Popular Board Game Incorporated Into Northeast Ag Class

Published on: August 27, 2019

NORFOLK, NE – For more than eight decades, players of all ages have passed “Go” and raced their tokens around Monopoly game boards. Their strategy is to acquire the greatest net income and largest capital account, while buying, trading, selling and managing their properties.

Brandon Keller, agricultural business instructor at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, wondered if the fun element of Monopoly could also serve as an educational experience for students in his Farm and Ranch Management class.

Keller said the overall purpose of the class is to teach general management practices, including record management, financial management, business planning and overall risk management. Accounting is one of the focus areas.

“Learning accounting can be daunting and not as exciting (as other classes) for students,” said Keller, who took accounting classes for his undergraduate and graduate degrees. “When you look back at the content (of business courses), it’s not going to be something of much interest to our students, so I wanted to find something that would be fun and educational.”

Searching Google, he explored the idea of incorporating the fast-dealing property trading game into his curriculum. He found an accounting variation of Monopoly that had been copyrighted in 1996 by Carl Lyman, a Utah educator.

Keller said the version he finalized is “a traditional Monopoly game with a few minor edits.”

Tara Smydra, associate dean of agriculture, math and science at Northeast, gave Keller the go-ahead to incorporate his version of the game into his Farm and Ranch Management curriculum in the fall semester of the 2018-19 academic year.

At first, Keller said his students were apprehensive when they saw the board game on the tables.

“They then realize they’re not just playing Monopoly,” he said. “You start seeing them catching on. Its relevance causes them to start asking questions, not just with me but with the other people in their group.”

The classroom experience, he said, “was comforting because it took accounting out of a formal business education lecture and put it more into an interactive experience for the students.”

Keller said, “Whenever money came out or came in (during the game), it needed to be recorded. It’s an electronic world. We don’t write checks anymore. We run a debit card. Students are not used to keeping records. You get a bank statement in writing or pull it up on your phone.”

The Monopoly transactions, Keller said, were “not real life, but they went through real-life feelings. I wanted to get them thinking about how accounting is used in everyday life,” such as paying rent, utilities and taxes.

Keller is incorporating Monopoly into his Farm and Ranch Management classes going forward, but with a few modifications.

“It was a learning experience for me, as well as my students,” Keller said, adding that he’s on the lookout “to find new and exciting ways to present (class) material.”

Funding for the$23 million project is currently being solicited to enhance and expand the agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College. In addition to the College’s commitment of $10 million, Northeast is seeking at least $13 million in private funds to begin the initial phase of construction, which includes a new farm site with a farm office and storage, a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, and a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck Pohlman Ag Complex on East Benjamin Avenue.

For more information, contact Northeast Community College Associate Vice President of Development and External Affairs Dr. Tracy Kruse, tracyk@northeast.edu, 402-844-7056. Online donations can be made through the website agwaternexus.com. Checks can be mailed to: Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469.

Photo Cutline – Keller

Instructor Brandon Keller (center) observes as his students, Ellie Navrkal (left) of Wayne, and Dustin Schmit of Hospers, IA, play a game of Monopoly. Keller has incorporated the game into an educational component of his Farm and Ranch Management classes at Northeast Community College. (Courtesy Northeast Community College)