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Money Smart News - Fall 2004

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Interactive Computer-Based Money Smart Launched

On September 15, the FDIC announced the launch of an interactive computer-based version of Money Smart. The new version is available - in English and Spanish - both as a stand-alone CD-ROM and on the FDIC's Web site at

This "next generation" of Money Smart contains the same 10 modules (sections) as the original Money Smart, which was designed for classroom use. The new version can complement formal classes, serve as a refresher, or enable people to study independently.

Donna Gambrell, Deputy Director of the FDIC's Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection, explained that "the Money Smart interactive computer-based instruction will enable the FDIC to reach even more people using an exciting technology that will stimulate students' interests." In addition, the computer-based version can enhance classroom lessons in the original version.

From the September 15 launch of the Money Smart CBI through October 9, the FDIC received 890 orders for the English version and 328 orders for the Spanish version.

Photo Essay: Money Smart Computer-Based Instruction Roll-Out

Money Smart CBI: Questions and Answers

1. How does the Money Smart CBI work?

The Money Smart CBI contains all the information covered by the original Money Smart, which was designed for classroom use. An online instructor (Penny Cash in the English version; Celia De La Plata in the Spanish) guides the student step by step through each section. The student has a virtual experience learning how to fill out checks, use an ATM, interact with bank employees, fill out a check register correctly, calculate Annual Percentage Rates (APRs), and much more. Students receive ongoing feedback on their work. Upon successful completion of each section, students can print out a certificate showing that they have mastered that module's curriculum.

2. How long does each module take a student to complete?

One of the advantages of the Money Smart CBI is that students work at their own pace. However, on average, each section will take 20 - 30 minutes to complete.

3. Money Smart was designed primarily for low- and moderate-income individuals. How can people in those groups use the computer-based version if they don't already know how to use a computer?

This problem concerned us, so we actively set out to address it. First, we have chosen to partner with national organizations that regularly provide their audiences with access to computers. We also are encouraging financial institutions and major corporations to donate computers to our partners.

Second, earlier this year, while the CBI was in the final stages of development, we conducted tests with six groups around the country and in Puerto Rico. Three of the tests were of the Spanish version; three were of the English version. Participants ranged in age from their early 20s to their mid-80s. Some were welfare-to-work participants; others were from senior citizens' centers, public or transitional housing, or neighborhood improvement programs. Some were unemployed and others came to the testing site directly from their jobs on the night shift at a local factory. Computer skills ranged from slight to nil. All six groups reported a positive experience with the Money Smart CBI. Even the senior citizens, who were being exposed to a computer for the first time, were able to master the use of the mouse and successfully complete one or more sections.

We have posted the Money Smart CBI on our Web site where people can access it through public computers in places such as libraries. The Web version was slightly modified so that the program can be accessed by older, less sophisticated computers without danger of "freezing" them.

4. What kind of equipment and software are necessary for running the version on the FDIC Web site?

To make the program accessible to the broadest number of users, the Web version requires the following:

  • One of the standard versions of Windows-Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP
  • Access to the Internet at 56 Kb or faster
  • Internet Explorer (version 5.0 or higher) or Netscape (version 4.04 or higher)

A sound card, along with standard speakers or headphones, is also recommended.

5. How do I access the Web version of the Money Smart interactive CBI?

The Web version of the Money Smart CBI can be accessed at

6. How can I obtain a copy of the Money Smart interactive CBI?

The order form can be found at

Note: The September 22, 2004, issue of FYI (the FDIC's electronic bulletin analyzing emerging issues in banking and the economy) explored Delivery Systems for Financial Education in Theory and Practice.

Last Updated 10/14/2004

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