around 40. Half from Australia, others from US, Vietnam, South Africa, Germany and Italy.

· Used Zoom video conference software that allows interaction with students.

· Heavily focused on MS Excel spreadsheets.

· Most of the class time was spent screen sharing.

· Assessments: two individual spreadsheet assignments

· Value a property and do loan calculations (40%);

· Value a startup business (60%).

Positive aspect: Individual assignment based on real case

· Feedback: “I thought all the assessments covered the unit's learning with assignments based on real-life situations”

· All students given the same question, but they were forced to choose different properties or companies to analyse, which they picked themselves.

· Students had totally different input numbers.

· Little incentive to share files which is plagiarism.

· Lots of incentive to share techniques and sources in the classes and forums, which is good collaboration.

Individual assignment 1

Question 1: Find a competitive interest rate on a P&I loan in your country…

Question 2: Find the inflation rate in your country…

Question 3: Find a commercial property for sale such as an office or warehouse. Include a screenshot of the price and provide a link to the source.

Question 4: Make a spreadsheet showing the value of the loan liability and the property asset every month…

Question 5: Copy the table made in the previous question, but vary your answer based on a surprise interest rate cut by the central bank which lowers interest rates per annum by 0.24 percentage points…

Individual assignment 2

Value a project of your own choosing. It can be a startup that you wish to begin, a small business that you wish to purchase or an existing or potential project within your workplace that you would like to explore or are already working in.

Question 1: Make a table of the project details & assumptions…

Question 2: Estimate the operating free cash flows...

Question 3: Estimate the WACC.

Question 4, 5 & 6: Find the NPV, IRR & PBP of the business...

Question 7: Find the lowest level of sales at which the project has zero NPV.

Question 8: Conduct a sensitivity analysis on the NPV…

Positive aspect: Assignment freedom

· No limits on the data the student can use & the depth they should investigate.

· Many students liked this:

· “The assignment was as challenging as we wanted it to be which was a plus…”

· “Very well organised with the expectations for the assessment criteria. More units should be like this.”

· “Very clear, black and white.”

Negative aspect: Assignment freedom

· Some students didn’t like this:

· “There was a bit of a disconnect between what was necessary to learn and what is useful to learn for the assignment. It is understandable for a course this short.”

· “Great flexibility with the assignment which can become a difficult assignment to manage when advanced Excel skills are needed”

Positive aspect: Live classes focused on completing assignments

· Feedback: “Were it not for the face-to-face video, it would have been impossible to complete this course”.

· Teacher solved the assignment for a particular company in the live class.

· Showed which techniques and sources are useful, without telling students exactly how they should analyse their particular case which is likely to be significantly different.

· Students and teacher asked questions which was helpful for everyone to hear.

· Feedback: “good energy with constant questions to the group to enhance the learnings. I have learned a lot.”

Negative aspect: Student copied toy example provided by teacher

· Made clear that:

· Students who regurgitate the exact same techniques and sources will fail or score poorly.

· Teacher-led demonstration shows the minimum level of detail and research expected.

· Unfortunately one student ignored the warning and submitted the provided example with the same small number of inputs and low complexity. He failed the assignment and course.

· He later admitted that didn’t watch the live classes.

Difficulty Improvising in Live Classes

· Particularly hard for teachers to:

· Draw diagrams with a mouse; and

· Write formulas in software, compared to a whiteboard.

· Learned to have diagrams and formulas written up and showing in a browser tab or Word doc prior to class so I could just point them out.

· Perhaps I should have used a tablet and stylus, but these might have introduced more glitches.

Online Test Glitches: Lack of quality control

· The private (paid) version of the course ran fine, but no students finished the public version of the course:

· Two students posted on the Coursera forum that the correct answer on a test was being marked as incorrect.

· This erroneous test required full marks to pass!

· Caused by lack of testing in the free public version.

· Lesson: Do Q.C. and monitor the public forum.

Online Test Glitches: Rounding problems

· After fixing up the problematic test, I was still getting some answers wrong!

· My spreadsheet solution was, say, 0.11333, but the Coursera test question only accepted answers as percentages to 2dp.

· So the correct answer was 11.33 and my answers of 0.11333 and even 11.333 were being marked as wrong.

· Fixed problem by changing the test question to accept a range of answer inputs from 11 to 11.4 or 0.11 to 0.114.

Helpful: Ctrl-Tilde to Debug Spreadsheets

· Ctrl-tilde (~) shows the underlying formulas in all cells in MS Excel.

· During the live class when the teacher is working through a spreadsheet, pressing ctrl-tilde helps students debug their own work, especially for the common error of entering hard-coded values rather than formulas.

· Tap Ctrl-Tilde again to switch back to the normal view.

Maintaining Engagement and Connection to the ‘Real World’

· At start of class, explain why topic is exciting and unfolding in the real world right now to motivate discussions.

· For example, past or imminent central bank interest rate decisions, merger announcements, bankruptcies, bubbles.

· A picture says a thousand words. Use real graphs to explain phenomena, such as:

· RBA chart pack: https://www.rba.gov.au/chart-pack/interest-rates.html

· US Fed FRED: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/USSTHPI

· Google image search for graphs and then right click, 'open image in new tab' then zoom with ctrl-mouse scroll to show graph in full.

· Build a collection of articles and videos that students can relate to. My favourites:

· Poljak, Vesna. “It's all about interest rates: Hamish Douglass.” Australian Financial Review, 19 July 2019.

· Slater, Chad. “Why duration is the least understood word in finance” Australian Financial Review, 15 October 2017.

· Lowe, Philip. “Some Echoes of Melville”, speech presented for the Sir Leslie Melville Lecture, Canberra Australia, 29 October 2019.

Faster Marking

· Ask students to submit their numerical assignment answers in graph form.

· Can be marked very quickly at a glance, compared to marking individual numbers.

· Ask students to write yes or no, agree or disagree in the first word of their answer, before asking them to explain why.

· Can speed marking of questions where there is a black or white answer.


· Maintain participation and engagement by learning a little about the students' work or background to ask them to explain when the theory applied in their workplace or personal life.


· When using formulas to solve problems, write the equation at the top in symbols then repeat it below with input numbers written directly under the symbols, which makes it obvious where figures go inside the formula and re-enforces what the symbols mean.

A saying from software engineering:

‘Eat Your Own Dog Food’

· Best to do the assignment yourself before the students try it, so you’re aware of the problems.

· For example, teachers have asked students to:

· Download Australian share price data from yahoo finance where the price history showed trading on Sunday.

· To do a basic Markowitz mean-variance