Business Strategy | Leadership / Management | Organizational Development | Training & CPE

Education: Less classroom, more collaboration

Collaboration is more than a buzzword. It might just be the key to doing business going forward.

Study after study -- including the profession's own CPA Horizons 2025 report -- have identified collaboration as one of the most important skills professionals will need going forward.

Likewise, the next generation of CPA leaders has identified collaboration as a key to leadership today and in the future.

It's not surprising, really. As the world becomes more social, it becomes more human, too. With all of this human interaction in play, those who can skillfully collaborate now call the shots.

Education has been swept up in the collaborative movement, too.

With people connected like never before, "social learning" is quickly replacing traditional classroom settings as the source of most education. Think about it: Most of what we learn on a day-to-day basis comes not from teachers in classrooms, but from other people like us.

In fact, in an article titled "The new CPE: Collaborative learning communities," Peter Margaritis and Bob Dean quote directly from the CPA Horizons 2025 report:

"Current educational framework must evolve at the same pace with the changing dynamics of business, government, and our profession."

In other words, it's time for education to catch up with the rest of our newly social world.

"We are living and working in a world where change is a constant," Margaritis and Dean write. "Collaborative learning experiences enable us to ensure that our learning exceeds the rate of change. Rather than just learning from your own reading and research, work assignments and job experiences, you can accelerate the learning process (and stay ahead of change) by collaborating with colleagues and peers on a continuous and structured basis. This involves planning to learn, asking great questions, listening and making connections, sharing openly, taking action, reflecting on your actions, and transferring your learning to other colleagues, all in real time. We are seeing the early stages of collaborative learning with the use of social media, but more structure and discipline can truly make CPAs lifelong learners."

What does collaborative learning look like? Margaritis and Dean say it "will provide smaller increments of education that are relevant, more easily digested, and more rapidly implemented."

Think YouTube tutorials, or LinkedIn Answers, or using an web-based tool to facilitate a collaborative brainstorming session. You're learning from others, and you're doing it now.

That's the state of education today. The question is this: Can traditional education keep pace?

Read Margaritis's and Dean's article in its entirety, then tell us: Where does most of your professional education come from these days?


Bill Sheridan