It is unlikely to be a surprise to most that the ways and methods of providing continuing professional education courses to those in the accounting profession are facing challenges in adapting to the newest technologies.  Currently continuing education courses are primarily offered through a classroom lecture or through a live or recorded webcast – also in the format of a lecture without a physical person present to facilitate.  However there is a growing need to evolve the professional development area to include different types of technology.  Technological developments have fundamentally shifted the way people learn and engage with material being taught. 

The Needs of Young Professionals

The need for a shift in learning methods is noted the most in new professionals starting their accounting careers.  Young professionals starting their careers are coming from a college environment that used methods other than lecturing for teaching students.  Students learned collaboratively through working on projects with other students, often electronically, and through verbal debating with one another, facilitated by an instructor.  These new professionals have different expectations for learning than previously used for continuing education.

Types of Innovation

To keep up with current and future learning needs, new types of innovations are being pursued.  One of these innovations is the use of virtual reality for teaching.  Those taking a course through virtual reality would wear virtual reality headsets and receive continuing professional education courses through a different experience.  This type of learning is being actively tested but is not currently mainstream due to the high cost of virtual reality headsets, which are pricey.  Another type of learning that is available for professionals to use is self-selective adaptive learning.  A self-selective adaptive learning program allows individuals taking the course to customize it based on their needs.  An algorithm or other analytical tool is used to determine the learner’s skill level and the course is customized as it is taken to meet the learner’s needs.  Depending upon the learner’s competencies, several ‘paths’ are available for teaching the required concepts for credit.   

Technology Challenges

One of the biggest challenges for adapting new technologies as part of continuing education programs is the hours calculation for determining credit.  The challenge lies in incorporating the new methods and experience into the hourly continuing professional education requirements for Certified Public Accounting licensing renewal purposes.  There is an hourly measurement challenge because these new types of courses may not fit easily into an hourly system.  Courses that offer hands-on experiences may not fit easily into the current hourly recognition system.  The amount of time one person needs to complete a course may differ from the time needed by a different person.  The adaptive learning program has procedures in place to assist in calculating the number of hours earned by the self-selective course.    


The conversation of the challenges of integrating technology into the continuing professional education program required for Certified Public Accounting licensing and renewal is likely to continue for years to come.