Digital Darwinism: Digitising the Classroom

accapr —  20 January 2014 — Leave a comment


By Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA Vice President of Research

Take a glimpse inside any classroom today and you’ll notice something obvious: digital technology is reshaping education. And it’s not only changing what’s inside the classroom, but what’s going on outside classroom walls as well, in the comfort and privacy of learners’ homes and offices.

This fact, and its implications for the accounting profession and business landscape, is just one of the trends identified and analysed by a recent report from ACCA and IMA, “Digital Darwinism: Thriving in the Face of Technology Change,”

Of course, the advent of digital technology is nothing new. It began with the internet and as digital technology has evolved and expanded, so has its capacity to allow access to innovations such as live and interactive online classrooms, as well as their latest incarnation: massive open online learning courses, or MOOCs.

In tandem with the acceleration of digital technology, educational techniques also are changing, reflecting the new demands of computer-based learning and exploiting the new possibilities created by emerging technologies.

Employees, employers, teachers, and education providers are just beginning to explore the myriad possibilities, but as the role of digital technologies grows, so does the potential for:

  • increasing flexibility, access, and choice in education
  • customised, personalised, and optimised learning
  • attracting and retaining younger generations in the workforce
  • increasing the global mobility of professional talent
  • higher levels of student engagement
  • innovative approaches to lifelong learning
  • new educational business models
  • a rich, diverse, and inclusive virtual education ecosystem, and
  • a global, knowledge-based economy where creativity and innovation are the benchmarks of success.

Digital technology is underpinning an even more radical educational delivery system – MOOCs – which offer access to interactive online courses on a vast scale. Among their unique features, MOOCs usually offer enrolment to anyone, regardless of their level of education, and many (though not all) MOOCs and their learning materials are free.

Fortunately, accountancy training has been quick to employ emerging technologies and tap into their potential to enrich learning. For example, there are several global web-based classes where students can interact in a virtual classroom, in real time and with a live tutor.

Among other examples, the software provider SAP (known among accountants for its enterprise resource planning systems) is working with the Hasso Plattner Institute to provide MOOCs on topics that support people who work in the SAP ecosystem. And employers such the insurer Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) are using MOOCs as an alternative to classroom-based solutions and off-the-shelf e-learning tools.

These developments, and others like them, make it clear that digital technology is here to stay. The question now is only how best to adapt and use this technology to enhance access and ease of learning for all.

You can read more about this and other technology trends that are impacting the accounting profession by visiting the ACCA and IMA website,


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