A New Accounting Resource
Tilly Jensen is Associate Dean of Pedagogy and Student Experience with Athabasca University’s Faculty of Business and she’s also the project lead for the creation of an open educational resource (OER) whereby tutorials are being created for the first and second intermediate accounting courses. The tutorials will be available online for free to students anywhere, not just enrolled at Athabasca University.
“My concern is that people will go: tutorials, big deal. But it is a big deal,” says Jensen. She goes on to explain that the project is unique in a few different ways. Firstly, the OER, which is being funded by Campus Alberta, is paralleling the new OER textbooks that were recently created through funding from the forward thinking Chartered Accountants Education Foundation (CAEF).
Jensen says there will be 30-40 tutorials and the lengths will vary depending upon the topics covered. The tutorials will also parallel web-based assessments—from a private Alberta company, Lyryx Learning Inc.—that students will have the option of purchasing for a small fee. Jensen hopes that the partnership will allow for the OERs to become sustainable.
The tutorials have the potential to be more current than most commercial products in addition more cost effective. In the past, the accounting faculty created tutorials based, in part, on end of chapter questions. But because many publishers change their textbooks along with end of chapter questions once every three years, the accounting faculty had to often also change the tutorials. “So, we were changing tutorials to match the publisher’s production cycle instead of matching changes when they occurred in the field of accounting,” says Jensen.
Created by Dr. Mark Morpurgo, a professional accountant and experienced instructor, the new tutorials may have a shelf life for years, rather than just months as was the case in the past. And Morpurgo plans to test the tutorials with a student control group at NAIT, where he’s teaching the course. “Before we officially release the tutorials, as a quality control measure, they will have gone through a reviewer who is a professional accountant teaching the course. We also hope to incorporate feedback received from students to make any necessary adjustments,” says Jensen.
Jensen believes the tutorials will be very beneficial for courses she describes as traditionally challenging. She hopes to see increased understanding and engagement with the subject matter. “Intermediate Accounting includes topics that students have never seen before—future income taxes, pensions, and leases—so if we can develop resources to help students get over those humps, maybe we will see students advance through their studies with improved understanding and greater success. We need to create learning resources that enhance flexibility for students and I think web-based tutorials are a part of that package,” she says.
And Jensen is optimistic that OERs will help education become more financially accessible domestically and abroad. “Textbooks are a major expense for students. I’ve often wondered if the cost of textbooks was the barrier that might have prevented a student somewhere from beginning or continuing in post-secondary education.” OERs certainly help Athabasca University meet its goals of accessible and flexible education.