Learn@NUS

The NUS Education and Learning Blog

Leveraging online learning to get ahead in life

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Online courses have become viable alternatives for people unable to pay the prohibitive costs of higher education degrees or those needing to upgrade their job skill sets. The digital revolution has given us new ways of learning, imbibing and retaining knowledge.

A quick internet search will throw up many options from online academies such as edX, Coursera, Udemy and Khan Academy offering customized open-ended courses allowing flexibility and with prices ranging from zero to a few dollars. In 2017, the online learning market was worth $255-billion, a growth of nearly 200 percent from 2015, when it was worth $107 billion.

Innovations in the way education and technology adapt to each other are inevitable, but what should be kept in mind is the way this collaboration is utilized to impart knowledge. There is a glut of information out in the ether– an information overload. There are myriad “How to” listicles, YouTube videos, blogs, vlogs and articles on any subject under the sun.

But online learning comes with its own set of challenges. It is difficult to replicate the classroom teaching and learning experience in an online environment. The course curriculum needs to be informative and knowledge enhancing to keep the learners engaged and connected.

Online learning still has to overcome certain biases and skepticism despite the plethora of classes offered in LMS and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). A recent study estimates the average completion for MOOCs to be as low as 15 percent. The reason is that despite evolved edu-tech, the pedagogies are antiquated and limited to button mashing and easy hint-driven tests.

This is not to suggest that there are no takers for the online courses. The industry is still growing but what analysts suggest is that the way the information is disseminated should be changed. They believe that instead of offering information the courses should offer transformation, i.e. the courses should be tailored to offer results, the change that the learners are seeking.

A study by the Mayo Clinic found that millennials responded better to an education environment made up of collaboration, feedback, technology and mentorship.

This can be achieved by value addition, quality, gamification and engagement, and a focus on achievement.

Nicholas Kusmich, the world’s leading Facebook Advertising strategist, elaborates on the information glut that he suffered from. “For so long I was like an information-holic, and I have what I now call infobesity”, Kusmich explained. “I was literally going from event to event, conference to conference, podcast to podcast, book to book, and I was reading one or two books a week, thinking and tapping myself on the back, like look at all this progress you made when in reality I wasn’t making any progress. I was just filling my head with knowledge that I wasn’t even using.” Kusmich then decided to go on an information fast for a full year. Instead, he decided to apply what he had learned into his business and achieved tremendous results.

Online courses need to emphasise on application and gainful execution of knowledge imparted to succeed.

5 things you need to know about the CPA Exam

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So you’ve decided to become a certified public accountant – that’s great! You’ve worked hard, took all the undergraduate and graduate-level courses for accounting and business law that you’re required to take and you’ve even managed to get some work experience in the field. With all this behind you, you feel that you’re now ready to take the CPA examination. Though it sounds like a simple exam, there’s a lot in it that is riding on you becoming a certified public accountant. So, let’s take a deep look into what you need to know about the CPA exam.

  1. It’s a heavy exam

Just because you completed all your courses, don’t think that the exam is going to be easy. In fact, it’s quite a bulky exam. The CPA exam has 324 multiple-choice questions, 20 task-based simulation questions and three writing portions. These are all divided into four main sections which are Auditing and Attestation (AUD), Financial Accounting and Reporting (FAR), Regulation (REG) and Business Environment and Concepts (BEC).

  1. Candidates have a choice

Now, after reading the sections you may be panicking – don’t worry. Each part of the exam is taken individually and candidates have the choice to select the order of the sections they’re going to write. You’re not going to be able to do all four sections in one examination block, but instead, space them out over a series of months. Once you complete one section, you have 18 months to complete and pass the remaining three.

  1. What score do you need to pass?

Good question. First of all, it’s important to know how the examination is graded. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) grade exams on a scale from zero to 99. In order for you to pass the examination, you must receive 75 on each section. The Multiple-choice questions cunt for 70% of the exam, simulations count for 20% and written questions count for 10%. Though, the written questions are weighted differently than the multiple-choice, so, just because you scored 100% on the multiple-choice section doesn’t mean you’re going to pass the exam.

  1. You’re not alone

You may be sweating in your chair right now after reading this, but don’t. You have multiple avenues of support to help you study and pass the CPA exam. There are online forums, study groups and CPA review courses which all help you during the preparation period prior to the exam. For example, CPA review courses provide you with lectures, memorization tactics, practice multiple-choice questions, and some even offer a personalized learning system specifically for you to target your weak areas.

  1. Take your time

With each exam, you’re given 14 hours to complete it. This is an ample amount of time. What you need to do is relax and focus yourself, making sure that you allow yourself an appropriate amount of time per question. Through your practice exams, you’ll be able to see your weak areas, so give yourself more time during the exam for those questions.

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