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Release: Oct. 4, 2000

Business professors win President's Award for Technology Innovation

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Business professors Joyce Berg and Forrest Nelson were awarded the 2000 University of Iowa President's Award for Technology Innovation, which recognizes the most creative use of technology in teaching in the past year.

Runner-up for the award was Steve Beck, a computer consultant in the UI Image Analysis Facility, for his work developing computer-based modeling courses for students in a variety of disciplines.

Berg, an accounting professor, and Nelson, an economics professor in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business, won the award for their development of web-based computer software used to conduct electronic markets and the back office needed to support them. That software is used by faculty at the University of Iowa as well as faculty at many other colleges and universities across the nation to integrate hands-on market experience into business and economics classrooms.

The software developed by Berg and Nelson is used by the Tippie College of Business's Iowa Electronic Markets (IEM), real-money futures markets where students can trade shares based on future events, such as presidential elections, a company's quarterly earnings, a corporation's stock price, or a movie's box office receipts. The web site for the IEM is at

Students at more than 100 schools worldwide, as well as students at the University of Iowa, have used the IEM to enhance their classroom experience. "They are learning economics in much the same way as labs are used in teaching other sciences. This helps overcome the abstract nature of economics while giving students incentives to learn technical concepts," Berg said.

"By using the IEM, students move out of a traditional classroom setting into a hands-on laboratory where they experience real market forces," Nelson added.

UI President Mary Sue Coleman said the IEM project is notable for its impact on how instructors teach and how learners learn, its broad application to a number of subjects and across institutions, and its links between course-based learning and workplace applications.

In recommending Berg and Nelson for the award, UI business alumnus Shane Cropper said the project allows students to get "direct experience with very little risk" in the way financial markets work and the skills needed to work with them.

Because their web-based trading software allows anyone with access to the Internet to have access to a classroom market, faculty can introduce electronic markets into their classroom without investing in the overhead needed to support in-house real-time electronic markets. That means students traditionally disadvantaged in access to technology can also participate in the markets. A $459,798 grant from the National Science Foundation will fund development of curricula intended to promote economic literacy through use of the IEM. Some 30 four-year colleges serving minority populations and rural community colleges across the U.S. will join faculty at the Tippie College of Business in this development. "We are very excited about this project. Creative use of technology is one of the ways that we, as faculty at the University of Iowa, have a positive impact on the world outside of Iowa City," said Berg and Nelson.

Coleman presented the award to Berg and Nelson, who will split a $3,000 cash prize, at the annual University Convocation held last night.