Count FEFE, available to download for free on iPhone and Android smartphones, was created by Aston Business School and eLearning Studios to help college and university students, as well as trainee accountants, gain the financial know-how integral to running a successful business.
The app creators hope the project will help students develop the accounting and finance abilities which are often neglected by owner-managers of start-up firms. Research commissioned by AAT revealed that a third of small and medium-sized enterprises failed to grow at all between 2010 and 2015, with 58% of small business owners admitting to not having any kind of business plan.
A key factor in this skill deficit is believed to be a lack of financial education, with London Institute of Banking and Finance finding that 57% of students receive no financial education whatsoever.
Count FEFE uses gamification techniques to make learning and practicing accounting skills easier and more engaging. It was partly inspired by apps such as Duolingo, the popular language-learning app, which makes learning new skills a more enjoyable process for the learner.
The project was born out of a will to improve the long-term survival of smaller businesses by ensuring business students, many of whom go on to become entrepreneurs, have the necessary accountancy skills to run a business successfully.
Matt Davies, project lead and Senior Teaching Fellow at Aston Business School, said: “It is well known that the level of financial literacy of an owner-managers of a smaller businesses has a major bearing on whether the business is successful, or indeed whether it even survives beyond its first few years of trading. Despite this, many entrepreneurs freely admit that their accounting and finance skills are lacking.
“Knowing ‘where the money is going’ and ‘where it is coming from’ are important for running any business, and we believe this app is one way for educators to encourage greater engagement with accounting information and broader financial awareness and skills, ultimately helping to improve the longevity and success of the next generation of business start-ups”.
In the game, players take on the role of Count or Countess FEFE who having inherited some money decides to set up a start-up retail business selling upcycled musical coffins. The game simulates many of the tasks required for running a business, such as responding to events, making business decisions and interpreting financial information.
As players improve their skills and grow the virtual business, new levels are unlocked revealing new financial challenges leading to the ultimate goal of being listed on the Transylvania stock market.
The game is designed to provide an engaging and fun way to support students learning accounting. It can help build confidence in the form, content and terminology of financial statements, as well as enabling players to develop broader business, commercial ethical and risk awareness.
Whilst it is primarily aimed at ‘non-specialists’ studying introductory accounting and finance courses on vocational and higher education programmes, the game also has an optional bookkeeping mode which means it is also relevant to specialist accounting students and trainee accountants as well.
Mr Davies added: “As someone who has spent 25 years teaching the subject to students, managers and entrepreneurs, I am aware that some people find accounting and finance a bit frightening. Many find the subject dry and difficult, and some struggle to appreciate its relevance for the management of a business.
“The Count FEFE game aims to address these misconceptions and make the subject more engaging and more enjoyable for students to learn.”
The game was built in collaboration with eLearning Studios, who have designed similar learning apps and games for the likes of the BBC, Roche and British Gas.
Nitin Thakrar, managing director of eLearning Studios, said: “We thoroughly enjoyed working on this project and relished the challenge of creating a platform that makes practicing accountancy a more fun process. People learn best when they enjoy what they’re doing, and we believe Count FEFE will give students, budding entrepreneurs and trainee accountants an engaging resource to develop the financial skills all good business leaders need.”
Plans are in place for an upgraded version of the game which will allow teachers both the ability to check the performance of their students via a learning analytics tool, as well as the ability to customise the question bank to tailor the app for their specific classes. There are also plans to include extra levels dedicated to new content such as management accounting and financial management. This is expected to be launched in 2019.
Count FEFE was produced as part of the Financial Education for Future Entrepreneurs project, led by Aston Business School and funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.
Notes to editors
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About Aston University
Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice Chancellor & Chief Executive.
Aston has been a leading university for graduate employment success for over 25 years and our students do extremely well in securing top jobs and careers. Our strong relationships with industry partners mean we understand the needs of employers, which is why we are also ranked in the top 20 for graduate employability.
About eLearning Studios
Elearning Studios (ELS) is UK’s leading provider of learning technologies. ELS solutions in e-learning, serious games, virtual reality and augmented reality. Further information can be found on www.e-learningstudios.com or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 024 7652 5550
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