PICPA Spring 2011 : Page 18

EDUCATION “Accounting educators should adapt courses to satisfy a student population that demands more flexibility in the delivery of accounting education.” Emerging Trends in Online Accounting Education at Colleges By Cory Ng, CPA onvenience and flexibility are often cited as the primary advantages of taking courses online. Those with busy work schedules or considerable family obligations can pursue higher edu-cation online without having to be on campus at a set time. According to one study, the growth rate for online enroll-ments was 21 percent in 2009, compared with a less than 2 percent growth rate for the overall higher-education student population. 1 The same study found that about 39 percent of higher-education students take at least one course online. That was nearly 5.6 million students in the fall of 2009. Accounting programs at colleges and universities across the country are offer-ing more online courses, in some cases entire degree programs. For example, in fall 2010, the University of Minnesota, Crookston, launched a bachelor’s degree in accounting that is offered entirely online. Washington State University offers a degree in business administra-tion, with a major in accounting, deliv-ered completely online. C ing management system in delivering the course content. According to the study, about 75 percent of students in the two undergraduate courses said the online course was as effective, or more so, than a traditional course. All the students in the graduate course indi-cated that online delivery was as, or more, effective than a traditional class-room course. 2 Online Accounting Homework Systems Given increasing enrollments in online education, it is important that account-ing educators become aware of the emerging trends and technological advances in delivering accounting courses over the Internet. One recent technology that has emerged is the online home-work system. Some well-known text-book publishers, such as Wiley and Pearson, now offer online accounting homework systems that are integrated with accounting textbooks. According to Jacob C. Peng, “The online home-work system allows professors to use Internet technology to implement homework problems that students are able to complete online. Because this system is automatic, students may receive their graded homework almost instantly and master the materials through repeti-tive practice.” 3 Educator Perspective on Online Accounting Education To gather input on an educator’s thoughts on the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of online accounting education, I interviewed Alan Davis, CPA, associate professor of account-Student Perceptions of Online Accounting Education One area that could influence either growth or resistance to online education is how courses are perceived by students with regard to effectiveness as com-pared to traditional courses. One study examined two undergraduate accounting courses and one graduate accounting course delivered entirely online. The researchers used a leading class-capture web service (the ability to record audio and video of a class session for a digital format) integrated with a learn-PENNSYLVANIA CPA JOURNAL, SPRING 2011 PAGE 18 ing at the Community College of Philadelphia. With regard to the strengths of an online accounting program, Davis explained that online education has a great deal of flexibility and freedom, allowing students to take courses without the typical constraints of time and loca-tion. “I’ve already had a student in the military who was stationed in Germany take one of my courses, even completing course work while his unit was out on maneuvers,” Davis says. Going forward, he foresees evolving technology – especially video technology – adding greater advantages, with video-conferencing as a substitute for the classroom environment. “I can see a 100 percent online class using regularly scheduled video-conferencing as a replacement for on-campus meetings,” Davis says. “It’s only a matter of time until the technology becomes widely available, economically attainable for students, and is accepted by the stu-dents as standard when purchasing their computers.” There are weaknesses, of course. The top concern Davis points to is the time lag, or turn-around time, inherent in online education, particularly when students have questions for which they want answers right away. “In an online environment, immediate responses are few and far between,” Davis explains. “Having to wait for a response, even though turn-around time is usually less than 24 hours, can result in the student becoming frustrated with a topic, skip-ping some material, or moving ahead with false assumptions.” Another challenge is that there is no www.picpa.org

Education

Cory Ng, CPA

"Accounting educators should adapt courses to satisfy a student population that demands more flexibility in the delivery of accounting education."

Emerging Trends in Online Accounting Education at Colleges

Convenience and flexibility are often cited as the primary advantages of taking courses online. Those with busy work schedules or considerable family obligations can pursue higher education online without having to be on campus at a set time. According to one study, the growth rate for online enrollments was 21 percent in 2009, compared with a less than 2 percent growth rate for the overall higher-education student population.1 The same study found that about 39 percent of higher-education students take at least one course online. That was nearly 5.6 million students in the fall of 2009.

Accounting programs at colleges and universities across the country are offering more online courses, in some cases entire degree programs. For example, in fall 2010, the University of Minnesota, Crook ston, launched a bachelor's degree in accounting that is offered entirely online. Washington State University offers a degree in business administration, with a major in accounting, delivered completely online.

Student Perceptions of Online Accounting Education

One area that could influence either growth or resistance to online education is how courses are perceived by students with regard to effectiveness as compared to traditional courses. One study examined two undergraduate accounting courses and one graduate accounting course delivered entirely online. The researchers used a leading class-capture web service (the ability to record audio and video of a class session for a digital format) integrated with a learning Management system in delivering the course content. According to the study, about 75 percent of students in the two undergraduate courses said the online course was as effective, or more so, than a traditional course. All the students in the graduate course indicated that online delivery was as, or more, effective than a traditional classroom course.

Online Accounting Homework Systems

Given increasing enrollments in online education, it is important that accounting educators become aware of the emerging trends and technological advances in delivering accounting courses over the Internet. One recent technology that has emerged is the online homework system. Some well-known textbook publishers, such as Wiley and Pearson, now offer online accounting homework systems that are integrated with accounting textbooks. According to Jacob C. Peng, "The online homework system allows professors to use Internet technology to implement homework problems that students are able to complete online. Because this system is automatic, students may receive their graded homework almost instantly and master the materials through repetitive practice."

Educator Perspective on Online Accounting Education

To gather input on an educator's thoughts on the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of online accounting education, I interviewed Alan Davis, CPA, associate professor of accounting Accounting at the Community College of Philadelphia.

With regard to the strengths of an online accounting program, Davis explained that online education has a great deal of flexibility and freedom, allowing students to take courses without the typical constraints of time and location. "I've already had a student in the military who was stationed in Germany take one of my courses, even completing course work while his unit was out on maneuvers," Davis says.

Going forward, he foresees evolving technology – especially video technology – adding greater advantages, with videoconferencing as a substitute for the classroom environment. "I can see a 100 percent online class using regularly scheduled video-conferencing as a replacement for on-campus meetings," Davis says. "It's only a matter of time until the technology becomes widely available, economically attainable for students, and is accepted by the students as standard when purchasing their computers."

There are weaknesses, of course. The top concern Davis points to is the time lag, or turn-around time, inherent in online education, particularly when students have questions for which they want answers right away. "In an online environment, immediate responses are few and far between," Davis explains. "Having to wait for a response, even though turn-around time is usually less than 24 hours, can result in the student becoming frustrated with a topic, skipping some material, or moving ahead with false assumptions."

Another challenge is that there is no Way to be sure who is doing the online course work. "We trust that it's the named student, but how do we know for sure?" Davis asks. "It's always been said that what you get out of something depends on what you put into it. Never more true than in online education."

Public Law 110-315 (United States Higher Education Opportunity Act,2008) attempts to address this concern. It directs accreditation agencies to require colleges and universities to have a process to establish that the student who registers for an online course is the same student who participates in the course.

Conclusion

The demand for online accounting education will likely grow. As such, it is important that accounting educators understand the emerging trends in online education and adapt courses to satisfy a student population that demands more flexibility in the delivery of accounting education.

1 Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman, "Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010," Babson Survey Research Group, November 2010, p. 2

2 Michael P. Watters and Paul J.Robertson, "Online Delivery of Accounting Courses: Student Perceptions," Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, Volume 13, No. 3, 2009, p. 54

3 Jacob C. Peng, "Using an Online Homework System to Submit Accounting Homework: Role of Cognitive Need, Computer Efficacy, and Perception," Journal of Education for Business, May/June 2009, p. 263

Cory Ng, CPA, is an accounting instructor at the Community College of Philadelphia and a member of the Pennsylvania CPA Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at cng@ccp.edu.

The author gratefully acknowledges Alan Davis, CPA, associate professor at the Community College of Philadelphia, for his efforts in producing this article.

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.sheridan.com/article/Education/662799/63474/article.html.

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