Students today commonly use Twitter and Facebook and, therefore, they receive lots of information on a regular basis. Information comes to them in small bits many times each day. Therefore, the 48 to 72 hours between class meetings can seem like an eternity. It is little wonder that students often seem incapable of remembering what took place in the previous class meeting. The amount of correspondence they have received in the interim is probably massive.
I don’t use Twitter because I can’t write anything in 140 characters but I use email A LOT. I want to keep the students engaged in the period between my classes. I want them to think about Financial Accounting every day not just when they are walking into class.
The emails that I send to my students vary enormously from motivational to practice questions to simply informational. I often ask the students about these emails in class so they know they need to read them. Yesterday was our first class where we discussed ownership shares (of Apple) and the information that helps us assess the financial health and future prospects of a business. Today, I sent them the following email just as a follow-up to keep their attention on financial accounting and remind them why this topic can be of such importance to them.
Email sent to students on January 12, 2010:
I heard something on NPR this morning (yes, I do listen to NPR a lot) that I thought was interesting.
Because of its bankruptcy and bailout, ownership shares of General Motors are not sold on a stock market these days. The government owns most of the company.
However, they were talking with one of the company’s officials this morning and he said that he hoped the company would be able to have an IPO (initial public offering) prior to the end of 2010. If so, you could buy shares from General Motors and those shares would then start being sold from one investor to another on a stock market (most likely the New York Stock Exchange).
The announcer then asked the official: “would anyone want to invest in GM?” And, of course, that is our essential question. General Motors would just love to have your money for operations and growth but would you love to give it to them? Well, if you looked at the financial information that the company prepared and liked what you saw, then “yes” maybe you would love to give them your money. BUT you would want to look at that information carefully and you would need to know what you were seeing.
Investing is not for amateurs.
Our job in this class is not to tell you what to invest in or what other decisions to make.
Our job in this class is to help you learn to understand what the information reflects so you can make your own decisions.
Then, you can decide for yourself whether to buy GM’s stock when it comes out.