Ronan O’Loughlin, Director of Education & Training
In my role as Director of Education, I can see that the needs of our students and members are constantly changing. So in this blog post, I’m pleased to let you know that our education model is continually adapting to be more flexible. We now offer new distance learning options for all our exams: CAP1, CAP2 & FAE. Using a blended approach of online study and classroom-based contact, this should appeal to students based outside of course catchment areas, and to people for whom frequent attendance at lectures would be challenging.
How does it work? The distance programme relies heavily on self-directed learning and, so, requires fewer face-to-face lectures. The majority of online course content is delivered online in c.45-minute segments, with classroom-based supports at the beginning and end of topics. Each subject will follow a number of the following during the academic year:
• Classroom-based introduction to a group of topics
• Online lessons
• Classroom-based revision of topics, with a focus on exam questions
What supports will be available? Supporting student learning is a key element of the distance programme. Classroom-based sessions will focus on ensuring students are comfortable with the topics they have studied. Between classroom sessions, students will have access to a range of supports:
• Learning journal to track progress in each subject
• Direct access to, and support from, experienced educators through an online forum and our ‘request a call’ facility
• Assignment correction
• Study groups of students
• “Ask me Anything” online sessions with institute staff and educators
How much study / contact time will there be?
CAP1 and CAP2 follow an academic calendar of October to May, with various subject-specific interim assessments during the year. Exams for CAP1 take place in May and September. Exams for CAP2 take place in June and October. The amount of classroom and online study required will depend on the specific subjects taken in a given year. For example, a student studying CAP1 Financial Accounting, Management Accounting & Tax would have 6 weekends of classroom contact between October and April. This would be supplemented by c.40 hours of online lessons per subject. Class contact sessions will take place in our premises in Chartered Accountants House, Dublin with NI variants of Law & Tax NI taking place in Chartered Accountants House Belfast.
In comparison to CAP1 & CAP2, there is significantly less new technical material at FAE. The aim of the year is to enable students to integrate their knowledge across subject areas and demonstrate critical thinking and advisory skills. Within FAE Core, the traditional education programme gives students a blend of single and multidisciplinary case based teaching. This will continue with the distance programme; however there will be a greater focus on integrated casework in contact sessions. Single discipline and technical content will primarily be delivered online.
There are 22 contact days scheduled at weekends between October and July.
What are the benefits to students? Distance learning is a good way for students to organise their studies around their work, social or family commitments in a structured, supported environment. Chartered Accountants Ireland is committed to ensuring students achieve success by providing comprehensive materials, online resources, and ensuring that individual support is available. Students who have proven themselves to be self-motivated, disciplined and committed enough to take responsibility for their own learning will benefit most from the this course.