The approach in this essay will be to dip into some firsthand experience of an online learning course in the accountancy sector. A number of models around the delivery of professional accountancy courses were experienced over a number of years. The essay will critically examine one case in particular, discussing and assessing the learning environment while also critically evaluating standards and best practice.
The Learning Environment Case Study
My first experience of a comprehensive online learning course was while undertaking a repeat taxation course with a private college for one of the larger accountancy bodies a number of years ago. The approach was new and it was a change from the prior semester lectures undertaken through the onsite part time evening and weekend course from February to June. There was a long revision weekend (Friday to Sunday) and mock exam in May, followed by final exam in June. The repeat course (September to December) was delivered through online lectures and distance learning for a reduced fee (in parallel to the standard course but starting two weeks later) finishing with the same revision process. One would assume the idea was that as students were somewhat familiar with the topic first time around, they could cherry pick online lectures to log on to, as well as reduce attendance numbers onsite and course costs.
There was a brief introductory onsite face to face tutorial where we collected our materials comprising a combination of books, questions and sample answer bank. We were then given a demonstration on Moodle, shown where to find materials followed by question and answer session. We were told that the next onsite classes would be for revision and mock in November and we had the facility to log live to classes. We were directed to email contact details for the lecturer as well as a help blog for students. First impressions were that it seemed very user friendly and straightforward enough. The distance learning element implied reduced commute times and increased time for study, both of which were appealing. There would be study and self practice and one could query as they went.
Having developed a study plan based on strengths/weaknesses, priority lectures to log in to were identified (approx 20-30 hours). Access and study would involve staying late in the office and a smart phone connection was not an option.
The first topics on ‘Stamp Duty and fundamental Capital Gains and Acquisition Taxes’, were straight forward, so the second lecture on ‘Trusts’ the following Tuesday would be the first attempt to log in. Firstly despite having a good internet connection in the office, both the video and audio kept buffering and segments of the lecture were lost (picture and sound). The technology appeared to be a form of audio conferencing rather than video conferencing identified by (Neal and Miller 2005). Secondly the lecturer used a tablet with PowerPoint and other software to do calculations which were...