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Teaching Financial Literacy with Text

Ryan Laverty
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Many creators will write text message courses to teach new skills. Matt Jaekel, one of the first people to ever create a text message course, started out by delivering "Fun Facts" of the day to his high school students. In no time, they were actually asking to learn investing via text. We sat down with Matt to learn a little bit about his background and process for writing the course. Portions in italics are from Ryan, our head of content.

To take Matt's courses, head to: sac.arist.co

"My financial literacy course is the first text I read in the morning when getting ready for school"

Can you give us a quick background about yourself?

I'm currently a high school teacher at St Andrew's College in Aurora, Ontario. I teach AP Economics, run the Investment Club, and coach squash and tennis. In the past, I worked in wealth management at CIBC Wood Gundy and then pursued my vocation of teaching.

What made you want to write a text message course?

I showed the Arist program/website to my students as the "Fun Fact" of the day. They said it was a cool idea and would actually be interested to use something like that. I then contacted Arist and we started to create the course. I also created an Investing 101 course (students asked for it).

Matt was actually one of the first people to ever write a text message course. He reached out to us in the very early days of Arist, and we thought financial literacy sounded fascinating. It often takes people a little while to understand the concept. Matt got it right away, and that was inspiring for our entire team.

Tell us a little bit about your course. Who is it built for and why?

The course is built for high school students and adults that wish to be educated about money, saving, investing, credit cards, car payments, and all things personal finance. It's also a tool to give the "student" the financial literacy (understanding) and skills to be able to look after themselves. Unfortunately, these skills are not covered enough in school, especially if you don't take grade 11 or 12 business courses. And if they are, they are boring, from a textbook, out of date, and hard to relate to.

Matt's initial story about students not learning financial literacy is one we hear a lot. It's often very difficult for teachers to get control over what kinds of curriculum they teach if they're in a subject that's not being tested for by state or country standards. Additionally, many American adults still feel like they aren't as financially literate as they'd like to be. Matt's initiative was very inspiring.

What is one thing you learned or found helpful while writing this course?

The Arist team helped a lot with the editing process.  It takes time to word things well when writing with a smaller amount of characters. This way, every sentence has a purpose and is meaningful to the student for learning.  Also, the links that are added for additional resources were very important to embed.

How are you measuring success with your learners? Any feedback so far?

I've created assignments based on the Arist text message course guides.  I use things like a "money notebook" with sections for different topics that the course focuses on. The students then use what they learned with their own financial goals to produce a financial planning portfolio that I can assess and they can use for their real scenarios. They even complete surveys so I can see what's the best part and what parts that I can improve and adjust.

Are you planning on writing additional courses? If so, on which subjects and why?

I already have! Investing 101. It's the perfect compliment to people who just took the financial literacy course, and is used in the investment club that I run at school.

If you could take a text message course on anything, it would be…

I already made it on my two favorite topics.  If I were to create a new one, my ideas would be environmental economics and AP Econ (micro and macro) study month aid.

What piece of advice would you give to anyone looking to create their first text message course?

I was able to fly through my first draft. But to get it right, it took time to edit to make it an excellent resource. Arist was a big part of that. I'm not an English teacher, so being supported by the Arist editing team was a big plus.

I'll add my own two cents that Matt is underselling himself here - he's a skilled writer and educator! Nonetheless, everyone needs practice to make courses that are as short as possible. Luckily, that's where our content guides come in.

Any other thoughts, comments, or things we should know?

If you love teaching, and want to be able to teach larger groups, especially ones that are apart of more vulnerable populations and have the opportunity to connect with organizations to use your work in a special way, the Arist text message platform is something that is going to continue to grow and be implemented in these groups.

To be featured as a creator in our blogs, just head to: lrn.st/blog. To take Matt's courses, visit his classroom at: sac.arist.co

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