A Teacher’s Guide to the IFAC Global Knowledge Gateway: Part 1–Transcending the Google Mentality
Eli R. Khazzam | October 14, 2015 |
This is the first of a three-part series of articles to provide teachers with an overview of how to integrate resources from the IFAC Global Knowledge Gateway into their syllabi, research for projects and papers, and provide some ideas for out-of-the-box lessons to help inspire students to experience the accountancy profession in different ways.
When I was in university in the late 1980s, the internet—as we now know it—was still science fiction. Professors distributed their syllabi and generally referred their students to textbooks, many of which were several years old, and a list of articles that could be found and photocopied at the library or were distributed by the professor. The format for instruction—the variety of content, the types of resources, the speed and costs at which such resources could be accessed by students—ultimately limited the scope of the learning process.
Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, teachers and students have powerful tools at their disposal for gathering research, planning lessons, and creating practical exercises enabling students to apply a range of theoretical concepts.
Teaching Students to Think Beyond Google
Google is easily the most powerful popular search engine used today. Almost anything on the internet is quickly, if not instantaneously, retrievable from Google. And for the most part, Google is reasonably intelligent, as it is capable of honing down searches into relevant categories very efficiently. So why might the educational community need anything beyond Google? Because beyond the quantity, speed, and self-automated nature of Google there is still a need for introspective, human intelligence.
The IFAC Global Knowledge Gateway is not designed to compete with or replicate Google’s omnipotent-like utility. Rather, it is what I might call an “anti-google” – a small portion of the information universe curated especially for a specific audience. Our audience is the global accountancy profession: auditors, management accountants, CFOs, public sector accountants, public officials, regulators, professional accountancy organizations, and academia. The information published on the Gateway comes from many credible sources, including business leaders, accountancy experts, scholars, and the accountancy media. It has been curated by IFAC staff with contributions from IFAC member organizations from around the world.
“Curated Information” Helps Students Acquire a Lay of the Land
A website built upon curated information helps users avoid sources that may be of a dubious, misleading or low-quality nature. It also helps users ask themselves the questions they need consider when searching for information as opposed to relying on a database to automatically do all the thinking for them. Curated information provides the user with enough information to acquire a general understanding—a lay of the land. Content is no different.
Many Ways to Learn and Mediums in the Digital Age
In the old days, we had two forms of educational resources at our disposal: live, real-time lectures and printed materials. However today, teachers can provide many different mediums for educating and engaging their students. Some people learn better through visual instruction, while others through audio, and teachers and students have options at their disposal that can be used based on the student’s learning preferences.
The Gateway includes resources in a range of formats: articles, podcasts, books, case studies, e-books, frameworks, guidance, presentations, reports, research studies, surveys, websites and interactive centers, and video. It allows teachers to assemble a syllabus of educational resources to appeal to all learning preferences and teaching styles. What some might have previously thought of as redundant—similar content presented in different formats—should be available to all students in the digital age.
Information + Utility
For centuries, students and their potential to acquire knowledge have been restricted by the slow pace of real-time, manual conventions. The shelf-life of information and the sources we consider legitimate information are now subject to change rapidly and dynamically with respect to the speed and breadth of the Internet. Now accountancy students at all levels have a tool that can help them get to all areas of accountancy knowledge: from theoretical to hands-on and from historical to cutting edge. The Gateway provides accounting students with a small utility in an otherwise vast new universe of nearly unlimited information.
In part two of this series, we will examine how information on the Gateway is organized to help students and teachers think about different facets of the accountancy profession.