Notes from a Distance...
A Faculty Member's Experiences with Distance Learning


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Accounting and the Open Campus at
Santa Fe Community College, Gainesville, FL
By Susan Crosson

In the spring of 1998 the goal was set, the college’s associate of arts degree would be available online by the year 2000. Since then, cohort groups of faculty have been redesigning courses for the Internet using WebCT, web-based student support services have been developed, and The Center for Academic Technologies has been formed to coordinate the college’s Open Campus. The Open Campus at SFCC is thriving. Sixteen courses were offered our first semester in the fall of 1998, with over 200 students enrolling. Spring of 1999’s enrollment grew to over 500 students with many more course offerings. The goal of an online AA degree will be met.

Accounting courses that will be online include Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting. (Florida’s community colleges, because of state- mandated common course numbering and course articulation between all state-funded schools, offer these pre-professional prerequisites for upper division admissions with no transfer hassles.) At SFCC, we have chosen to offer Financial Accounting online as a two-course sequence, ACG2001 and ACG2011, which transfers as the three- credit-hour course, ACG2021. The college’s desire for student success and sensitivity to learning not only the accounting content, but also the course technology, prompted this two-course decision. So far, ACG2001 has been offered fall 1998 and spring 1999 while ACG2011 has been offered spring 1999. Managerial Accounting will be offered for the first time, fall semester 1999.

Students who have completed the courses have been pleased about what they have learned and the course delivery method. Their reasons for taking accounting online vary. Most successful completers are working full-time or have hectic travel schedules that make attending on-campus classes difficult. Some are students who are retaking the course. All realized the personal responsibility a distance learning course requires. There is no rest of the class or back of the classroom to hide behind. Each student is personally accountable for every assignment and course exchange. Wonderful students they are!

The assumptions of those who did not complete the course seemed to be their obstacle to success. Many assumed it would be easier, or that the assignment deadlines were not real, or that it would take less time than an on-campus course. Many underestimated their computer and study skills. Even with an orientation module to the course technology before the college’s Add/Drop deadline, many were slow to engage or realize how accountable they were for all course requirements. They assumed they would catch up, most did not.

Has being involved in distance learning of accounting been worth it as a faculty member? Yes. The learning resources now available online or that I have developed, have made teaching more enjoyable for me both on campus and online. Students have many more ways to master accounting and they can access help 24 hours a day. Like my students, I have become more accountable for what I do in my courses because my methodology of teaching is out there for all those who are interested to see. If you are interested, visit my web page at or the Open Campus at Santa Fe Community College

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This page was updated August 4, 1999, by the American Accounting Association