Seven things you need to know about Iconomix

Economic and financial literacy is a fundamental life skill for finding one's way in today's complex world. Iconomix makes a valuable contribution to this by providing mostly experience-oriented teaching and learning materials. The following provides answers to two pertinent questions: Why and how?

1) Mission, target group, reach and use

Iconomix is an educational programme offered by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) with the goal of promoting economic and financial literacy in Switzerland. To achieve this, Iconomix specializes in providing teaching and learning materials to support teachers of economics and social studies at Swiss upper secondary schools (vocational schools, upper secondary specialized schools and baccalaureate schools).

The number of teachers of economics and social studies at upper secondary schools in Switzerland is just over 4,200. This allows for a clearly defined, manageable target group with which a firm and long-term customer relationship can be established. Long-term because, unlike the school-age population, the teaching workforce remains relatively stable over time.

The downside of targeting teachers instead of students is that Iconomix has no control over how the provided teaching material is applied in class. However, we do not see this as a disadvantage, because teaching is the teacher’s core business for which they are trained and specialised. Iconomix does not want to interfere here, but rather aims to enable teachers to do the best job possible.

14 years after its launch, Iconomix is actively used by 40 percent of its target group, with similar penetration in all parts of the country (Ge, Fr, It). This makes it the most frequently used supplementary educational programme at the Swiss upper secondary level.

2) Core product

The core product of Iconomix are around 100 teaching units offered in three national languages (Ge, Fr, It). Some of them are also available in English, specifically designed for bilingual education in Switzerland.

Each teaching unit is a bundle, consisting of a so-called ‘highlight’ – for example a class game –, a set of application-oriented exercises and learning assignments (with sample answers for the teachers), support material for the teachers (presentations, game instructions, supplementary didactic notes), and links as well as videos on the topic. The entire offer is free of charge. However, registration is required for some services (e.g. the sample answers to the exercises and assignments).

Teachers use Iconomix resources in addition to their own material and the existing economics and social studies textbooks. Accordingly, a teacher rarely uses the offering as a whole, but selects maybe one or two units per year. This cherry-picking on part of the teachers is intended since Iconomix is designed to complement the curriculum, not substitute it.

3) Focus on economics and personal finance

Iconomix focuses on economics and personal finance, with a particular emphasis on current topics and social challenges:

In the area of economics, Iconomix provides materials and interactive tools to visualise complex economic concepts. Learners or students are trained in economic thinking and gain an understanding of basic economic issues.

In the area of personal finance, Iconomix promotes the acquisition of basic knowledge and money management skills through everyday guidance and resources.

4) Up-to-date didactic concept

The didactic concept of Iconomix is action-oriented, hence it is not just based on transmitting factual knowledge, but on showing students how this knowledge can be put to use in real-life situations, and on fostering students’ willingness to do so.

This is why in most Iconomix units the so-called ‘highlight’ consists of a game, a simulation or a case study. Those are door openers. They motivate students to engage with a topic, which then triggers the reflection and learning process.

5) Sponsorship and funding

The SNB launched Iconomix in 2007 with the aim of promoting basic economic and financial literacy in Switzerland. Economic and financial literacy is a basic life skill necessary to navigate today's complex world successfully. With Iconomix, the SNB aims to contribute to promoting this life skill.

Iconomix is 100% financed and supported by the SNB. In 2011, the basic funding of the responsible unit was limited by the bank management to CHF 0.7 million per year (approximately EUR 0.7 million) and the number of staff was limited to 3.6 full-time equivalents plus two interns. This allocation of financial and human resources has proven to be sustainable over the years.

6) Web-based, but not only

Iconomix is web-based, meaning that the entire programme is centred around its web platform, which is also the main channel of communication towards the target group (the teachers).

However, direct interaction with the teachers is just as important. These interactions happen mainly through the organisation of training events and symposia, whether on-site as physical events or as video conferences.

7) Diversity as a key to success

Since almost all young people in Switzerland complete upper secondary level schooling, the student population reflects population heterogeneity at large. In other words, there are big differences between students in terms of cognitive abilities and prior knowledge. The needs and methodological preferences of teachers are similarly diverse.

In addition, Iconomix is present in the three language regions of Switzerland. Since these language regions differ not only linguistically but also culturally, this adds another level of heterogeneity to an already diverse target group of teachers and students at the upper secondary level

All this calls for a great variety of topics, didactic approaches and teaching scenarios.

Further information on Iconomix, including current key figures, can be found in the SNB's sustainability report (Chapter 5) and on in the ‘About us’ section.

Why “Iconomix”?

In German, French and Italian, the name "Iconomix" is pronounced like the English word "economics". In these languages, then, the name is a playful version of the term "economics."

Portrait von Manuel Wälti
Article by:
Manuel Wälti
created on 07.06.2022
modified at 05.04.2024