Online Collaboration using Canvas and Google Docs
In the Summer Quarter 2016, I taught the Reiman Fund class (FIN 3710). This class actively manages a $275,000 equity fund that is part of the DU endowment. The primary goal of the class is to select sectors and stocks to outperform a benchmark, which in this case in the S&P MidCap 400 Index.
Students are required to recommend stock trades within the portfolio. These “pitches” are provided through presentations in class and involve extensive discussions about valuation and fit with our investment strategy. To provide a more enriching educational experience and give our students the best chance of outperforming the benchmark, I implemented curriculum changes to achieve the following objectives:
1. Encourage students to start this assignment early
Identifying undervalued investments involves outsmarting many of the brightest minds in the world. This task almost always involves more time and effort than students expect.
2. Provide students with feedback prior to the presentation
3. Develop student skills in providing constructive comments
4. Develop student skills in collaborating using in an online environment.
The specific curriculum change was to require students who are presenting the pitches to post a summary of their pitch (called a written stock report) at least 48 hours prior to their presentation. Students post these reports in Google Docs that I create within the Collaborations section of Canvas. The students who were not presenting are required to post comments on the presentations prior to the start of the class.
I also established guidelines for student comments. Comments need to directly relate to our evaluation of whether the stock fits our investment strategy. The feedback needs to better our understanding of the stock by providing information that is not in the stock report. Also, comments can be either a positive or negative aspect of the stock. If negative, the comments must be constructive critical. Students are required to express their opinion in a professional, respectful manner.
This curriculum change added significant value to the class. By providing students comments in a collaborative online environment, students learn from my comments on their peer’s work. The student presentations improved by getting feedback and suggestions prior to the presentation. The class votes on whether or not to implement the student recommendations with real money. Therefore, we all benefit from having the best possible presentations. Finally, the students gained experience in working in an increasingly popular approach of jointly editing online documents.