Teach accounting with confidence

On 7 December 2021, Colin Leith and Toby York hosted an introductory seminar to a free online course for Level 3 teachers called “Teach accounting with confidence”.

Colin Leith and Toby York outline the course content and the teaching and learning strategies

Colin Leith is Economics, Business and Esports Subject Advisor at Pearson Education and Toby York is a chartered accountant, Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University and founder of AccountingCafe.org. 

The seminar outlined the principles of an educational approach, the Colour Accounting Learning System, that makes accounting education accessible, engaging and fun for learners and teachers alike.

The “Teach accounting with confidence” course, which is free of charge, begins on 18 January 2022. There are two streams: BTEC and A Level. When you sign up you will be given the option to select one or both courses.

Time: 4pm on Tuesdays
Duration: 60 minutes
Hosts: Colin Leith and Toby York
Sessions: 8
Dates: 18, 25 January, 1, 8, 22 February and 1, 8 and 15 March 2022.

A Level
Time: 5.15pm on Tuesdays
Duration: 60 minutes
Hosts: Colin Leith and Toby York
Sessions: 7
Dates: 18, 25 January, 1, 8, 22 February and 1, 8 March 2022.

After signing up to the course you will be provided with access to the online learning pages. These include a link to join the live sessions which will also be recorded. You will also have access to royalty free teaching resources, presentations, class activities and assessment practice examples.

Making accounting education fun

Do you think accounting can be fun? Is there a way to make it less boring and more engaging? Do you believe that learning accounting is easy and something everyone can do?

Do you think accounting can be fun? Is there a way to make it less boring and more engaging? Do you believe that learning accounting is easy and something everyone can do?

Toby York, founder of Accounting Cafe, and “The Accidental Accountant“, Peter Margaritas CPA are in conversation discussing this and other nerdy accounting issues.

© AccountingCafe.org

With your help Accounting Cafe can be active in your local school

This is a hugely rewarding activity that can be rolled out easily.

Accounting Cafe in schools, anyone?

I have been running an “accounting club” for a group of sixth formers at my local community school for a couple of years (lately interrupted by lockdown).

It sounds unlikely, but students gave it a 96% approval rating and the department head told me that it was one of the best attended enrichment activities in the school. After completing the course participants said that they not only had a better understanding of accounting but realised how important it was as a foundation for their financial literacy.

I can’t take all of the credit as I simply re-purposed materials from the Colour Accounting catalogue and threw in some additional activities, but I can say that it is a hugely rewarding experience and one that I would strongly recommend.

This was designed for delivery over 10 weekly sessions of about 60–90 minutes. This fits nicely within a school term allowing for a couple of weeks that are usually lost to other commitments and activities.

It can easily be adapted to fit other patterns, for example “Enterprise Day” or even embedded within the “Young Enterprise” scheme that many schools offer.

Accounting Cafe is able to support this in other schools. If you are willing to give it a go, there’s a pack of resources and lesson plans. I’m also offering free, live online training.

Contact me by email or LinkedIn.

© AccountingCafe.org

It’s time to dump the set text

Using H5P to create Colour Accounting interactive content

The days of picking a textbook, downloading the publisher’s resources and setting end of chapter exercises for practise are long gone – and good riddance.

Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

Matt Miller has been calling for educators to Ditch That Textbook for almost 10 years, but most of the academics I speak with tell me that they still use one. I always ask what it is, and in UK institutions, it’s invariably one of about six titles, all similarly structured.

Unprompted, many will go on to say that they or their students don’t particularly like it, and more commonly, that their students don’t read it.

It may not be true of your students, but in my experience, you can’t even give textbooks away. My institution provides students with a set text for each module free of charge using a digital platform. This provides data indicating that some don’t read at all, and very few read a lot.

I can’t say that I blame them entirely. Although I really like my book, I don’t think many of my students would describe it as a good read, or something that they will treasure for years to come.

For teachers, textbooks provide a spine and structure to our courses, and also resources (of variable and questionable quality). They are also, however, a crutch for our teaching and I’ve heard some academics admit that they provide academic respectability. Are these good enough reasons to hang onto them?

The seemingly ever-increasing pressure to provide more accessible, atttractive/interactive and challenging learning materials can feel overwhelming, but I believe it also presents an opportunity.

I am planning a modest start to a project that will create a library of “learning bricks” that can be used to build accounting courses for schools, colleges, universities and perhaps even wider.

The tool I’m playing with is H5P which is a free and open source HTML5 coding platform. This sounds fancy and complicated but it’s actually really easy to use, create, share and reuse content. It can be embedded within most websites and learning management systems, including Moodle, Blackboard, Canvas and Brightspace. In fact, any LMS that uses Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standards.

Here are a couple of examples

If you would like to join in with the “Learning Bricks” project or find out more please let me know. Or join the Accounting Cafe community on LinkedIn.

© AccountingCafe.org

Why concept mapping is important

A version of this article was first published on Linkedin on 30 July 2020.

Concept maps are visual representations of information that show everything in a single view. They help students to create a clear mental model, which clarifies their thoughts and provides a shared language of understanding in a community of learners.

Concept maps work well for all types of students when it is important to understand relationships between different things.

According to the educational psychologist David Ausubel, the single most important factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows1. A concept map accommodates this and supports Ausubel’s idea of “meaningful learning”, that is, when the student comprehends the relationship of what is being learned to other knowledge.

Concept maps generally start with higher-level concepts, so help students to create schema for learning. Schema enhance learning by showing students:

  • The context of what they already know.
  • How new information fits with what they already know.
  • How new bits of information fit together.

The BaSIS Framework3

Traditional concept maps consist of circles or boxes (“nodes”) each of which contains a concept and are connected by linking phrases.

Although the BaSIS Framework is not a traditional concept map in that sense, like all effective concept maps, it has intellectual integrity––although it might look simple, it is not simplistic and it accurately reflects how the things it represents behave in practice.

Good concept maps are so rigorous that no matter how complex the example you throw at it, the model still works. This is also true of the BaSIS Framework.

Here are some of the many benefits that this conceptual map for accounting can provide:

  1. By showing everything—the forest and the trees—students have a concept map of the accounting framework in a single view.
  2. The duality of accounting—assets are equivalent to liabilities plus equity—is obvious.
  3. The use of colour accelerates learning of debits and credits. It may be common for students to muddle debits for credits, but unusual for them to muddle orange for green.
  4. Students learn quickly that debits and credits can increase or decrease amounts, depending on context.
  5. It is clear that profit is a function of income and expenses and it is part of equity. The statement of profit and loss and the statement of financial position are part of the same story.

Significantly, a concept map understood clearly within a community of learners provides a solid reference point throughout the student’s learning journey. It provides “pointability” for teachers and students alike.

© AccountingCafe.org

Further reading

Miller, F. (2018) Organising Knowledge with Multi-level Content: Making knowledge easier to understand, remember and communicate. [https://www.francismiller.com/organising-knowledge/]


[1] Ausubel, D. (1968) Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View. Canada: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

[1] Ausubel, D. (1968) Educational Psychology: A Cognitive View. Canada: Holt, Rinehart & Winston

[2] Australian Society for Evidence Based Teaching, (2019) Meta-Analytic Research on Concept Mapping. Accessed 23 May 2020.

[3] The BaSIS Framework is a trademark of Color Accounting International

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