THE BUSINESS BRIEF
CalCPA wants to lead the way of CPAs continuing education through the latest method of delivering continuing education approved by NASBA consisting of online bite-sized courses with a length as short as 10 minutes. I was tasked with researching and creating a platform for CalCPA to provide bite-sized courses to their members and customers.
CalCPA is the largest state society of CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) in the US.
NASBA is the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy, organisim that regulates the accounting profession.
The means by which CalCPA delivers their content no longer fits with the busy schedule, life, and needs of accounting professionals. People are more impatient now than ever before and CPAs want to avoid thinking and planning around when to take their mandatory continuing education. They also want to stay up to date on the latest changes, laws that will help them develop in their careers. CalCPA is known for providing high-quality courses and events to CPAs. However, they are very focused on long in-person courses and events that usually range anywhere from two hours to two days! Their attendance to in-person courses is decreasing and so is their revenue. CalCPA needs to adapt and change to these needs.
Based on the perceived change in the consumption behavior of professionals I developed a different process for consuming learning by providing accounting professionals with a new means for obtaining quick and specific information they need right when they need it. For instance, what happens when a professional encounters a difficult task that doesn’t know how to overcome? He can jump on the BitLearning platform and find a quick course covering his specific issue without disrupting his work and schedule. BitLearning allows filling knowledge gaps cutting out all the noise and focusing on the learning concepts because the educational content gets right to the point only covering the learning objectives.
BitLearning allows professionals to explore topics they are curious about by making a small time and financial investment without making the full commitment. Flexibility is the key to improve engagement, catch the consumer’s attention and they will want more. By combining related courses in learning packages once someone takes one course he will be enticed to take the rest in the group or any of the ones in the other recommended learning packages. These learning packages are segmented in different sections presented in a logical manner according to the topic.
Before establishing a research plan I balanced the benefits of some of the methods to ensure I maximize time and resources to gain the most valuable insights. Because this was a brand new product line I focused heavily on performing user interviews to get an in-depth understanding of their goals and needs.
I analyzed a variety of providers of online learning, some within the accounting industry and others that specialize in other industries like technology, business, design, personal development and more.
Some well established online learning providers like Coursera and Udacity specialize in making certificates and even masters degrees available online. There are many pros to that like people in other cities and countries can benefit from these programs however they imply a high degree of commitment.
Udemy, on the other hand, has courses that can be several hours in length but they are broken down into bite-sized lectures, but customers cannot purchase individual lectures within the courses.
Grovo has a library of bite-size courses with topics categorized by the general areas of business like project management, marketing or communication. Their focus is to sell their tool to companies so their customers create their own materials.
The Ohio Society of CPAs offers some bite-sized courses but the customers are forced to search them in the same way as the standard accounting continuing education courses. If we are targetting an audience with a different product offering, the experience needs to adapt to the new needs of that audience. If they are looking for quick courses why should they have to dig through longer courses like conferences?
I was surprised to find that bite-size learning is still in the early stages of development and have so much potential ahead.
Over 30 interviews and over 20 user testing sessions with accounting professionals at different stages of their careers. The insights from these interviews helped me create a comprehensive simple platform that aligns with the simplicity of bite-sized learning.
The goals of user research were to:
To understand their context and priorities around their learning.
Validate the concept of bite-sized learning. Do they understand it without explanation? Does it resonate with them?
Do they understand what they see and what they can do?
Identify what doesn't work or areas of improvement across the different iterations.
Generate content recommendations based on the subject areas are they are actually interested in.
What matters to me is...
“Anytime, anywhere, any device”
“It can be transformational, it is critical for success and can get you to go faster on your career”
“I’m amused by the content. It triggers my interest”
“I like that I can pick & choose what I want to watch"
"I would like to take advantage of my commute by taking some courses to help me stay up to date in my field"
“Being able to break it into smaller pieces and self-select provides a lot of flexibility"
"I am interested in courses that relate to the projects I am working on"
PROTOTYPE - TEST - ITERATE - REPEAT
I worked on quick sprints developing prototypes and testing them immediately. This process allowed me to make almost ten different prototypes in a quick timeframe improving them constantly based on user feedback and insights obtained from testing.
The concept of grouping bite-sized courses into packages got a great positive response since it provides related courses allowing professionals to pick and chose the bites they were interested in without forcing them to purchase the entire package. Remember, the great benefit of bite-sized learning is flexibility and the platform must deliver flexibility in all its capacity. Each learning package is divided into valuable sections like practical examples or answers to common questions.
Iterating from low fidelity...
...to high fidelity prototypes...
...to the final product...
Menu of subject offerings
Recommended learning packages
Learning packages that release a new bite-sized course every month so professionals are constantly learning effortlessly
Direct keyword search for specific issues
On the Go allows the user to search through individual bite-sized courses
Hovering over a card reveals a brief description of the learning package. Just enough to decide to click in for more
Cards display minimal information
Add and remove courses from the cart with a single click
Shopping cart readily available on every page on the platform
Bite-sized courses categorized logically according to the needs of accounting professionals
Expand each course for a brief description and individual pricing of the course
Combine bite-sized learning with other similar offerings like conferences or events
JUST FOR YOU
ON THE GO
UPDATES LEARNING PACKAGE
In order to get awarded continuing education credits, professionals need to pass the quick, two question, quiz at the completion of each course. The mockups below show the scenarios for a passing and failing the quiz.