We’ve been talking a lot about the CPA Center of Excellence® lately … on this blog, at the Professional Issues Update, and through a variety of other INCPAS communications pieces, both print and digital. And for good reason. The CPA Center of Excellence® is a huge undertaking and its potential to help CPAs achieve success in the future is far reaching.

SimulationLearningIcon-300x291One of the reasons we keep talking about it is that there are many pieces to it, and it takes an understanding to see how they all work together. There’s the competency study where CPAs can identify their skill levels and gaps, and benchmark themselves against others. Wouldn’t you like to know how you measure up? And where you need to improve? Who wouldn’t!

Once you know where you stand, there’s the Quick Start Guide that takes you on a step-by step process for improving those vital skills, using checklists, frameworks and charts, and includes descriptors that describe five progressing levels of seven critical success skills (the core competencies of the CPA profession). The book helps you or your HR department put together a plan to improve and position yourself for career advancement.

A big part of that plan is developing those skills in which you are lacking to the level you want to attain, and that’s where the online interactive courses come in. These innovative learning modules can be taken at any time, on any device, and are competency-based, so you have to demonstrate you’ve absorbed the material before you continue on. Thanks to a pilot program with the Indiana Board of Accountancy, these courses (up to two of them) offer a CPE waiver that reduces your CPE requirement by 8 hours (maximum of two courses/16 hours). Better yet, upon completion, you earn a digital badge!

That leads me to the “live simulation events,” another one of the CPA Center of Excellence®’s components, but one that we haven’t talked about as much. Like the online interactive courses, these live courses are designed to enhance your skills and demonstrate the competency you’ve gained. These are more along the lines of traditional classroom courses, but the format is very nontraditional.

Each event starts with an hour-long introduction and overview of the task at hand involving a hypothetical situation you must resolve. The majority of the day will involve working with other participants in teams using the concept of live simulation, as you solve real problems, consider real circumstances, and devise a real plan. The last hour of the day will serve as a debrief session, as the teams share their process and actions as a “reflections in practice” for your take-away.

Three live simulation events are currently scheduled – November 18 on values based leadership, November 19 on communications skills and November 20 on critical thinking skills. INCPAS members are asked to only attend one since the set up and scenarios for all three will be similar. But again, like the online courses, these live events offer a new way of learning that is centered on competency development rather than hours spent in a classroom (they do count for 8 hours of CPE).

And I forgot to mention, these events will be led by David Griffiths, Ph.D., the Society’s advisor from Wales in the UK, and his colleague David Moffat from Scotland. Who wouldn’t want to learn from two experts who have a wealth of experience in these topics, and you get to listen to British accents to boot!

We plan to schedule more live simulation events in the future, but your input from these three events will be invaluable. So choose your adventure and help us shape the future of learning. This is better!