Why AAT decided to invest in e-learning

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AAT recently celebrated the 10 millionth question being taken in its e-learning support tools. AAT’s Head of Learning Services, Robert Donelan discusses the benefits of e-learning and future plans. 

We have always provided learning support to our membership but certain developments within AAT led us to think about doing this in new ways.

We had moved to online assessments, which gave students the ability to take assessments at their own pace. This made the previous exam timetable redundant and meant we could no longer predict exactly what students were studying at any one time. We had also started to develop our online services building blogging platforms and encouraging members to join webinars to learn about relevant topics.

However, the simple fact is that people are accessing information in a multitude of different ways compared to five years ago. Developments in technology mean we expect to find out exactly what we need at the touch of a button at any time and in almost any place.

Advantages of e-learning

There are a number of advantages to e-learning, which we felt would suit our membership:

• it’s flexible and can be accessed any time. We know the majority of our students are studying part time and our members are working full time so e-learning fits around all their other priorities
• it’s mobile and can be accessed (almost) anywhere. It can be used on a laptop and now an ipad. We are working on making it mobile friendly and available on android devices
• it’s tailored to the individual enabling them to take ownership of their own learning. It means they can identify and focus on their own development areas
• it’s available regardless of location. We are a global membership body and e-learning is available to all regardless of geographical location

Launch of AAT e-learning

We launched our e-learning products in October 2011. These included short e-learning modules designed to offer support to students in areas of the syllabus that we knew they found difficult. We also included ‘green light testing’ which is a diagnostic tool allowing learners to identify areas they need to focus on. This covers all levels of the AAT Accounting Qualification, as well as Access, Bookkeeping and Computerised Accounting. We are also developing bespoke learning support for our members looking at topics such as ethics.

We conducted research in 2013 which showed 90% of students used our e-learning. We were pleased to find that 28% had used e-learning in the classroom showing that tutors are embedding our materials in their lessons.

10 million tests taken!

In April 2014, the 10 millionth ‘green light’ question was taken. This demonstrates the success along with the regular 40,000 e-learning courses taken each month.

What next for AAT?

We have recently made all our e-learning support available on ipad (as well as laptop or PC) and Android users will be able to access it later in the year. We also plan to make it mobile-friendly.

We are using social media to capture informal learning from our members. We have a very engaged online community who support each other by offering advice and problem solving. We are now using subject matter experts to pose original questions and aim to produce resources from these social learning interactions.

Robert Donelan is AAT’s former Head of Learning Services.

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