Date posted: 24/04/2020 4 min read

Supporting CA Program candidates enrolled in Capstone during COVID-19

In Brief

  • CA ANZ is providing support for CA Program candidates enrolled into Capstone by delivering workshops online
  • Exams for Capstone will be delivered online this term
  • Candidates will be provided with the support and resources they need to succeed

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) is continuing to support CA Program candidates during COVID-19 by offering those enrolled in the Capstone this term the opportunity to complete the final component of their studies online.

“The Capstone module brings together the CA Program’s technical modules, with the overlay of soft skills that candidates need in our profession. We aim to provide our candidates with the ability to wear multiple hats at once, and understand the world through multiple lenses.”
Joanne Ross, Senior Module Leader for Capstone

“Traditionally, the Capstone consists of three full day face-to-face workshops that are facilitated by two experienced CAs. We held the first Capstone workshop in early March, but as COVID-19 restrictions continued to ramp-up, our team began discussing how we could take action to rewrite our workshops to become webinars in just a few weeks.”

Earlier this year, the CA ANZ team were in the process of finding ways to increase candidate engagement in the Capstone module by changing the method of assessment and introducing participation marks in each workshop. Although this project for change did not have an online learning focus at the time, COVID-19 made it important for the team to quickly test, troubleshoot and transform face-to-face workshops into engaging online webinars that address the needs of candidates during these challenging times.

“We understood from personal experience that webinars can be disengaging when they are one-directional. It took our team a week and a number of redesigns to land on the final workshop format that would enable candidates to bounce ideas off each other, receive feedback from their facilitator, and be offered time for reflection,” said Ross.

“The same amount and quality of learning will still occur in the online webinars, however the sessions and workshop tasks are spaced and prioritised differently. Instead of working to condense eight-hours of face-to-face learning into a two-hour webinar, we have given candidates the responsibility to work in small groups on pre-tasks so they have the opportunity to collaborate and compare their solutions among the wider group,” said Ross.

“We included our facilitators and candidates in every step of this journey - sending out how-to videos or quick instructions once everything was complete. This transition was made to meet the needs of our candidates, and their response was amazing as they joined in on testing the functionality of the webinars prior to formal training.”

To ensure candidates continue to have the opportunity to develop their soft skills, and receive feedback from a facilitator like they would in a face-to-face workshop environment, CA ANZ has implemented webinar software to help replicate this interaction virtually.

“Instead of working in a large group of 25, the webinar software allows candidates to work in smaller groups in breakout rooms of 5 people where a facilitator is able to pop in to discuss ideas,” said Ross.

“This function has been well received by candidates. They commented that breakout rooms have helped them focus without the usual distractions of working in a classroom environment.”

With exams for the CA Program moving online, CA ANZ will continue to support the learning of candidates by providing them a range of online resources, as well as access to online discussion forums.

“For the first time ever, the Capstone exam will be held online on Blackboard. Candidates will still be assessed with three questions that are multidisciplinary, and assess how they are able to communicate solutions to complex business problems. In regard to marking, our exam markers will still be drawn from our cohort of workshop facilitators as they have taught the learning materials and are able to bring their understanding of the course content,” said Ross.

Candidates will be provided with additional resources such as answer guides and talking points on activities. They will also have access to a past paper library, and discussion boards on Blackboard where they will be encouraged to ask and discuss questions with their peers.

CA Program candidates enrolled in the technical and Capstone modules are offered a choice of whether they would like to complete their studies online, or withdraw and defer with no financial or academic hardship.

“We wanted to give our candidates a choice of whether to continue their studies during these challenging times or not. We had some candidates withdraw from the face-to-face workshops as they were understandably concerned about the risk of COVID-19, however the team took a proactive approach in getting into contact with these candidates and inviting them to continue their studies online. ”

“Our CA Program candidates who are enrolled in Capstone are so close to the finish line, and as an organisation we are here to make it possible for them to continue their learning journey.”

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To access wellbeing support during this challenging time, please contact our Members Support Team.

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