Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome to Econ 490 Mailing to Students

Below is the general format of a message sent to each student currently registered in the class. If you haven't received your individualized version, please let me know.


Dear «First_name»:

Welcome to Econ 490, Behavioral Economics. I’m very glad to have you in my class. The main class Web site is an open blog. Open blogging is something I hope all (most) of you will be doing in the class. Please follow that link to find the syllabus, some other materials, and a few early posts including a presentation on Tipping as an economic activity that I’d like you to review before the first class session.

Because I’d like to encourage students to blog out in the open and I know students are leery about doing that, at least in part because they are concerned potential future employers will find their posts and that might hurt their chances of getting the job, I’m assigning each student a pseudonym to be used in your blogging and in writing comments on posts by me and other students. The schema we will use is that each student will be assigned the name of a famous economist and then based on that we’ll build a nickname that concatenates first and last name as well as Econ 490 and Spring 2011. Your particular assignment is below.

Economist: «First» «Last»

Nickname: «Nickname»

I know the Nickname is long, but it will autopost in your blogging and then in referring to the post in comments others can use a shorter form. Also, apologies that almost all the pseudonyms are male, so I made no attempt whatsoever to match your gender with them. I am suggesting that students use the freely available tool posterous (pronounced poster-us). It accommodates the nickname, allows for email as well as Web posting, and if you do use email it is very nice in converting attachments of images, documents, and media files so they can be viewed/listened to in the blog. So I encourage you to set up an account (you need some email address to use but it doesn’t have to be your university address). Once you’ve done that find your profile, enter your assigned Nickname and in the Bio box write something like “I am a student in Professor Arvan’s Econ 490 class and we are blogging under aliases, using the names of famous economists for that.” If you can do that before our Wednesday class session, then when you get into teams you’ll be ready to proceed with your team work.

Also, we will use the learning management system Moodle when we need to have private online communication. Moodle is also available as an alternative to Posterous for teams that want more privacy than Posterous can offer. To access Moodle the first time go here:


Log into our course site. You use your NetID and AD password to log in. If you have a problem with that, please let me know asap so we can correct it. I’ve been notified that they’ve had a glitch with auto-enrolling students. So once you do log in you will get the prompt to enter the enrollment key, which is here.

Enrollment Key: xxxxxx

You should only need to enter it the first time. If you can actually get into the site without entering the key, that’s fine (I hope). Please don’t share the key with other students.

There really isn’t much in the Moodle site at present. But one other thing it can be used for is to share actual profiles. Mine is there and you can read that. You can format your profile as you’d like. Alternatively, you may use the format I’ve adopted if you’d like. It is also your choice whether to include a photo, but please no goofy avatars. For me, the purpose of the profile is to help match the name with the face. You will be doing written work in your pseudonym but when we discuss that work face to face we’ll use real names. It would be nice to know you a bit in advance of those discussions. Your classmates also likely will want to match the name with the face.

See you on Wednesday.

Professor Arvan

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