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Innovative teaching is not something new to Karen Kitching, associate professor of accounting and Accounting Advisory Council faculty fellow. At the School of Business, Kitching is often at the forefront, introducing new concepts and ideas to the students in her Master’s in Accounting Program classes and her undergraduate courses.
Recently, Kitching began teaching accounting educators as part of the American Accounting Association’s (AAA) new Webinar Series on Accounting Research and Education (weARE). Launched in October 2020 as a response to the pandemic, the weARE series offers two webinars a month, one on research innovation and one on education innovation. These webinars are free of charge to AAA members and offer the opportunity to earn 1.2 CPE's for attending the one-hour webinar.
“The CPA exam is changing in a big way where technology is a huge focus now. Big data skills are in high demand in the accounting firms and schools haven’t met that demand,” says Kitching. “Accounting academics are not as rapidly changing as they should be. This is a way for me to upskill the educators so that they can upskill their students.
Kitching presented a webinar titled, “Robotic Process Automation (RPA): Hands-On Training and Tips on How to Introduce RPA to Your Students” in June to 170 accounting academics from around the world. With no prior experience necessary, participants built their first bot using UiPath Studio, while learning why RPA is transforming the accounting profession and how it is being used in accounting firms. Kitching offered a follow up webinar in August on “Data Visualization: Hands-On Training and Resources for your Classroom” with 290 accounting academics registered. In this workshop, participants used a comprehensive case to create various types of data visualizations using Tableau Desktop -- from a variance analysis to interactive pie charts. Kitching will be presenting a webinar in January on Data Automation and Alteryx Designer.
“An educator teaching educators,” says Kitching. “That’s the theme here.” Kitching says accounting faculty at universities across the world are attending this one hour long webinar. “I work hard to create an environment where attendees are learning in a way that makes it fun. There’s been a huge participant rate and I offer lots of teaching resources following the webinar.” Kitching says she develops materials in her classrooms, and then brings successful concepts and exercises to the WeARE webinars.
“Because the CPA exam is changing to emphasize technology topics, a model curriculum has been proposed by the AICPA that includes many of the big data analytics skills covered in my webinars,” says Kitching. “Accounting faculty across the world are trying to upskill quickly, and my webinars are helping them do that.”
The American Accounting Association, founded in 1916, is the largest community of accountants in academia. The group has a history of providing leading-edge research and publications, and strives to shape the future of accounting through teaching, research and a powerful network.
Kitching’s dedication to the accounting industry is apparent, and aligns with the School of Business’ strategic initiative of Transformation of Work. “Karen Kitching has been a leading proponent of information systems and analytics courses in accounting programs at Mason,” says JK Aier, area chair of accounting. “Her passion is infectious and she is always willing to support other faculty to find innovative ways to incorporate technology across the curriculum and enhance the learning experience of our students.”
It is through work such as this, that the future of the profession continues to grow and the School of Business helps meet the demand for accounting graduates.