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Australian Bank Combines Virtual Reality and Financial Literacy Education to Teach Students Money Management Skills

Australian Bank Combines Virtual Reality and Financial Literacy Education to Teach Students Money Management Skills

Can adding the excitement of virtual reality to financial literacy education help more students learn important money management skills?

An Australian bank is determined to find out.

CommBank is reinventing its Start Smart financial education program, which according to Finextra has reached over two million students, to now include a virtual reality component designed to grab students’ attention.

"During a two month pilot, around 1500 primary school students will take part in normal Start Smart lessons but also take home a pack containing a VR headset called the Teleporter and a storybook called Sammy the Space Koala, written by Australian children’s author Ursula Dubosarsky,” said Finextra.

The pilot program will be something of interest to educators all over the world as it determines if the interactive educational experience virtual reality will have a positive impact on typically hard-to-teach subjects like financial literacy.

In the U.S., schools struggle to integrate financial literacy education into already-overloaded curriculums. Since most states do not have any requirements that students need to take personal finance classes before graduation, many students go through the K-12 system without any financial education at all.

As a result, repeated surveys have found that a lack of K-12 financial literacy education in the U.S. is a missed opportunity to teach students how to be financially responsible later on in life.

On last year's National Financial Capability Study, out of 27,564 Americans surveyed, 61 percent could not get 3 out of 5 money-related questions correct. The study indicated that this lack of financial knowledge is correlated to trends of unpaid medical debts and late mortgage payments. 

U.S. educators have repeatedly expressed interest in teaching students financial literacy skills but lack the resources to do so.

A survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 92 percent of educators surveyed believe financial literacy is an important skill not being taught in schools. The survey also found that as of April 2016, only 12 percent of teachers are addressing financial literacy in their lesson plans.

CommBank’s new strategy for teaching Australian students financial literacy skills is something that U.S. educators might want to keep an eye on; CommBank’s new virtual reality materials are meant for at-home use thanks to easy-to-understand instructions that help "parents and carers to download a free Teleporter app to their smartphones, which are then inserted into the headsets to start the virtual reality portion of the adventure.”

Such a resource would help educators provide students with an exciting form of financial literacy education without taking away from designated classroom time.

Read more about CommBank’s new efforts here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

10/10/2016

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