Supporting CPAs through online learning.
As education in general has moved toward a competency-based approach to ensure individuals can learn in the format that is most effective for them, the Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) is following suit to provide better professional development opportunities for its members.
Its CPA Center of Excellence, a 2016 Power of A Summit Award winner, hosts online gateways and modules covering vital business skills, including collaboration and networking, decision making, communication, entrepreneurship, critical thinking, and leadership. A points system and social learning aspect that requires users to share responses builds engagement for program participants.
“We’re dealing with an antiquated model of learning for professionals,” INCPAS President and CEO Gary Bolinger, CAE, says. “And the long return benefit is we’re trying to attract attention and make some progress on saying there’s a better way to ensure a professional is competent in today’s world.”
The learning center, which INCPAS launched in April 2014, works to make education easier and more flexible by allowing CPAs to learn at their own pace in their own time. “What we’re trying to do with our efforts, which began probably five years ago, is think about knowledge acquisition, learning, and professional development in a different kind of way as it relates to renewing one’s professional license,” Bolinger says.
Most states require CPAs to complete 40 in-person training hours each year to renew their license. In 2014, Indiana became the first state to permit CPAs to take competency-based courses, which waived some hours through a pilot program. A current proposal in the state legislature would allow competency-based learning to fully qualify for certificate renewal. Already, the learning center’s ethics course fulfills those requirements.
“Not everybody’s learning styles or learning preferences are the same,” Bolinger says. “So these types of competency-based online courses are going to appeal to people who like that format more than someone who might prefer a seminar or a conference or a self-study approach to learning.”
And to also support the next generation, INCPAS has partnered with two Indiana colleges to provide students enrolled in business classes access to Center of Excellence learning resources.