With busy season coming to a close, spring just around the corner, and March Madness about to tip-off, one thing always comes to mind: it’s time to start planning for this year’s CPE! (What, is that not what you think of?!) If you’re like most of our accounting firm clients, you probably have piles of training built up in old PowerPoint slides, PDFs of case studies, and binders of leader’s guides. While that content was great in the “good old days” of live training, those days are long gone. Are you looking for ways to easily update your existing content to get it ready for the post-pandemic learning landscape? How about converting that content into engaging, virtual, CPE-eligible eLearning or webinars? Read on to learn some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned the hard way in taking good content virtual!
Tip #1: Take inventory
Take stock of the existing content you have. Is it up to date? What format is it in? Do you have leader’s guides or scripts? What about handouts or resources? Whether you’re going to convert the content into virtual learning yourself or hire someone else to do it, making sure you have all the source files ready and in good shape is an essential first step.
Tip #2: Know the options/tools
Now that you’ve identified the content for conversion into virtual learning, it’s time to think about the tools for conversion that you have at your disposal. If you’re starting with instructor-led training (Group Live), you’ll likely be converting it into one of the following virtual learning options:
- Webinar (Group Internet-Based): Most companies have access to a webinar platform these days, whether it is something included in your corporate tool kit like Microsoft Teams or Zoom, or if it something more robust like Adobe Connect or even a webcasting platform like On24. Knowing the tools, and the features built into those tools, will be critical in converting your ILT training into a Webinar. Can you add polls, chats, breakout rooms? Can you include documents and resources? Can you record the live training? How many learners can attend at once?
- eLearning (QAS Self Study): Converting an ILT into an eLearning can be a bit more involved in terms of timeline, effort, and cost, but once it is converted, it has a much longer shelf-life than a webinar! Common tools we use for converting existing content into eLearning include Articulate Storyline and Rise 360, but there are so many different eLearning authoring tools out there that may fit your needs.
If you are planning to deliver your training via a live webinar (Group Internet-Based), don’t forget to hit that record button so you can quickly and easily convert it into a CPE-compliant eLearning (QAS Self Study).
Tip #3: Focus on the future and plan for multiple modalities
If there is one thing we’ve learned from the Pandemic and the way it shook the learning and development world to its core, it is to plan for the unplanned and expect the unexpected! When we design our new training programs, we know our clients may want it delivered via any and all of the 3 learning modalities:
- Group Live – Live instructor-led training in a classroom setting
- Group Internet Based – Live instructor-led training facilitated through a virtual classroom (i.e., webinars, webcasts, etc.)
- QAS Self-Study – Self-paced eLearning available to the learner at their moment of need
Knowing that the same content may be delivered in different ways empowers us to plan a training program that is flexible yet still learner-centric. When we design the course, we can make adjustments we would not otherwise have made. For instance, we’ll consider how a question we ask in the Group Live setting will carry over to a Group Internet Based setting. Can we ask a polling question on it? Does it need to be addressed in a group chat or breakout room? How does this same discussion question carry over into eLearning? Can we ask the participant to complete an interaction and answer the question? Will we need to debrief it using video? Answering these types of questions can also help you determine what programs or software you’ll use to create your eLearning.
Tip #4: Get accredited to issue CPE…or find someone who is
One of the biggest mistakes firms can make when designing their firm’s accounting or audit training programs is to fail to know the rules of the National Association of the State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). NASBA is the governing body when it comes to issuing continuing professional education (CPE) credits. Being able to issue CPE for your courses is critical as your learners must continue to earn CPE credits to maintain their CPA designation.
During the Pandemic, the NASBA relaxed its standards for CPE, but it has tightened those restrictions back up and the NASBA is clear that it expects CPE providers to play by the rules! If you are going to convert your existing content into another modality (for example, converting ILT into a webinar or eLearning), it is crucial that you know what the NASBA requires for each modality, and design your content appropriately. For instance, if you’re converting ILT into a webinar, you’ll need to add the requisite number of polling questions. If you’re converting your ILT into an eLearning, you’ll need to add knowledge check questions, a post-course assessment, and even a glossary!
Not NASBA accredited in all modalities? Don’t want to mess with the administrative headache that comes with acting as the NASBA-sponsoring organization? We don’t blame you! You can read more about how we’ve helped our clients with NASBA and CPE-related struggles here.
Tip #5: Choose the path of least resistance
If you’re mindful of Tips 1-4 above, this part should start to become natural as you build out your future training program. The most important thing is to get the content your learners need into their hands before they need it. Speed and efficiency are your friends! Here are just a few ways we’ve found our clients can take the path of least resistance:
- Record your webinars: If you know you’re going to have a Group Internet Based training, such as a webinar or a webcast, record it! If the content is solid and the speakers are effective, you can take that recording and convert it into CPE eligible eLearning (QAS Self-Study) by simply adding some knowledge check questions, a post-course exam, and a few other NASBA-required elements. This is something we’ve been doing for one of the largest accounting firms in the world for years, and it allows us to get their training into the hands of their learners in weeks, not months!
- User-friendly programs make hard work easier: One of our largest clients came to us to convert their existing accounting policies into CPE-eligible eLearning content. If you’ve got to read an accounting policy, you may as well earn CPE for it! To accomplish this quickly and on budget, we used Rise 360 to create visually stunning yet simple training that looks modern and is easy for the learner to access and digest.
- Don’t have existing content? No problem! License the content from someone who has already done the work. Wonderful technology like Rustici Content Controller makes it possible for us and other training providers to get our eLearning content onto your LMS quickly, easily, and efficiently! For example, a Big 4 firm recently licensed our Credit Losses: Introduction to the CECL Model course for approximately 750 learners last year. The training was hosted on their LMS and the content was even branded for their brand guidelines and they were able to get access at the push of a button. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
- Outsource the work that causes the most pain or takes the most time: Lastly, if your firm is like most of our clients, creating virtual learning takes time, a lot of time. You have L&D teams involved, stakeholders and subject matter experts weighing in, and a complex system of review and process on top of it all. This slows the process down. The benefit of working with a firm like GAAP Dynamics? We are small and nimble and can create content, program eLearning, or facilitate live training with enthusiasm and efficiency – saving you time, money, and mistakes!
The Proof is on the Scoreboard
Want some examples of how we’ve been helping firms big and small take their existing content to create high-quality and engaging virtual learning on-time and on-budget? Check out some of our success stories here! And as always, we’re here. Let’s talk!
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.
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