CBEs need CBT

It’s time for tuition providers to step out of the dark ages and appreciate the need to teach exams in the manner in which they are examined. We are fast moving to a point where all professional exams are computer based, so shouldn’t this be reflected in the manner in which we teach?

I see students coming out of school, college or university who have only known working on laptops for whom writing or using a calculator are viewed in much the same way as I would view a quill or chalk and slate. So the question is, why do tutors persist in using a pen?

I think we know the answer and it has something to do with dogs being old. A well-prepared lecture using a mix of Excel, Word and possibly PowerPoint opens new opportunities for teaching and learning while better reflecting the work environment for all accounting students.

SO how do we get the best out of the medium? We have all heard of ‘death by PowerPoint’ and I agree that overuse can kill any presentation (I mean, when is it polite to snore in class?). At the same time, selective PowerPoint slides can give a coherence and structure otherwise lacking in a wider presentation.

For computational subjects the key is how to get the most out of a spreadsheet presentation. The ‘clever’ bit relates to how something can be easily copied and replicated, meaning that you need robust pro formas for all aspects of the paper. It improves presentation also provides students with a critical exam skill.

Furthermore, the spreadsheet may be tweaked again and again in such a way to show slightly differing interpretations of the same problem, giving an opportunity to enhance understanding and knowledge.

Depth and structure

Using Word may not give rise to such benefits at first viewing, but at a simple level your plan can be converted seamlessly into headers for your answer.

For a higher level question requiring depth and structure, when developing an argument you may wish to have five or six threads of pros and cons. So why not bang them out in isolation as you work through the narrative once you have enough cut and pasted into a more coherent whole?

What I am suggesting here is only scratching the surface of what can be done to massively improve the teaching of accounting students. I am sure many tutors can be more creative than me.

There are no excuses for tutors to play the Luddite.

My plaintive call is for all tutors to catch up and ditch that pen! As a student you should demand it.

· Rob Sowerby is Director of Professional Courses at LSBF