Even before the Covid-19 pandemic swept the world, learning online was growing in popularity.
Whether it’s entire courses held online, with classes, tutorials, exams and research all undertaken virtually, or schools, colleges and universities incorporating aspects of online learning into their programmes, online or e-learning has been making waves for some time.
And ACCA members and future members know this all too well, with many of our Approved Learning Providers (ALPs) embracing new technology to ensure a cutting-edge service. ACCA is also taking considerable steps to provide its qualifications online, giving greater flexibility and access to all.
The Covid-19 factor
Imagine the impact the coronavirus has had on education. At one point it’s thought that nearly 1.5 billion children in 186 countries were affected by school closures. This forced schools to adapt quickly in an effort to provide ‘education as usual’ online. The same is true of colleges and universities all over the world, with digital platforms becoming the new classrooms virtually overnight.
Likewise, we’re on hand to support our members and future members, and those considering their next steps. Deciding to study ACCA can seem like
a big decision on a normal day, but in the current context of a world affected by Covid-19, it might seem even bigger.
But it’s worth considering that the expertise and unique knowledge of accountants and finance professionals will be invaluable in supporting businesses, the public sector and non-governmental organisations globally to navigate their way out of the crisis and through the altered post-pandemic landscape.
Be a part of ACCA’s virtual open day
So we brought together some of our recently qualified members in virtual open days to answer questions about studying ACCA, and what it’s like being part of the ACCA community. Meanwhile, a few of our ALPs discuss the online learning experience and how technology has evolved to enhance the online student experience. You can still watch these OnDemand, but we’ve also put together the highlights for you below – along with the key benefits of learning online.
Learn more, more quickly
Research suggests that students retain 25-60% more material via e-learning compared to only 8-10% in a classroom. This is explained by the fact that students learn faster online, with e-learning requiring 40-60% less time than a classroom.
Flexibility and great student experience
‘There is a minimum expectation that has come from the classroom of what students need to know and learn, but online education allows you to take this further,’ said Conor Motyer, ACCA course director at Learnsignal. ‘It gives students not only the flexibility to study and approach learning in the most efficient way, but it allows them to do so at a time that suits them.’
Online learning is focused on a student’s experience, continued Motyer. ‘We’re able to collate all the data we have of different students and then tailor the experience for individuals, not only in a way that allows the student to be as engaged as possible, their study to be as effective as possible, but also in the way that we know leads to the best results. And it gives you all of this at your fingertips whenever you want and wherever you are in the world.’
Accountants increasingly work online
Many employers have had to adapt how they work during the pandemic, which has meant accountants are working remotely online to continue service delivery for clients or performing finance function duties. Studying online can provide a strong background of online and remote experience and help the transition to modern ways of working.
The accountancy profession is technologically innovative
There is a lot of technological change taking place within the profession, with accountants increasingly working in the cloud on specialist software. For example, automation, artificial intelligence, blockchain are big data are all changing the way accountants not only work, but the possibility of what they can deliver to organisations. So again, being comfortable working with new technology and possibly as part of remote teams is something you can begin learning via virtual education.
Online learning is engaging and innovative
Online classes can be recorded, so you don’t have to take as many notes and you can pay more attention during the lesson. New technology can also make the lessons more engaging and interesting, with visualisations, videos, live quizzes, chats and group work among some of the functions available on digital education platforms.
Customised and personalised study experiences thanks to technology
‘Before a student begins studying at Golden Education, they undergo assessments so the school can best understand them and their strong and weak points, said Ruoshi Chen, the director of Global Strategy and Corporate Development. ‘We will then personalise their study plans and give them customised tutoring, while monitoring their studies and testing. Our Learning Management System will also track their study behaviour, for example, it will note the parts of videos they’ve watched repeatedly and which they might find difficult to comprehend. We’ve also accumulated four million data points of student study behaviour to better enable us to customise the experience for every student. We really want to make it a personalised and highly interactive process and platform.’
Online learning is not a ‘second best’ choice
‘Think of online learning as the same as a face-to-face classroom except you get it virtually and with added benefits you wouldn’t get in a classroom environment’’ said Barry Hall-Raine FCCA, head of Global Tuition Provider Solutions at BPP Professional Education. ‘What you’re actually doing is embarking on an online learning programme that will keep you motivated and provide the structure that you need to ultimately be successful in the exams’.
A marriage between technology and quality education
‘It is about a marriage between the best in technology and best in educational content and teaching,’ said Matilda Crossman FCCA, executive director at ExP Group. ‘The approach to online learning for professional qualifications like ACCA, which is rewarding but demanding, needs to be very methodical, provide pointed guidance and replicate what’s happening in the classroom, but with the additional benefits, and that’s what a 21st century learning is offering.’
Online learning has come a long way from online PowerPoints
‘Many people still think of the old style e-learning format when they think of online learning, which can put many people off, when actually, while you may still see some of the old-fashioned way of doing things – clicking through PowerPoint presentations, for example – online learning is now so much more than that,’ said Tanya Worsely FCA, head of International Markets at Kaplan.
‘It’s designed to be really engaging and interactive, as much as sitting in a face-to-face classroom. It also means we can respond to events such as Covid-19 with very little interruption to studies. It’s an environment that a student can tailor to themselves, while also interacting with other students all over the world doing the same qualification.’
Online learning is not isolated
‘You might be learning remotely, but you’re not learning alone’ says Moneeza Siddiqui, centre head – SKANS Ecampus, SKANS School of Accountancy ‘We try to make the experience not an isolated one, which is a key concern many students initially have about online learning.’ We aim to make study support highly engaging and customised for individual students, involving tutor teams and support teams to help them stay on track and achieve their study and exam goals.
Online saves times
Online education is more accessible. There’s no commuting to class. You can jump out of bed and join a lesson. This can give you more time to study and plan your day outside of learning commitments, and if you decide to relocate to a different city or even country – you can still continue your studies uninterrupted.
If you’re interested in learning more about studying online we’ve put together some links you may find useful.