Anyone who is already a tutor has a good understanding of the benefits of working as a private, freelance tutor.
You would also have an understanding of the disadvantages of working for yourself — long hours spent preparing work and doing the administrative tasks associated with running a business, along with the sometimes unpredictable income. On the latter point, the reason for this is simple — students come and go. They might be in the final year of their course. They might only need your help to prepare for an exam. They are rarely going to be your student for more than a few years.
So, what do you do when you are experiencing a student drought? How can you supplement your income and meet your expenses as an accounting tutor?
Have you thought about putting together a course or even a series of courses?
To design and create an accounting course may seem like a huge task but as a tutor, you'd definitely be up for it because you have the teaching skills and the knowledge of the principles of accounting to get you started. If you break the task down into manageable steps, it suddenly becomes easier than you think.
The Importance of Planning Lessons
As a tutor, you should already be aware of how important lesson planning is to ensure the success of each lesson.
Not only do you need to create activities, but you also have to collect resources, determine learning objectives, check the curriculum to cover the right concepts, decide on the best and most relevant learning and teaching strategies and possibly work out an assessment task. That's all part and parcel of lesson planning and it all has to happen before the actual teaching.
Don't worry though — you've already done the hard work by becoming an accounting tutor. Course design is just the next step because the core principles are exactly the same when you decide to design a course, whether for live lessons or part of an online learning program.
While you may not necessarily lay eyes on the students who take your pre-recorded accounting courses online, you still need to tick all those planning and preparation boxes that include (again):
- resources — check
- learning objectives — check
- a good range of strategies — check
- assessment task (and the ensuing grades) — check.
Let's take a look at the main steps you will need to achieve in order to create professional accounting lessons or an accounting course online that will stand the test of time.
Selecting a Topic for Your Accounting Lessons
The trap many people fall into when they create a course or a series of (accounting) lessons is trying to cover every detail of every topic.
Well, less is more, Lucrezia.
~ Architect, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe (1886-1969) ~
Van Der Rohe was talking about his minimalist tendencies when it came to architecture here but the phrase has stood the test of time and is now applied by everyone from advertisers to the corporate business professional. It also applies to teaching, course writing, lessons and planning.
The Australian Curriculum is known to be overloaded, forcing teachers to cover a huge breadth of content with minimal depth. This does not have to be the same for your course; your students will gain so much more from covering less.
For example, you may decide on an 'accounting 101' topic — The Basic Accounting Principles. Covering this topic with breadth means that students would learn about each one of the principles (and there are more than ten of them) in a single lesson. Of course, it's questionable whether your students would actually learn anything, or whether they'd just be overloaded with information, flimsily supported by minimal understanding.
A better idea would be to break the principles of accounting up into a series of lessons and cover each of the principles individually and in-depth in a single lesson. Alternatively, you could break the lessons into practical topics, e.g. financial statements, where you would discuss expenses, income and bookkeeping in the context of the cost and full disclosure principles.
The topic you choose should always be about your students and their needs, not how much content you can cover in a single lesson.
Setting Learning Intentions
A learning intention is a description of the understanding your students should have and be able to apply by the end of a lesson, learning period or unit of work.
Also known previously in Australia as curriculum or lesson objectives, learning intentions is a key step in the lesson planning process and should be identified after a teacher or tutor has determined the topic but before they start to collect resources and design activities for their accounting lessons or accounting courses online.
These learning intentions are driven by student needs and, even for the same topic, will be vastly different according to who your students are — high school students, university students, early-career people, career change people or even business executives.
An effective learning intention states what students will be learning during each lesson, what concepts, skills and strategies will be covered and what the teacher is looking for students to demonstrate in terms of their understanding and practical application. In addition, students should have a clear understanding of what the learning intentions are and what they need to do to achieve them. Self-assessment is a key feature.
Preparing Content for Accounting Courses Online and Face-to-Face
Once you've decided on your topic and set your learning intentions, the next steps are:
- determine the teaching strategies you will use
- research and locate resources
- create and design activities
- decide on assessment tasks.
In other words, you need to create your course content.
At this point, it is pertinent to remind yourself again that less is more.
The content you create for a face-to-face course should be very similar, if not the same as the content you design for online lessons. The main difference may be in the delivery and the teaching strategies you use. It is essential to remember that, with online courses, there is little to no opportunity for students to engage with each other or with their teacher in real time. This engagement is important to keep students motivated but also to ensure deeper understanding as they discuss concepts and learn from each other.
When you design content for your accounting lessons, always refer back to your learning intentions to ensure they are being met.
Remember that each student will learn differently, so cater for this with the teaching strategies you use, the activities you are planning and the resources you recommend. A mix of reading, writing and speaking activities is always a good idea when you create content.
Finally, the accounting concepts and content you cover in your course or lesson should hang on a set structure. For example, for an hour-long lesson, your structure might look similar to this:
- Introduction of learning intentions — what are we learning today and what am I looking for? (5 mins)
- Content delivery — teaching and explanation of key content (10 mins)
- Activities — practical activities, research, group discussion etc (25 mins)
- Questions (5 mins)
- Content summary and reflection (10 mins)
- Assessment task (5 mins)
Again, while the content should be the same, activities will differ depending on whether your lesson is face-to-face, live online or recorded online. For online courses, particularly pre-recorded ones, it is a good idea to support students through an online forum where they can discuss concepts together, ask questions and get feedback from the teacher.
Once you're happy with your course design and the content, there are a few other factors you will need to spend some time on to ensure your accounting course is successful and can generate income.
You can have the best accounting lessons or online accounting course in the world, but if you have no students is it really the best?
Part of your course planning should include the development of your ideal student avatar, that is who do you want to enrol in your course and where will you find your students? Knowing who your students are should give you a clue on where to find them but make sure you explore different avenues, including, of course, the Superprof platform.
Knowing how much to charge for your accounting course, online course or individual accounting lessons is half the work.
There are a number of things you should factor in when you're calculating the cost of your course:
- cost of resources used
- overheads and other expenses (electricity, internet charge, Zoom subscription or other online expenses)
- time spent on the creation and design phases
- time spent maintaining your online course once it's uploaded
- feedback time
- cost of advertising.
As mentioned at the start of this article, creating an online or in-person accounting course may seem overwhelming but if you seek the support you need and take everything step-by-step, you'll have a great course that students want to join in no time.
Check out other articles below:
The platform that connects tutors and students