Impact of Project
Ernst & Young Professor of Accounting
University of Waterloo
Phone: (519) 888-4567 ext 5774
fax: (519) 888-7562
Associate Prof. Acc & MIS
Saint Mary's University
Phone: (902) 420-5623
fax: (902) 420-5119
Robert Parker, Partner, Deloitte & Touche
Robert Taylor, Partner, Price Waterhouse
Bill Swirsky, CICA
An exploratory research study on the impact of the Internet and other information technology tools on accounting education and training and their delivery systems in Canada. This research project is designed to improve existing accounting educational delivery systems in both the academic and professional educational environments. Its primary focus will be on exploring and documenting the innovative use of information technology (IT), of which the Internet will be a major part and to improve the effectiveness accounting educational delivery systems at the pre-certification (university), qualifying (UFE preparation), and post-certification levels (professional development).
Information technology changes (with specific focus on the evolution of the technologies leading to the development of the Internet) and globalization are having and will continue to have a tremendous impact on the traditional environments of accounting educators and accounting practitioners in Canada. As recognized in the June 1996 CICA Vision Task Force's Report, changes in traditional infrastructures both in accounting education and practice are necessary to respond to these new environmental challenges. The accounting community in Canada cannot afford to ignore these changes and challenges if we are to maintain and strengthen our profession. IT and the Internet are seen both as stimulants of this changing environment and as effective mediums for new tools and resources in response to the challenges which IT presents. The Internet provides a very powerful knowledge acquisition and knowledge networking tool. Combined with many recent advances in multi-media computer technologies, the Internet offers opportunities in educational delivery systems which heretofore never existed. Effective use of these new tools and resources will enable the accounting community to maintain and expand its value added capabilities.
This study will examine how the Internet and other information technology products are affecting current accounting educational delivery systems, identify opportunities, problems and trends in Internet and IT usage and provide guidelines and design/decision criteria for their effective use by accounting academics and practitioners alike. By increasing the use of these powerful tools, the accounting community in Canada will be better equipped to leverage its intellectual capital.
Major problems and issues which will be addressed.
a. The Internet, as an evolving medium of communications amongst users of various levels of expertise and as an access path to volumes of data and information, provides a tremendous challenge and opportunity to practitioners who wish to respond to its impact on traditional transactions and business relations (e.g. electronic commerce), and to educators who wish to use it as means of enriching students (both pre and post graduation or certification) learning experiences. Efficient and effective use of any tool however, comes only with knowledge of the tools capabilities, which reduces user's initial fears of change, a perceived need to use the tool, and ready access or availability to its use. With access/availability issues becoming less of a problem due to declining cost of both desktop computing technology (including multi-media) and Internet connection time, the principal deterrents to more effective Internet and IT usage in accounting are lack of knowledge of its capabilities and benefits which can occur from its use.
b. Much has been written on the Internet and the IT both in hard copy and electronic form (on the Internet itself) from various perspectives. As well, recent CA Magazine articles and the Vision Task Force Report have identified and described the need for accounting professionals and educators to more effectively use information technology. Little however, has been written specifically from an accounting and accounting education perspective on how to use these tools to add value to the services which they provide. With time being a scarce commodity for most accounting professionals and academics, very few have investigated the impact of this powerful new information medium and even fewer are taking advantage of what it has to offer. For example, a 1995 survey of 100 business school web sites throughout the world, carried out at the University of Waterloo found that the vast majority of these web sites were of low usefulness. Accounting academic department sites were generally of lower quality than the business school sites.
The purpose of this project is to explore these issues from an accounting educational perspective and to organize and produce a report which explains what this medium has to offer accounting practitioners and academics in Canada and to provide the means to encourage and enable them to begin to design and integrate the effective use of these powerful knowledge tools into their educational delivery systems.
Impact of project
1. increase awareness and access to the educational opportunities presented to the accounting community via more effective use of Internet and IT resources,
2. accelerate the rate of use and development of innovative information based products or services available for accounting academics and practitioners e.g. multi-media or web based accounting teaching/professional development materials, etc.
3. increase the number of professional accountants and accounting educators more effectively using this medium of communication which will lead to a strong Canadian accounting presence on the Internet.
1. improve communications between the accounting professional and academic communities in Canada and globally by increasing the awareness of the common interest of both and the means of more effectively communicating and sharing resources, e.g. E-mail, discussion groups, electronic seminars, chat sessions etc.
2. help to develop an accounting community which can provide a higher quality of cost effective services to its principal clients and provide leadership in the development of accounting as a knowledge based, vibrant and exciting discipline/profession with information technology knowledge and skills that are valued and in demand in both a national and international marketplace.
The activities, outputs or deliverables of Phase 1 of this project will be:
Activity 1 - Internet and IT usage field research which will examine how these technologies are currently being used today in Canada and abroad. This review will cover common usage practices in both the business and academic environments. A combination of observation interview and survey techniques will be employed to gather and analyze this data. This step will provide a preliminary report on where we are now with respect to Internet and Information technology usage. A preliminary report summarizing this research would be prepared.
Activity 2 - Detailed literature review on the impact of information technology on improving learning. (i.e. effectiveness) What technology products work? What doesn't. What are the possible effectiveness measures and what design criteria are important to be considered by anyone contemplating the usage of these technologies in their delivery systems? What implementation issues need to be addresses to improve the success of such projects? This research would go well beyond what is being done solely in the area of accounting and would look at many other disciplines for the possibility of transference to accounting education. (A preliminary report documenting this activity would be prepared)
Activity 3 - Specific development and application tools identified in activities 1 & 2 would be researched in more detail to determine specific features as well as design and implementation issues.
(Major report) From the above steps an electronic document/report in hypertext markup language (HTML) which reviews the trends, problems and opportunities in using the Internet and other IT resources in the delivery of accounting education would be prepared. In addition to the inclusion of parts 1-3 above this report would provide a development and implementation guide which would be aimed at identifying appropriate design and implementation criteria for the use of these technologies in the delivery of accounting education at any of the three levels; pre-certification, qualification and post certification. Extensive use of hyperlinks to existing sources of information available on the Internet and examples of the technologies discussed will be included in this document. The major purpose of this document is to provide the reader with a useful tool/guide to assess the most appropriate technology options available to them and to provide online access to real examples via the Internet where ever possible.
A National/International Accounting (Education) conference or a series of workshops in 1998-99 aimed at presenting the results of the workshop. This could perhaps be co-ordinate with CAAA activities such as CAAA annual conference or possible education conference/workshops.
Recommendations on areas for further research and development in Phase II of this project if continuance is approved. Phase II would seen as a more advanced and detailed development of specific areas identified in Phase I.