Social Learning: The Future of CPE?

I attended a meeting last week hosted by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). As a CPE Sponsor, we follow the rules set by this agency for administering CPE credits to our nationwide audience. There are some proposed changes to the standards under discussion--mostly focused on requirements the course developers need to satisfy.  

What really intrigued me though was the topic of “social learning.” During the conference, we heard from several learning experts who shared information about how people learn and how today’s technology is being used for informal learning. Interesting stuff.
I have to admit that it was disheartening to hear a learning expert explain that classroom learning is not how our brains are built to learn and that only 10% of our learning comes from formal training of any kind. It’s on the job training where we really learn and retain information. Because it is social and built on a model of collaboration and trial and error which is how we learn best.
If this is true, are we using an outdated model for our continuing education requirements?  We haven’t even begun to figure out how to track professional learning from a means other than traditional classroom style learning. Even the new version of the classroom (live webinar/webcast) is still built on the old model of measuring contact time (namely the 50 minute hour).
It struck me that CPE Link and other CPE sponsors may be spending too much time focused on the quality of the content, when it may be that the delivery system is becoming just as important a measure of successful learning for the end user – the CPA.
Hearing speeches titled “The World has Changed, So Why Not Higher Education?”and “Learning with Avatars: How Virtual Worlds are Redefining the Classroom,” makes me worry that our industry is lagging little bit behind the times.

What do you think the future of continuing education will look like?

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by Sue Anderson - Based on 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently program director for online CPE provider, CPE Link. Formerly with the California CPA Education Foundation managing key operational areas including marketing, program development, and distance learning.

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