The impact of the virtual university on accounting and business education

A new publication explores the rapidly expanding relationship between technology and education delivery and the impact for business and accounting education.

The Virtual University: Impact on Australian Accounting and Business Education, is co-edited by Assoc. Prof. Elaine Evans and Prof. James Guthrie from Macquarie University, with Prof. Roger Burritt from the University of South Australia.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Produced by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia in conjunction with the University of South Australia’s Centre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability (CAGS), the text explores the many opportunities and challenges for tertiary educators bought on by this evolving education environment.

The text investigates how technological advances and the rise of online education offerings, including massive open online courses (MOOCs), are changing the higher education landscape. In a series of papers by practitioners and academics, the potential impact of this transformation on business and accounting education is explored.

Currently over three million students globally are taking part in MOOCs. As Prof. Guthrie observes on his blog, the access that MOOCs provide have the potential to make future generations more educated than any previous generation, but they also bring many challenges, including high attrition rates and concerns over quality of learning outcomes.

The papers are designed to stimulate discussion around how traditional universities can adapt to the changing market and develop strategies that ultimately create the best possible outcomes for students and professions.

In their introduction to the publication, Guthrie, Burritt and Evans discuss the competitive threat that MOOCs pose to the traditional higher education model of university, with its bricks and mortar. This threat is currently restricted because MOOCs do not offer qualifications, course majors or an on-campus student experience. Nevertheless this could change rapidly, and business schools and accounting departments need to incorporate technology into teaching as part of a blended learning approach.

The issues facing business and accounting education include: the quality of learning outcomes in both a blended learning and MOOC environment; public scrutiny over student qualifications; and the lack of a campus experience for students who want to enter a profession which requires graduate capabilities such as communication skills.

Guthrie, Burritt and Evans conclude that, despite the number of challenges that face a virtual university, accounting and business educators and the accounting profession will have abundant opportunities to collaborate over issues such as credentialing of future business professionals; the quality of blended learning experiences for students; and the production of quality, interactive teaching and learning resources.

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