Econ profs team with publisher to develop all-digital course

CBA professors Roger Butters (left) and Carlos Asarta are working with McGraw-Hill to develop a digital curriculum for economics.
CBA professors Roger Butters (left) and Carlos Asarta are working with McGraw-Hill to develop a digital curriculum for economics.

Introductory economics courses at colleges and universities will soon be taking a giant step forward in the digital age. McGraw-Hill Higher Education and UNL are developing the first fully digital curriculum for economics.

The curriculum, offered in English and Spanish, will feature a range of multimedia components and will be functional on McGraw-Hill's course management platform, Connect, and through a variety of other learning management systems. When published in 2014, UNL students may have access to the Connect course through UNL's Blackboard course-delivery platform.

Sold by subscription, the curriculum will include McGraw-Hill's adaptive learning tools that determine a student's subject-area strengths and weaknesses, videos for each learning objective, online assessments, an interactive digital workbook, and a revolutionary smart device app to deliver the course on mobile devices.

The authors of the course are College of Business Administration economics professors Roger Butters and Carlos Asarta. Both have experience in teaching introductory courses and economics curriculum design. Butters lectures on economics and international finance around the world, and is the president of the Nebraska Council on Economic Education, a statewide initiative to advance economic literacy. Asarta teaches principles of economics and intermediate courses and has received numerous university teaching awards.

Butters and Asarta are focused on expanding economics education through digital innovation.

"Through our partnership with McGraw-Hill, we have a terrific opportunity to provide students with an extremely engaging introduction to college-level economics," said Butters. "Understanding the basic principles of economics is critical for every student today, regardless of their future plans. This all-digital curriculum will ensure that each student is successfully grounded in those principles."

Butters and Asarta are creating every element of the curriculum by learning objective, grouped by topic areas, enabling instructors to choose when, where and how they will teach each concept. With the all-digital teaching resources, instructors have all the tools they need to teach in a dynamic, engaging and interactive digital and in-class environment. Adaptive assessment technology will be used to monitor student progress toward each learning objective.

Butters said he and Asarta pitched the idea to McGraw-Hill after developing the concept as a way to give students better access to materials and engage students in a more meaningful way, and to make available to economics teachers content that serves their students' needs on Web and mobile platforms.

"(Online education and course content delivery) is the future," Butters said, adding that the project will be a lot of work but is worth the effort because students and instructors are needing more access to innovative course materials.

"We're very excited to partner with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to build this innovative digital curriculum from the ground up," said Brian Kibby, president of McGraw-Hill Higher Education. "We have a long and successful history with the university in the development of authoritative economics content. We both realize the power of digital tools in education, and we’re taking the steps to incorporate technology in the way we develop, teach and access content."

McGraw-Hill and the university are employing a new "digital first" development strategy with this economics curriculum, in which every component is developed specifically for an online learning environment. McGraw-Hill plans to leverage the digital first product development strategy for a number of other academic subject areas in the near future.