Do Investing Books Stack up Against Modern Online Education?

In light of the surge in remote-working and remote-educational platforms, to keep the world of work, schools and colleges afloat during the recent crisis, we should reflect upon what we’ve learned about the successes and limitations of online learning courses, when compared to more traditional ways of learning such as personal finance books.

An introduction to investing introductions

Learning about personal finance and the stock market is quite different to learning about geography, maths and science. Each of the topics I’ve just named, is included comprehensively in primary and secondary education worldwide.

This means that upon graduation from high school, all literate adults will have a reasonable background level of knowledge on these topics. Therefore any additional learning methods can happily place reliance on a high level of ‘assumed knowledge’ on the part of their audience.

Investing and stock market knowledge is totally different. Schools contribute only a small discretionary portion of the school year to teaching children and teenagers about financial topics. It’s often included in the personal, social, health, citizenship modules, but only briefly.

Naturally, teachers would want to be wary of ‘encouraging’ children to invest in assets that could be risky or lead to a financial loss. As a result, equities and corporate bonds are generally not taught at all in the education system.

This means that for many people, their introduction to financial topics occurs at a very late age, when their emotional and physical maturity is quite advanced, relative to other life skills such as cooking.

Investing books are no longer nouveau

Again the myriad of online educational resources, a simple book about personal finance has become quite an ‘old fashioned’ idea. Sales of books about investing are already dwindling (when measured against the size of the population), as we get much more of our knowledge online.

It’s ironic to see that in an age of information – the traditional store of information is asking suffering as a medium.

If a teenager was presented with two different gifts for their birthday, which do you think they would prefer:

  1. Access to an online-only, interactive money learning experience
  2. A book about how to save money

Which would fill them with the most joy? I’d strongly suggest that the answer is the first option, and I’m sure you will agree with me.

Online learning platforms have much to offer

These options are appealing to the younger generation for a reason – they’re appealing in general. As keen adopters of new things; they simply jump upon good ideas sooner because they’re less wedded to practises and traditions from the olden days.

Online platforms can create a far more immersive experience compared to a book, allowing the user to hone in on areas they’re interested – exploring some topics in more detail and others at a more cursory speed.

Online platforms sometimes gamify the nature of learning – using games, points and progress to further motivate the user through the experience. While some may look at such tools as manipulative or detracting from the pursuit of learning – I would argue that it actually transforms the practise of learning from being quiet, drab and linear, to being experiential, fun and dynamic.

For these reasons, I believe that books about investing will continue to survive as long as the older generations continue to favour this traditional medium. In the meantime, emerging technologies and user-friendly platforms will attract younger learners away from book shops and onto the world wide web to learn more about money.

Clare Louise