The world is beginning to resume limited in-person interactions. However, many companies are not quite ready to put all of their accountants on a plane and send them to a big training conference anytime soon! This begs the question: How do you train an organization full of CPAs, getting them the CPE they need, while also keeping the training relevant and engaging? This post explores some of the ways that we are helping companies and accounting firms transform their learning and development plans to meet the challenges presented by operating during a global pandemic.
Solution #1: Webinars
One of our long-standing corporate clients partners with us every year to develop and facilitate a 1-day U.S. GAAP Update training to various locations all over the world. We’ve been doing this type of training for them for years. The materials were prepared, the training dates set, and then COVID-19 struck and made global travel impossible this year. What was the solution for this global corporation with hundreds of accountants around the world? Webinars! As Mike alluded to in this post, our webinars receive rave reviews from attendees thanks to:
- The casual tone (no script-reading for us!)
- The preparedness of the instructors (yes, we have at least two instructors on all of our webinars!)
- The interaction with the participants (polling questions, chat panes, Q&A, etc.)
- The timely, relevant, and engaging materials
- The fun we genuinely have in front of a live (albeit virtual) audience
How’d we do it? We converted all of our classroom materials into something that was more digestible in a virtual environment. Remember, the original training was scheduled to be one full day. Can you imagine sitting through an 8-hour webinar? Neither can we! Do you have existing classroom material you need to convert into something more appropriate in a webinar environment? Here are some tips and tricks to consider:
- Divide up your content! We strongly believe that no webinar should last longer than 2 hours. We find the sweet spot to both give the learners meaningful information and not lose their attention is somewhere between 1.0 and 1.5 hours. This means you may need to look for creative ways to reorganize your material by topic or sub-topic to present material in shorter segments that still make sense to your learners.
- Rethink your interactivities. In the classroom, it is easy to break off into small groups, spend time working on case studies, or do other game or scenario based interactivities. In a virtual environment, those activities will need to be modified based on the tools offered by your webinar platform. Could you ask a question using the polling question feature? What about initiating a chat with the group? You can even share the microphone with participants as they “raise their hand” in the virtual classroom. For a list of engagement methods based on the learning goal, check out this article.
- Remember NASBA compliance. Don’t forget, there are some additional NASBA requirements when moving from a Group Live to a Group Internet Based program. Most notably: Polling questions! Your course must include at least 3 questions per hour of learning (or 5 if the course is 1.5 hours). These polling questions are to make sure that the learner is still present and do not need to be tied to the learning objectives, but certainly can be. We usually like to throw in a few extra polling questions just in case the learner misses one.
Need help developing materials, converting them into a webinar format, facilitating the webinar, and/or ensuring it all complies with NASBA requirements? Let’s talk!
Solution #2: eLearning
For some clients, time is of the essence. Webinars may be difficult because they have people spread out over different time zones. Perhaps they don’t have existing classroom training materials. They need a solution, and they need it now. Luckily for them, we have a solution ready at the push of a button with our U.S. GAAP Library.
Companies can buy licenses for an individual course by selecting that course from our ever-growing library of topics covering virtually all U.S. GAAP, purchase licenses for multiple courses, or subscribe to our entire library of U.S. GAAP content. Not only is our eLearning top-notch, but by purchasing a U.S. GAAP Subscription, you become a GAAPologist, part of our GAAP D family, which has its perks, including:
- Over 35 CPE-compliant self-study courses
- Access to our quarterly webinar series
- Early VIP access to our microlearning library
- Enrollment in our blog, GAAPology (but you can always subscribe now!)
- Access to our other publications
- A box of GAAP Swag, so you can show off your love of GAAP!
What makes our eLearning different from other providers? As CPAs, we are learners too and we don’t create online training (or any training for that matter) that we would not want to take ourselves. It’s our brand promise and it’s part of our DNA! When is the last time you laughed when taking accounting training? We try to make our eLearning courses fun, usually incorporating a theme like the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles in our ASC 842 eLearning courses or celebrity couples in our course collection covering everything you need to know about ASC 805 Business Combinations. We believe that when learners have fun, they’re engaged. And if they’re engaged, they’re learning!
Looking for something more custom? No problem. Our CPA subject-matter experts and instructional designers along with our eLearning programmers combine to make a winning team to craft a custom eLearning to fit your needs. For example, we recently helped a global corporation convert their accounting policy into an engaging, interactive, and CPE-eligible eLearning!
Want to learn more? Interested in enterprise pricing or group discounts? Let’s talk!
Solution #3: Converting existing content into virtual learning solutions
Perhaps you’ve already decided to run live webinars to deliver training to your teams, but now you’re running into the age-old problem that all live trainings face, virtual or not: What do you about the people who were not able to attend? Or how do you make sure that you aren’t constantly having to re-administer the webinar as new-hires join the team? With most webinar platforms, you’ll have a recording of the live event and while that’s great, as you may know, the playback of the webinar is NOT CPE-eligible. This was the problem that one of our Big Four accounting firm clients recent faced, and we were able to help them with two different products. Both products involved converting the materials from the live webinar into a CPE-compliant self-study.
For the first product, we took the video playback of the webinar, and divided the video into shorter, digestible chunks (maybe 5-10 minutes), which makes for a much better learner experience than watching 90 minutes of video! It also allowed the learner to learn one topic or section of the training at a time. At the end of each section of video, a knowledge check or interaction tested the learner’s knowledge gain and comprehension of the learning objective. To help our clients maintain NASBA-compliance, we also authored all NASBA-required elements including the learning objectives, glossary, knowledge check questions, and post-course assessment questions.
The second product was similar in that it was based on the webinar’s original materials. However, we did not use the video playbacks for this product. Instead, we took the audio associated with each individual slide and built a more traditional eLearning module using the slides as the base of the module coupled with the audio. In this scenario, the learner has more control over the learning experience and can listen to and control each slide individually versus listening to an entire section at once. It also allows us more flexibility for placement of interactivities and knowledge checks to engage the learner (not to mention, it’s the cheaper & faster option!).
If you want to read up on some of the pros, cons, and other considerations when converting a live webinar into a CPE-compliant self-study, you can read more in LaTarshia’s blog here.
Solution #4: A Blended Approach
Our last solution is probably my favorite. One of our banking clients has partnered with us for the past several years to provide a week of U.S. GAAP training to their new-hires, introducing them to the banking industry and the accounting considerations that are unique to the banking industry. Again, when COVID hit, they came to us looking for a solution fast.
We knew we could not do an 8-hour webinar for 5 straight days. We’ve already mentioned how mind-numbingly boring that would be! We needed to mix it up. Our solution was to offer this bank’s new-hires a blended learning approach, meaning we’d offer a mix of self-study eLearning that they can complete on their own, along with live, instructor-led webinars to give them an opportunity to interact with their other new-hires and ask questions of the instructor.
Essentially, the way it works is the entire new-hire class will meet together using Zoom in the morning. The purpose of this meeting will be for the instructor to introduce the day’s agenda, set the tone for the day, and give learners an opportunity to ask questions and say hello to their fellow new-hires. Afterwards, learners will be given a few hours of time to take a self-study eLearning on the topic du jour. After lunch, learners will rejoin the instructors for a live webinar covering a more in-depth look at the topic and how that topic impacts the bank for which they work. Again, this gives the learners an opportunity to interact with the instructors and ask questions as they learn. Overall, it gives learners the best of both worlds: time to take training at their own time and pace, and the benefit of a live instructor to answer questions and provide additional guidance and engagement!
A quick note on NASBA compliance and COVID: Regardless of the modality you choose, keep in mind that the NASBA has specific rules that must be followed to maintain compliance. However, in light of the global pandemic, the NASBA has provided some relief to those who are only approved for Group Live training to be able to offer virtual training events and maintain compliance.
About GAAP Dynamics
We’re a DIFFERENT type of accounting training firm. We don’t think of training as a “tick the box” exercise, but rather an opportunity to empower your people to help them make the right decisions at the right time. Whether it’s U.S. GAAP training, IFRS training, or audit training, we’ve helped thousands of professionals since 2001. Our clients include some of the largest accounting firms and companies in the world. As lifelong learners, we believe training is important. As CPAs, we believe great training is vital to doing your job well and maintaining the public trust. We want to help you understand complex accounting matters and we believe you deserve the best training in the world, regardless of whether you work for a large, multinational company or a small, regional accounting firm. We passionately create high-quality training that we would want to take. This means it is accurate, relevant, engaging, visually appealing, and fun. That’s our brand promise. Want to learn more about how GAAP Dynamics can help you? Let’s talk!
This post is published to spread the love of GAAP and provided for informational purposes only. Although we are CPAs and have made every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the post as of the date it was published, we are not responsible for your ultimate compliance with accounting or auditing standards and you agree not to hold us responsible for such. In addition, we take no responsibility for updating old posts, but may do so from time to time.