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5 Ways to Develop Your Professional Skills Through Digital Learning

Shutterstock_264713135Disruption in the marketplace, changes to regulations, tax reform, technology advances and globalization make developing professional competencies more important than ever for CPAs. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, “continuous and persistent learning isn’t merely a decision. It must become a habit. And as such, it requires careful cultivation.”

Ongoing skill development is critical for maintaining your professional relevance. You need to dedicate time to continue your competency development. But where do you start, and how do you fit it in to your schedule? Digital learning activities provide opportunities to incorporate learning into your daily life and offer flexibility that a traditional classroom can’t. Here are five digital learning activities to try:

1. Social media

Leveraging social media to gain insights from thought leaders and peers around the globe is an easy way to incorporate digital learning into your development plan. Obtain valuable resource tips, find articles and discover infographics on LinkedIn. Exchange professional opinions in discussion forums pertaining to emerging industry trends and get peer input on your unique business challenges through your social channels. These guides from the AICPA can help you get started with best practices.

2. Podcasts

Podcasts provide you with an opportunity for hands-free learning. Listen to podcasts from industry leaders, authors, and keynote speakers while exercising or commuting. You can stimulate your mind while improving your body physically and utilize your commute time for your professional development.

3. Immersive online courses

A new and exciting trend in the evolution of online learning is the integration of 3D avatars and augmented reality. Real-world scenarios provide a powerful context for learning technical information, and interactive media with engaging graphics heighten the overall learning experience.

4. Resources from professional associations

Take advantage of online resources that typically come with most professional association memberships. Many membership packages, including the AICPA’s and your state CPA society’s, come with an online login to access digital toolkits, interactive e-books, videos from thought leaders and downloadable templates. You can find opportunities to obtain valuable insights, helpful resources and exposure to industry experts and stay up-to-date on the latest developments, enabling you to get the most out of your membership investment.

5. Online conferences

Conserve two of your most precious resources, time and money, while accessing all the conference content when you attend virtually. Online conferences help you save on travel expenses and time by offering live streaming so that you can participate via desktop or mobile from your office or home. These experiences are enhanced by a number of features that are unique to the online experience, including live chat, interactive polling, immediate downloads of presentations and session note-taking features that automatically email your notes to you after a session.

All of these digital learning activities provide convenience and flexibility while helping you build your competency so that you can stay up-to-date with your learning and sharpen your skills. I encourage you to include them in your development plan and to make time each week for your continued growth.  

AICPA ENGAGE features six conferences in one online event June 12-15, 2017. Online attendees can earn up to 35 hours of CPE. Learn more about the online experience here.

Michael McKenzie Grant, MFA, Director – Learning Design and Development, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.

Woman studying image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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