Date posted: 03/06/2024 5 min read

Getting an education

From TED Talks to short online courses, peer-to-peer communities and podcasts, modern education apps and tools make learning a pleasure.

Quick take

  • Education apps can deliver learning in many different formats, from podcasts to video to written instructions and more.
  • You can also learn from fellow accountants, via a variety of online platforms and forums.
  • Your CA ANZ membership gives you access to podcasts, CA Library resources, LinkedIn Learning and other educational opportunities.

Reflecting over my life, I realised I’ve completed upwards of 60 accounting exams. While I never want to do another exam, I’ve realised learning can be a pleasurable experience, enhanced by the convenience of education and learning apps. Perhaps because I can lean into what interests me, I’m always trying something new and I drop it if it doesn’t resonate with me. Fortunately, there’s lots of brilliant people sharing their knowledge and a number of apps available. Some offer CPD, but it is not necessarily intrinsically linked to the learning.

Kickstarting the day with podcasts

My morning starts at about 5am in a dog park, with Chester the border collie chasing balls and me listening to a podcast. There’s a vast range of topics and podcasts I can choose from. To avoid data charges, I download the podcasts before heading out and when I listen to them, I use the ‘speed control’ to speed up the podcasts, so that I can get through them faster. CA ANZ has several podcasts, including the Shaping the Practice of Tomorrow podcast series.

To round it off, I jump across to the Earmark CPE app, and do a quick multiple-choice exam on the podcast, to earn a CPD credit for listening to it.

Peer-to-peer learning

During my day, there are incidental learning opportunities within online peer communities. Check out the CA ANZ forum, the r/AustralianAccounting Reddit group and the Australian Facebook group, Small Business Accountants & Advisers Brain Trust.

It’s fascinating to read how peers unpack and respond to the problem when someone poses an issue. Typically, they offer practical advice over textbook theoreticals: “Well, you’re supposed to do this, but this way works and is faster…” Of course, peer conversations come with the caveat that not all responses are reliable.

It’s fascinating to read how peers unpack and respond to the problem when someone poses an issue. Typically they offer practical advice over textbook theoreticals.

Interactive learning with ChatGPT

I have ChatGPT open on my second screen all day and yes, I’m using it as a learning app! Rather than get ChatGPT or any other large language model (LLM) to do something for me, I craft a prompt asking ChatGPT to explain something to me. Building on the proverb ‘Teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime’, I’m using this technique to let ChatGPT teach me how to do something.

For example, when I craft a prompt, I start with, “You are an expert in <insert area>. Can you explain how I can <insert something>”. The prompt could be: “You are an expert editor. Can you critique this article and suggest how I can improve it?”, and I insert or upload my article.

ChatGPT may respond by suggesting grammar improvements, adding personal anecdotes, case studies, testimonials, or data or statistics to create a more compelling article.

Sometimes the first prompt does not work, and I need to experiment and add additional details. By doing it this way, I lose the short-term gratification of ChatGPT doing the work for me but gain knowledge.

ChatGPT is also great for providing step-by-step instructions on how to do something. If I struggle to complete a step, I prompt ChatGPT to further explain the step that stumped me.

Ideas worth spreading: TEDx and YouTube

If I hit a mid-afternoon slump and need some inspiration, I’ll watch a TEDx Talk video on YouTube. YouTube also offers a variety of how-to videos. A visual, step-by-step process of doing something can be much easier than following written instructions. I confess, sometimes when I figure out something a bit tricky, I record a video and upload it to YouTube so the next time I need to do it, I can watch my own instructions.

Kickstarting the day with podcastsImage credit: Pixabay

Professional development with LinkedIn Learning

If I feel my brain needs stimulating, I might hop over to LinkedIn Learning, which our CA ANZ membership gives us free access to. On the CA ANZ website, on the top right corner, click ‘My CA’, log in, then click ‘LinkedIn Learning’ on the left side, under ‘Quick Links’. It opens up to a candy store of learning opportunities, from short Excel courses to earning an accredited university certification in business analysis. Powered by AI, LinkedIn Learning suggests courses, and currently it’s suggesting I do ‘How to speak smarter when put on the spot’. I feel seen!

Several established software solutions offer structured, self-paced certification courses, and some HR solutions have inbuilt employee training programs. For example, Employment Hero integrates with the elearning library Go1.

Chill and skill: enhancing leisure with learning

In my downtime, I may alternate between the Libby and Duolingo apps on my Google Pixel. Libby lets me access audiobooks, books and magazines from both my local library and the CA Library. Duolingo gamifies language learning, with daily, bite-sized lessons on my phone. I’m spending three minutes a day learning Chinese words, before attending a conference in Asia later in the year.

One mighty educational hack

Finally, I will share a mind-blowing, time-saving educational tech hack that I stumbled across.

There are many brilliant webinars happening worldwide and I simply don’t have the time to attend them all. But I live in hope and sign up for them all.

I use a meeting assistant called, and Otter now frequently attends webinars on my behalf. As an AI-powered assistant, Otter transcribes the webinars, writes a summary and lists the highlights. But that’s not all. I can replay the recording and hear the audio at any specific point. Plus, Otter has a built-in chatbot, so I can ask Otter questions about the session.

If that was not enough, I can jump into the home page and ask questions about all the sessions I’ve attended. So, it’s effectively a library for all my webinars and meetings, making it a powerful learning tool and resource and, yes, it does work on the many webinars and conferences that CA ANZ runs.

Some of these options may not be suitable for those chasing CPD hours, but if you want to expand your horizons, these educational tools are suited to a modern lifestyle.