The Impact of Coronavirus on Education in the Accounting Profession
An unexpected side effect of the COVID- 19 pandemic might benefit CPAs. Experts predict we will see lower-cost continuing education as the supply of online content increases-- something that the profession has badly needed for far too long.
Overnight, the pandemic has driven home the importance of online education to accounting professionals now working remotely. With no warning whatsoever, in-person training and large conferences disappeared. At the same time, CPAs were asked to learn new rules and regulations to effectively guide their clients through unprecedented times for their businesses.
As a result, online education has become the only safe and effective way to communicate with the masses working from home. In the blink of an eye, CPAs who excelled at in-person education must now transition to online learning. Naturally, some firms are better prepared than others to deal with the disruption and make "the shift in delivery" work for them.
The accounting profession has never been immune to shifts in education methodology. Because CPAs are required to have an average of 40-hours continuing professional education (CPE) each year, our profession is deeply impacted by pedagogical shifts. Some states still have archaic rules in place, preventing CPAs from earning all their CPE through online classes.
Now, the AICPA, State Societies, conference organizers, publishing companies, universities, and other education groups must figure out how to best deliver their content during the pandemic. The Boards of Accountancy and NASBA will have to amend their anachronistic rules because online education is truly the only effective way to communicate high-quality content to the masses at a time like this. The dramatic ways that these CPA groups respond to the current disruption will impact the profession forever.
Fortunately, there is a silver lining for accounting professionals. Conferences and in-person events tend to have much higher costs to attendees than webinars and self-study because there is a great deal of overhead that must be recovered. Just as we have seen at universities, the cost of in-person education seems to have gotten out of hand and needed to be brought back to reasonable levels.
As conferences are canceled, and education shifts online, we see educational material offered to the CPA community for free or at greatly reduced prices. What we have not seen yet is innovations in learning. Just because it is technically possible to deliver an eight-hour program over the internet, from an instructional design perspective, this does not mean it is an effective method of delivery.
An unexpected side effect of the COVID- 19 pandemic might benefit CPAs. Experts predict we will see lower-cost continuing education as the supply of online content increases-- something that the profession has badly needed for far too long. As a community of lifelong learners, accountants will profit from the current shift to online education, an innovation that enables students and presenters to save time and money.
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