My CPE, Your CPE

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By Gail Perry, CPA - I taught continuing education classes for the Indiana CPA Society for 10 years. With small exception, the classes I taught were hands-on, computer application sessions, taught in the Society's computer lab. It's one thing to teach a class where you can walk in with prepared notes, give your lecture, and slip out the back. But the hands-on environment is a different world.

An average class had 10 to 12 students in it, but occasionally we'd double-up on the computers, so there could be as many as 24. Picture the scene: A room filled with a dozen or so students, all expecting to learn about "Advanced Excel Techniques." Except, what's the definition of Advanced Excel Techniques? Some users think Advanced means learning about Visual Basic programming or PivotTables. Others think Advanced means learning how to format multiple worksheets at the same time. Still others think they are advanced students if they already know how to use the =SUM command and are ready to move on to =AVERAGE.

Then there are the students who think a day in the computer lab means 8 hours of CPE in exchange for playing Spider on the computer all day.

As an instructor, I would greet each class, take a few minutes to get to know some basics about the students' skills and expectations, and then mold the basic class material to fit the needs of the participants. Every day was a new challenge, trying to bridge the gap between those students who wanted to rush ahead into the tricky material and those who were struggling to find the Escape key.

My hat goes off to anyone who steps up to the podium and takes on the challenge of training intelligent, competent adults who once thought they were finished being students when they received their college diplomas.

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