A friend shared a news article with me recently about a local school district that is opening an imagination lab. The idea behind the imagination lab is that it creates new, fun and innovative ways for elementary students to learn. It accomplishes this by creating an environment where students can play, create and experiment …  all while making learning fun and creative, and most of all, not seem like learning.

Learning futureWhen I read the article, it made me think about how we at the Indiana CPA Society are trying to do the “adult” version of this. In fact, the CPA Center of Excellence® is a leader in new approaches to learning and has already achieved significant statewide and national recognition in just three short years of existence. In previous blogs, and in INCPAS news publications, we have talked a lot about trying to transform the current learning model and what should count as professional development for CPAs.

Think about how you truly gain the knowledge to perform your job. Is it from sitting in a classroom or meeting room and listening to someone lecture you, or is it from experimenting, doing, and talking to people including your peers and mentors? I believe most would say the second option offers greater potential for effective learning and retention, and studies have proven it.

Soon, thanks to a new law awaiting the Governor’s signature, we will be able to get credit for “non-traditional” learning when it’s time to renew our CPA licenses in Indiana. I am anxious to see how this law change plays out in the coming months and years. What systems will be put in place by the Board of Accountancy to track and monitor non-traditional learning? How will CPAs react to this new flexibility in learning? Will it be accepted? I sure hope so. And as we move to the future, what new learning options will be developed?

We all learn in different ways. Professional development shouldn’t rely on a one-size fits all approach. The new law won’t eliminate traditional methods of learning, but it will add innovative methods for those of us looking for new and better approaches. The goal of continuous professional development is to make all of us better at our jobs, and this seems like a great way to truly achieve that goal.