Money & Business

CPA Group Seeks Industry Input on "Future of Learning"

By / Jul 3, 2014 (Future of Learning website screenshot)

On the heels of its report on the state of continuing education in the CPA profession, the American Institute of CPAs launched a new website this week to spark a conversation around learning in the age of technology.

The model of professional development for certified public accountants needs to be reinvented: That’s the conclusion of the Task Force on the Future of Learning—a group of members and key stakeholders brought together by the American Institute of CPAs—in a recent report.

The report, prepared for AICPA and made public for the first time earlier this week, doesn’t take the shape of your typical white paper. The association developed a new website to display the findings and to generate discussion in the profession about how the organization can implement meaningful change.

“We hope it motivates people to really dig in, but we also built the website in a way that people can explore what’s most relevant to them,” said Clar Rosso, vice president of member learning and competency at AICPA. “In a way, that’s part of the message of the Future of Learning is that things aren’t one-size-fits-all anymore, and in our technology-enabled world you should be able to pick and choose what’s meaningful to you.”

The website is open to the public and has no expiration date, as the group aims to make this an ongoing conversation.

“It’s not a one and done, it’s not that white paper that’s thrown on your desk and just sits there,” Rosso said. “We consider it an evolution, and we hope that our issuing this report in the form of a microsite really is a conversation starter, because we don’t think one person or one entity representing the profession has all of the answers. But we do think that all of the stakeholders in the profession working together will be required to actually effect meaningful change in education for CPAs.”

AICPA recognized a dramatic shift over the past few years in how members engaged with the organization to complete their continuing education programs. Rosso said the group looked beyond its own walls and noticed a similar trend in the broader association community.

“Every professional association is dealing with some kind of change,” she said. “We’ve been talking to other groups about what we did and what our evolving learning model should look like, so this is something that extends well beyond just the CPA profession.”

One lesson AICPA has learned, Rosso said, is that involving members and key stakeholders in decisions that have the potential to change the landscape of an industry is a great way to spark meaningful conversations.

“Anytime you bring your membership together and explore that change and see, ‘OK, where can we go from here, where are the possibilities?’ it’s an awesome opportunity,” she said. “One of the things that stops associations from doing that at times is that they aren’t always sure what that one right answer is. We hope that we’re demonstrating through this that you don’t always have to have one right answer—maybe it’s enough just to start the conversation.”

Rob Stott

Rob Stott is an assistant editor at Associations Now. More »

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