Looking for accounting credentials but don’t want to be in Ithaca? The SC Johnson College of Business launched an online accounting certificate as part of the eCornell initiative.
The program is designed for working professionals seeking additional credentials or pre-MBA students who want to get a head start. eCornell currently offers certificates in a variety of fields, ranging from technology and health care to leadership.
This program is completely virtual, consisting of video conferences with the instructor, video lectures, discussion forms, projects and quiz questions dispersed throughout the course. In order to earn the accounting certificate, students must successfully complete four courses over the span of two months, according to the eCornell website.
The program costs $3,650 upfront, or $950 over the course of four months, and students must complete courses about financial statements, accruals, sales accounting and financial forecasting to obtain the certificate.
Prof. Robert Bloomfield, accounting, serves as the faculty author and professor for the course. In the past, he has authored eCornell courses such as Strategic Decision Making and Measuring and Motivating Performance. He spoke to The Sun about the differences between an online versus a traditional, in-person course.
“A lot of people, when they hear ‘online education’, think old-school, correspondence courses, you’re totally alone, and you’re just reading stuff and watching videos,” Bloomfield said. “That’s really not the way eCornell designs their courses. There is an instructor who interacts with the students regularly in live sessions.”
In addition to the live sessions, one aspect of the program that Bloomfield highlighted was video lectures, which are filmed in advance for the students to watch on their own time.
In some ways, these videos can be filmed more professionally than a traditional lecture. “I think of a video as my best possible lecture. Rather than getting up there and trying to get it perfect that one time, which is so hard in a classroom, and trying to use my fairly meager design skills to create slides and stuff like that, I’m working with a team,” Bloomfield said.
This team consists of graphic designers and animators, who work to make the videos more engaging.
Bloomfield described how he works with animators, saying that he plans out exactly how long each topic will take to discuss and films the segment as many times as is needed to get it exactly right. Then, Cornell brings in a team of designers who put together the animations. According to Bloomfield, “Instead of lecture, what you’re getting are these very carefully designed videos.”
One part of the online course is a project that asks students to interview professionals in accounting and finance — often ones in their own organizations, as many students are themselves working professionals.
“It gives them an opportunity to talk with the accounting and finance folks and learn what problems, what challenges they’re facing, how are they going about their jobs, and so on,” Bloomfield said.
According to Bloomfield, this program capitalizes on the benefits of technology, while also expanding access to an accounting certificate that even full-time, working professionals can attain while also pursuing their jobs.
“The bottom line is that technology is really a great way to improve the quality of instruction,” Bloomfield said.