Business Professor Offering New Course in Digital and Financial Literacy

Todd Newfield’s Special Topics: Becoming a Digital Nomad will be offered in the summer 2019 semester.

Christine Beyleveldt, Editor-in-Chief

Capilano University Business instructor Todd Newfield believes modern post-secondary education needs to be shaken up. This semester, he’s been running a beta test of a course, Investment Bootcamp, and helping five of his students independently learn about investing, setting up their own web businesses and essentially becoming digital nomads. For Business student Stuart Werner, Newfield’s course is helping him expand his excel skills, since it’s something that he says every employer is looking for in grads. 

In Newfield’s beta class, students are all working on different projects. Some like Werner are working with Python – a programming language. Others are working with an online learning tool called Udemy, Shopify or Amazon FBA to set up their own online businesses.

“I went to accounting teachers, three of them, and asked them what software platforms [they] would recommend to students, they’re ready to run their own independent consulting or companies on the cloud and to do their tax. They said they didn’t know, they didn’t recommend anything, nor do we teach this.” 

Newfield has been getting some flak, originally for the title of his course. He believed that because his beta course included “investment” and “strategies” in its title, the School of Business thought it would confuse students with other courses on offer. Newfield changed his course to Investment Bootcamp and later to Special Topics: Being a Digital Nomad. In the course this summer, he intends to cover real estate, stocks and financial literacy to name a few of the topics. He also aims to help students set up their own online businesses if they choose. 

“I want to help [students] succeed. That’s my whole mission… and a big part of that is helping them not just understand [that] you don’t have to work at Telus if you want to work in business, you can start your own business,” said Newfield. “I want to really help and inspire the next generation to do that.” 

A September 2017 Financial Post article reported that as little as just one quarter of Canadians have any savings at all for a rainy day. “Canadians who don’t save are struggling for retirement and whatnot, it’s a massive problem,” said Newfield. In May 2018, a Global News article reported even more grim statistics – Canadian students owe over $28 billion in government loans. Just last month the BC provincial government scrapped interest on student loans. This came after interest rates were lowered from prime plus 2.5 per cent to just prime in September 2017, that in itself causing celebration across the province. 

Werner also believes that learning how to be financially independent should be included in any curricula. After Planning 10 in the local high school curriculum where students learn how to budget, finances are noticeably absent. Recently in a team project he explained that he was the only international business discipline working with three students in marketing. When he and his teammates reached the accounting phase of their project, they were at a loss. None of them had done any basic accounting in two or three years since taking an introductory accounting class in the first year of the business program before taking up different disciplines. “Regardless, everybody has to get a job and pay taxes,” said Werner. “It’s something every discipline needs to know.”

“The directed study is looking at outside sources for learning,” Werner added. “My favourite part about it has been [that I’m] able to just expand on – I call it – my personal skill set.”

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