Q&A: Billy Hensley, Director of Education, NEFE

Billy Hensley, Director of Education, NEFE

In addition to his responsibilities overseeing research, grants, and collegiate and consumer education at NEFE, Billy is an adjunct professor at the University of Louisville, where he teaches online courses.

DIGEST: What do you like about teaching online?

BH: I really like the fact that students don’t feel put on the spot to perform on demand. People can reply when it’s comfortable for them. Discussion boards, for example, are a great asset for different personality types. Everyone is asked to discuss the course concepts, but the way they discuss it and, to some extent, the time when they discuss it, is up to them.

DIGEST: What is challenging about it?

BH: The availability and functionality of the technology. If you’re using a learning management system, there are a couple of groups that you’re held captive by. For example, my students and I are at the mercy of the IT department at the university, the software developers that provide the platform, and the students’ aptitude for educational technology. Every semester I get emails from students saying, “my document was reformatted when I uploaded it,” or “the links aren’t working and I cannot get access to the assignment,” or “the quiz bumped me out and I can’t log back in.” There’s always an issue with at least one assignment or test.

When everything goes well, it’s great. But that one minute when a student is taking a quiz and the site goes down, then the student has to start over. Some of the issues are linked to user error, but for the most part, students are savvy and they can manage the course technology easily.

DIGEST: Where does technology fit into NEFE’s 5 Key Factors for Effective Financial Education?

BH: When we say “well-trained teacher,” it’s not just well trained in pedagogy and content, but also well trained in how to use the tools of instruction. Consider how many times you have sat in a room to watch a presentation when the presenter did not know how to get their PowerPoint presentation to go to the full screen mode or could not figure out how to connect to the Internet.

But the big one for me is evaluation. Technology enables instructors to evaluate knowledge gains, as well as changes and impacts on behavior, more efficiently than a paper-and-pencil test. Technology tools also help supplement learning and produce assignments that are engaging while preparing students for the workplace. But educators should always ask: Is the technology I’m using actually an obstacle to learning? Are students ready for it? — or, more likely — am I ready to efficiently and successfully use it?

“Educators should always ask: Is the technology I’m using actually an obstacle to learning? Am I ready to efficiently and successfully use it?”


DIGEST: In terms of technology, what are the opportunities for financial educators, specifically?

BH: Decisions about your finances need to be made throughout life, well beyond the traditional K-16 classroom setting and age. The opportunity is to demonstrate to learners that connecting to the subject with technology provides a way to learn and make informed decisions throughout life. If we utilize technology as a means to help learners become more competent in their ability to seek and vet information, to weigh pros and cons, and to track their own progress toward financial goals, we help build the expectation that financial education is not a one-time, classroom-based exercise, but a beginning. Health education is a good benchmark. There are so many people who use step counters and other health and fitness trackers. These tools are a culmination of not only the work of health educators, but of fitness advocates, counselors, business and industry. Whatever the fitness goal or message is, it seems that there are technological advances and online tools that help people track progress on a day-to-day or month-to-month basis.

For example, tools that encourage, coach and track finances are becoming more widespread. Although our community has been slower to adopt technological tools for educating people about finances, we should embrace appropriate technological opportunities for education, including ways to encourage a deeper level of engagement in personal finance beyond the classroom. If learners can continue to build upon the strong foundations that were started in classrooms and workshops with ease and convenience, they may be more likely to use resources like budget calculators or apps outside the classroom. As we gain more access to tools that help us measure progress and hold ourselves accountable to financial goals, as well as tools that help us weigh the pros and cons of financial products and services, we may see a broader adoption of financial literacy in technology and web-based arenas. Just like health education, I’d love to see more technological innovations that continue to build and refine the core concepts and elements of a financially healthy person. I’m very hopeful this will happen as we learn more about what motivates engagement and learning throughout life.

See the full Sept/Oct 2015 Digest or download the PDF.

Contacts

  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    [email protected]

Contacts

  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    [email protected]