Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

In both 2011 and 2012 I presented a continuing education workshop at the annual meeting of the American Accounting Association.  The title of my workshop is, “Using Social Media in the Classroom.”

Using blogs in a classroom is a very good vehicle for students to practice their critical thinking skills.  Critical thinking can be exercised through analyzing what another person says, or using its principles to structure commentaries or essays for a more profound impact.

In my most recent workshop, a few of the participants mentioned their intention to have students write blog posts for class.  I agree that this is an excellent way for students to practice the use of writing for professional expression.

But let’s think about the strategic placement of writing blog posts.  Should this be done in a single course or throughout an educational program?

In my opinion, the benefit from writing comes from repeatedly having to do it over a longer period of time.  For sure, there is some benefit from having a student write an isolated paper.  That benefit, though, is limited mostly to learning more about the topic of the paper.  Having a student write only a single paper does not help him or her work on strengthening writing and/or critical thinking skills.  Developing and strengthening such skills takes repeated practice by the student and insightful feedback from the professor.

Such practice and feedback can occur either in a single course if it is dedicated to blogging, or throughout the entirety of an educational program if it is incorporated into every course.  Today’s e-mail brings notice of the University of Calgary incorporating blogging throughout the entirety of a graduate education program.  Students are expected to write blog posts in every course they take.  Wow!

Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton writes the following in her blog post at Literacy, Languages and Leadership, “12 Tips to Incorporate Blogging into Your Classes.”

In a recent Master’s of Education course I taught at the University of Calgary, blogging was a required assignment for the students. The program coordinator (my boss) urged me to have the students blog as part of their course. She let me know that the students were enrolled in a graduate certificate program and that the course I was teaching was the first course of their certificate. She said that the certificate had been set up so that students would blog throughout their entire learning experience, as part of every course in their certificate.

I’ve heard some business professors mention that blogging might simply be incorporated as a component of their school’s course in business communications.  I, however, think the benefit is much greater if using the approach employed at the University of Calgary.

Eaton’s blog post, “12 Tips to Incorporate Blogging into Your Classes,” serves as a useful reminder of implementation issues once the decision has been made to go ahead with blogging over a longer period of time.  Students will need a blog site (I recommend WordPress.com). Although there are many issues, Eaton provides advice on the basics.  It’s worth a read.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Retired accounting professor Tom Selling (Thunderbird) started the current discussion on October 11 at The Accounting Onion (I’ve raised the issue at least twice before on AECM), with his post, “Why Do Accounting Academics Blog Less Than Other Academics?”  He said that it’s because profs don’t want to say anything that could negatively impact the Big 4 recruiting of their students.

There have been responses in four venues.  None has disagreed with Selling’s central point, that accounting professors are far less likely to blog than counterparts in other business disciplines or practically any other academic field.  They all throw out other reasons, and sometimes disagree with Selling’s suggested cause.

What follows is my current summary of the discussion.


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Tom Selling, author of The Accounting Onion

Tom Selling, author of the The Accounting Onion, has just published a new post, “Why Do Accounting Academics Blog Less Than Other Academics?” [October 12, 2011]

There is a very select list of bloggers who I view as must reads.  Tom is on that list.  He is both an excellent writer and an insightful commentator.  He also is a retired professor.

The organizational structure of his post is very interesting.  I can’t ever recall Tom sharing details of his speaking engagements, but he does today.  He starts his post by disclosing that he will be the keynote speaker to an accounting academic conference (Northeast Section, American Accounting Association) on Friday, October 28, 2011.  He has been asked to speak on IFRS issues, a subject he has blogged on dozens of times in recent years.  He’s the only blogger who has written more frequently on the subject than I.

In other words, the organizers of an accounting academic conference have decided to give top billing to a blogger.  Yet, accounting academics shun the act of blogging for themselves?  Why is that?


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Ed Ketz, Penn State accounting professor and late of the Accounting Cycle column at Smartpros, has moved to an independent blog.  Co-authored with Anthony Catanach (Villanova accounting professor), his new blog is titled Grumpy Old Accountants.  The blog’s URL is:


Being aware of Ed’s intentions, I asked him a few questions.  His answers provide a great introduction to the new blog:

(1)  The Summa: Why the move to an independent blog?

Ed Ketz:  While happy with the folks at SmartPros, I thought this move would give me greater control over the writing and publishing process.  I can upload as many essays as I wish, as often as I wish, with whatever length I wish, and so on.  Of course, there is no such thing as a free lunch, so it comes at a cost of dealing with the mechanics of blogging instead of having others do that for me.

(2)  The Summa: What is the theme for this blog?  What is it to be about?

Ed Ketz: The theme will be essentially as the same for “Spirit of Accounting” or “Accounting Annotations” or “The Accounting Cycle,” my earlier delivery vehicles for opinion pieces: financial accounting and reporting, which includes financial statement and internal control auditing.  We hope to provide constructive criticism about financial reporting issues from the perspective of users—not managers and not shills for managers, of which there are many.

(3)  The Summa: What was your favorite post from “The Accounting Cycle”?

Ed Ketz: I have several favorites, but I’ll limit myself to two related ones.  The first was “Computer Associates: A Reprise” (2004), in which I reviewed why I told a New York Times reporter in May 2001 that I felt Computer Associates was purposely and aggressively overstating its revenues and why the SEC should have investigated the case earlier.  The related piece (also written in 2004) was “Conversations with Ira Zar,”  who was the CFO of Computer Associates in the early 2000s.  In this piece I told the story of his flying to State College to meet me on two different occasions.  During the first, in 2001, Ira tried to convince me that I was wrong and that the accounts were properly kept; he reiterated these claims in our 2003 meeting.  I ended the column wondering what Ira and I would talk about if we ever meet a third time.

(4)  The Summa: Why did you take on a co-author?

 Ed Ketz: I decided to ask a friend to co-write these pieces to ease the burden of writing these essays in sufficient number, especially if I would like a vacation now and then.  More importantly, I like to debate these issues privately before going public.  Finally, since I am often criticized for not having any audit experience, I wanted a partner with the appropriate “credentials” to satisfy these naysayers.

The question for me was whom to ask.  But, that narrowed down very quickly as I wanted somebody who thought similarly and had the courage of his convictions, and top of the list was Tony Catanach.  Tony would add that he is charming, but as I am not a CPA, I cannot audit his attestations.

(5)  The Summa: What else would you like to tell us?

Ed Ketz: Be careful with your investments.  As society dithers with Enrons and Lehmans and refuses to make substantive changes in accounting and auditing institutions, there will be future meltdowns in the future.  The next major scandal is not far away and your equity investments make take more hits.

A new feature of the blog is e-mail subscription, which was not available at SmartPros.

On the downside, there is no online index of Ketz’s previous work for the Accounting Cycle.  As of this writing, his previous essays are still on-line, but you need to locate them first via web search.

Ed Ketz and Anthony Catanach have a winner in Grumpy Old Accountants.  And they aren’t grumpy toward me.  Please go on over and subscribe to e-mail alerts.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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It is late March and windy in Chicago.  It must be that I’m attending the annual conference for MBAA International at the historic Drake Hotel.

The MBAA conference annual draws about 800 academics from the areas of finance, accounting, international business, marketing, management, legal studies, information systems, economics, operations management and entrepreneurship, case research, and BSG (business society and government).  As you might imagine, I’m here for accounting.

I like coming to the NAAS portion of the MBAA conference.  There are only 80 accounting academics in attendance, but they all are really cool (especially TF).

This post is about my presentation, titled:

If you want, you can view my presentation slides.

Should professors be using blogging in the classroom? Duhhhh, yes.  Blogging should be used in any class where the professor wants to accomplish anything other than memorization for multiple choice tests.  It is not uncommon for teachers to use blogging in elementary education classes.  If second graders can handle it, then college students should be able to.

A professor does not need to be a blogger to use blogging in the classroom.

Why use blogging?  For many reasons, but here are two.  First, it’s a social media world.  College students that can do anything with SM other than Facebook are at a premium.  Accounting and law firms use social media and blogging.  Obtaining SM proficiency gives students a leg up when they graduate.  Second, it’s such an easy tool to use if you want students to do anything more than memorize.

There are four ways to use blogging in the classroom:

  1. Professor can transmit useful content to students.  Blogging is a great platform for writing informative essays.
  2. Professors can introduce a provocative issue in a blog post, and require students to make comments.  The first student reacts to what the professor wrote.  Each successive student reacts to what both the professor and previous commenting students wrote.  It is a great way to achieve a group thinking environment.
  3. Professors can assign students to write their own blog posts, and then publish them to the student’s own blog or to a group blog.  This is a great way for a student to learn what others in the class are thinking.
  4. Professors can assign blog essays that are published and available on the web, and then students can write their analysis of or reaction to that essay.  These can be submitted online or via paper.

There are three types of blogs and blog posts:

  1. Informative or news.  The purpose of these types of blogs is to pass along news tidbits.  A great example in tax is the TaxProf, by Paul Caron.  He gets about 7,000,000 hits per year.  I asked another tax professor if he reads TaxProf, and he responded that he does on a daily basis.  I then asked him if he has his students read TaxProf.  He said no.  No?  By the way, Professor Caron makes the Accounting Today list of 100 most influential people in the American accounting world.
  2. Commentary or editorial.  Most bloggers have an opinion and they want to persuade readers.  Having students read, analyze and react to these commentaries is a great way to introduce students to developing professional values.  So often professors never ask students what they think.  This is a great way of doing so.  In the study of liberal arts, critical thinking is defined as reading, analyzing and reacting. A great example of this in the accounting area is the Accounting Onion, by Tom Selling.
  3. Lifestyle, or welcome to my life.  Students don’t yet know what it is like to be working as an accountant.  A blog focused on the young accountant’s working environment is a great way of showing students what the working world of accounting is like.  Examples are Accountant by Day (working accountant), and Pondering the Classroom (accounting professor).

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Being Thankful

Many bloggers write about the things for which they are grateful.  I’ve already done so over at Pondering the Classroom’sThanksgiving at College, 2010.”

Over here at The Summa, I have a separate list of things for which to be grateful.

  • My favorite bloggers:  Francine McKenna (re: The Auditors), Jim Peterson (re:Balance), Sara McIntosh (Sara McIntosh), Caleb Newquist (Going Concern), Tom Selling (Accounting Onion), Adrienne Gonzalez (Jr. Deputy Accountant), Ed Ketz (Accounting Cycle) and Edith Orenstein (FEI Blog).  Gang, you are all my favorites, so the order is meaningless.  You each inspire me.  As a group, you have been so kind as to let me join your world.
  • Bob Jensen and AECM.  My colleagues in the world of academic accounting.  I would know nothing about accounting of any importance if it weren’t for Bob and AECM.
  • The House of Lords, and its grilling of the audit industry (aka Big 4).  It’s about time someone in government embarrassed these big firms.
  • My readers, who remain faithful despite my inability to post on a regular basis.
  • My students, who keep me connected to the good in accounting.
  • Skype, which keeps me connected to my family.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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I have two blogs:  The Summa and Pondering the Classroom.   I hope you read both.

The Summa, as you know, is a commentary type of blog.  Mostly the posts are editorials where I take a position on a current professional accounting or auditing issue, and argue for my position.  Although I occasionally lapse into lifestyle/humor or news, mostly I am providing commentary in which I fit a current event into my worldview.

Pondering the Classroom is what is called a lifestyle blog–about higher education.  Lifestyle posts revolve around reflection and the point I have to make.  It is not about what I ate for breakfast (blueberry waffles), nor it is about why I ate what I ate for breakfast (it was there).  No, it is about issues that come up in my classes and what I think about them.

I have written a few posts that you might find enjoyable.  Click on the links below and check them out.

As you can plainly see, there is no overlap in subject or style.  That’s why there are two different blogs.  I’m hoping you will become regular readers of both.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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AECM (Accounting Education Using Computers and Multimedia) is the listserv for accounting professors.  Membership fluctuates between 600-1,000.

Over the years, the e-mail discussions have been carried out between Bob Jensen, David Fordham, Paul Williams, Jagdish Gangolly, Amy Dunbar, Ed Scribner, Richard Campbell, myself and several others (my apologies for not mentioning any that want to be recognized).

How do these discussions get started?  It’s just like in any group.  Usually there’s a leader, who in this case is Bob Jensen (emeritus professor from Trinity University).  He’s always finding interesting articles out on the web (he’s a prolific surfer).  He’ll bring them to our attention, sometimes with his own comment.  Then, if the article strikes someone’s fancy, they’ll respond and pretty soon there’s a pretty good exchange going.  Discussions can get started in other ways, but not usually.

In recent years, Bob has been picking up on the commentary provided by bloggers.  Bob has passed along links to many posts written by some of the AECM members.

Bill McCarthy (Michigan State AIS guru) got the idea that a blogger panel discussion at the American Accounting Association annual meeting would be a good idea.  Five of us–Tom Selling, Ed Ketz, Francine McKenna, Joe Hoyle and myself–quickly jumped on board.  At the last minute, I’ve had to drop off due to a scheduling conflict.  It has been eating at me for weeks that I won’t be there on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 in San Francisco.

Here’s a preview of these bloggers and what they mean to AECM.


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[Ever get something wrong?  I made an error in the first version of this post (March 9, 2010).  I have fixed the error.  My apology to several fine people for implying they are accounting pornographers.  They aren’t.]

We get into some strange conversations over on AECM (Accounting Education Using Computers and Multimedia), the listserv for accounting professors.  One started out innocently enough, then took a exotic turn in the direction of wierd.


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I have decided to revise this post, and it has a distinct url:  https://profalbrecht.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/what-is-accounting-pornography-revised/ I’ve kept this page here so you can read the original user comments.

In my original version of this post, I incorrectly identified those who create accounting pornography.  The true accounting pornographers are those who perpetrate accounting frauds.  Shame on them.

Debit and credit – – David Albrecht

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Today I shine a bright light on some blog posts that are not only interesting, but also imaginative and compelling.   More than posts, they truly are articles in the fine tradition of business journalism.   They are examples of a powerful force in accounting news.

In a perfect world, everyone would have a focus on current events.   I recently wrote the following in “Questions From a Future Blogger” (Jan. 14, 2010).

Accounting and/or financial blogs are a big deal. As the world evolves and becomes faster paced, long-lived jobs will disappear. We accountants will adapt by piecing together a career from many project-length opportunities. I believe it will be a matter of professional life or death for accountants to get on top of evolving current events and stay there. For there to be life, we all need to make life-long learning a lifestyle …

How will we learn to think [new] ways and grow our thinking? Independent blogs commentaries like The Summa, and re: The Auditors, and TaxGirl. Blogs provide input to fuel critical thinking, seeds for creating thinking, and energy for practical thinking.

The purpose of today’s installment of The Summa is to bring a few of last week’s best and smartest to your attention.  By doing so, I hope to whet your appetite for the good stories to be written this coming week.  These are the must reads.


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Here is a list of my scheduled presentations, as well as the books/videos on my bed stand.


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