A Learning Simulation App that provides an interactive way to learn macroeconomics

Task: Instructional design; UX design & prototyping

Role: Design Assistant


Design a digital product at low cost that provides a personalized learning experience in macro-economics for college-age students.


EconSIMS, an mobile-based suite of 15 simulations that incorporates best-in-field personalized learning and assessment tools and contextualized learning modules. Fully funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


Macroeconomics is a foundational but difficult subject for college-age students. It is quite common to see hundreds of students sitting in a lecture hall listening to one professor, and the only learning material they have is a brick-like textbook. Students are forced to learn through rote memory rather than active construction. The learning experience is frustrating, which affects the learning outcome. How might we create a more engaging and effective learning experience for college-age students that is personal but scalable?


We co-developed the simulations with teachers and students in New York City, employing an iterative design process to test and refine each simulation in usability studies. The first chapter of this project, StatsSIMS designed and developed by CREATE, is already available in both Apple Store and Google Play. Similar to StatsSIMS, EconSIMS will expand from a pilot at Columbia College to around 100 colleges nationwide, reaching 100,000 students in credit-bearing courses, including high-numbers of low-income, minority, and military students. Another 200,000 students will experience MacroEconomics in non-economics courses or as a freely-available online course.

Sample Design – Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Users can explore the flow of resources by tracking a product through its production. Specific functions include:

  • Plot values in each step of production on one graph;
  • Drag and drop icons for the various components of GDP;
  • Slide a tab containing certain value to make prediction.

Sample Design – Business Cycle

Users can play the role of a decision maker of how government should use the fiscal or monetary policies to influence the market, prompted with a narrative and corresponding graphs. Specific functions include:

  • Explore business cycle history by clicking each data point on the graph;
  • Categorize types of unemployment by dragging and dropping the characters into the correct bucket.


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