3 reasons it’s time to embrace virtual learning

Shutterstock_1635991822The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has made an impact worldwide like generations of us have never seen. From how we buy groceries, the ways we socialize, school our children and work, our current normal is often virtual.

Suddenly, you’re working from home in your sweatpants (admit it) and holding meetings via videoconferencing. You might feel uncomfortable with the technology you’re now forced to use. The good news is you’re learning on the job. When life gets back to normal, many of you will have picked up a new technology skill or two that you’ll continue to use for work or even in your personal life.

Getting comfortable with new technology positions you to adopt another important skill: virtual learning. Here are three reasons to embrace virtual learning:

1. You can learn at your convenience.

Through the power of mobile devices and the internet, you can learn when, where and how you want. Have ten minutes to learn about cybersecurity while dinner is in the oven? No problem — there’s a webcast for that. Miss our COVID-19 business continuity best practices webcast and want to know what was said? We have you covered. You also can listen to a podcast during your daily walk or run.

Speaking of podcasts, the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants®, the global voice of the AICPA® and CIMA®, offers several resources to keep you updated on all things finance and accounting. Here are a few you should check out:

  • Go Beyond Disruption, a free podcast developed for public and management accountants
  • Journal of Accountancy, a free podcast created to talk about key issues the accounting profession faces
  • Small Firm Philosophy, a free podcast that shares big ideas about small firms
  • FM magazine, a source for management accounting news, in-depth analysis of key business issues and best practices finance professionals should know about

 2. You can learn at your own pace.

The beauty of virtual learning is that it allows you to digest chunks of information at your speed. Science has shown that people learn better when information is given to them in multiple segments. You can still work toward that certificate program that takes hours to complete. But walk away after an allotted amount of time and come back later. The exact break time needed varies by person, so know the limits of your attention span and do what’s best for you.

Because our on-demand society wants everything fast, quick learning opportunities are easy to find. Pick a few blogs,  like this one, and bookmark them to constantly learn and keep up with the accounting and finance profession.

Also, our AICPA Coronavirus Resource Center offers a library of quick-learning content to keep you up to date on the latest COVID-19 news, including articles, videos and podcasts.

3. You can attend a conference when you can’t travel.

Virtual learning allows you to participate in conferences when traveling isn’t possible. For more than 10 years, the AICPA has offered virtual attendance at many of our conferences, giving you the flexibility to learn at the office, the local coffee shop or at home.

Our largest event of the year for accounting and finance professionals, ENGAGE, normally offers on-site and online attendance. Because of COVID-19, ENGAGE 2020 will only be online this year. The event offers some of the same on-site ambiance and liveliness to the online experience, as well as timely, relevant content that provides CPE credit.

And, finally, a few quick tips for your virtual learning journey:

  • Start small. If you’ve never done virtual learning before, don’t make your first attempt an hours-long certificate program. Try a 5–10 minute video, a podcast or even a one-hour webinar.
  • Take a few minutes to reflect when you’re done learning. Ask yourself what you can apply to your job now and what can wait until later.
  • Find your ideal time to learn. It varies for each person. But most will agree that learning is best when your brain is focused, not when you’re on deadline or the children are running around you.
  • Get comfy. Find your favorite chair, perhaps near a window for some natural light, and open your mind to the possibilities of what you can learn.
  • Make it happen. Wake up with determination. Put your learning in your calendar just like you would a meeting.

While COVID-19 has changed the way we work, you’re probably surprised at what you can do without leaving home, including continuing to learn.

Michael McKenzie Grant, MFA, Director, Learning Design and Development , Association of International Certified Professional Accountants