Dsc02172 I just got back from the NASBA Continuing Professional Education Conference at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. With record-breaking attendance of close to 200, the conference was well attended by leading CPA firms’ training directors, CPE sponsors and regulators. It was a great conference and, as always, I learned a lot, made some new friends and received a great update on the state of CPE.

The conference was opened by Maryland’s own Wes Johnson, current chair of the NASBA board. (Wes is a former chair of the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Maryland State Board of Public Accountancy.) Wes talked about the importance of lifelong learning in keeping the CPA profession strong and protecting the public trust through our demonstration of that learning through the discipline of CPE.

Trust, learning objectives, performance skills and the generations
The buzz at the conference was that it was the best conference yet. I like to think that we played a small part in that, as four of the speakers came from our own Business Learning Institute. Dsc02132

The conference opened with BLI instructor Greg Conderacci talking about how important trust is to business and how trust can actually speed up how fast your business can go. I loved one of his slides, which featured a Covey quote from the book, Speed of Trust, that answers the question, “What if you train everyone and they leave?” The response is, “What if you don’t train them and they STAY?”

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Next up was BLI speaker Ray Perry, who did a session on the “Importance of Learning Objectives and Outcomes.” Ray’s session was interactive and practical. One of Ray’s main points was the importance of performance skills in training. I love Ray’s use of “performance skills” in place of the phrase I hate — “soft skills.” In fact, I have heard these skills called “hard skills,” as they are often much harder to learn and apply than technical skills. Ray used the acronym P-M-R (Performance – Morale – Retention) to indicate the result of effective performance skills training. See my earlier blog postings on this titled, “Five ways CPA firms can deal with their most pressing issues” and “Are you creating negative intellectual capital?” Ray is great at practical performance-based skills like conflict resolution, team building and supervisory skills.

Dsc02128 BLI instructor Lin Kroeger (that’s Lin talking with Ray Perry, at left) gave us some useful insights on teaching multiple generations in her session on “Adult Learning Styles and Motivation.” Lin woke everyone up to the challenges that lie ahead in teaching and reaching four generations at the same time! The highlight was a slide she had redone by a “millennial” and the e-mail she received explaining the “why” behind her suggested design. It was a real eye-opener. Lin spends a whole day teaching about these generations and has workshops in her course to implement corporate changes needed to harness the power of the diverse characteristics these multi-generations provide.

Speaking of generations: Do you Web 2.0 and have a Second Life?
Later the same day, we heard a session on “Podcasting: What it means to CPE” by Ray Schroeder,  director of Technology-Enhanced Learning for the University of Illinois at Springfield. Ray’s presentation included some great looks at how higher education is positioning itself to reach the “net generation.” He talked about various formats and constant access. He posts all of his lectures as podcasts, posts PowerPoints online so students have 24/7 access to all of the learning. I see some real changes for us in the CPE business!

While his focus was podcasting, his presentation was really about Web 2.0 technologies as he covered blogs, wikis, podcasts, video podcasts and other social media — like Second Life. Ray said the U of Illinois is in the process of building virtual classrooms in Second Life that will be hosting classes by the fall of 2007. He closed with a statement: “If you are teaching to the students who are graduating in the next few years, you had better have a working knowledge of Second Life, because they will be using that platform.”

Wow, I am glad we are beginning to explore Second Life! Rocky_maddaloni_003_2

Later that evening, there was a lot of discussion about Second Life and how it could be used to tap into the next generation of college students that all CPAs are interested in. I hope to be meeting many of the attendees in Second Life real soon.

For more on how we are using Second Life, see my posts at:

For a complete listing of the BLI’s performance skills training, see our online catalog.

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