New Zealand Applied Business Education Conference (Non refereed paper section) Cover Page


New Zealand Applied Business Education Conference

(Non refereed paper section)

Cover Page


“Solutions to the Five Main Barriers Faced when Teaching

Electronic Accounting.”

Author Details :

Les Armstrong

The Business Education Company Ltd

10 Torlesse Street


New Zealand


Telephone 03 547 6105

Fax 03 547 6102


Les Armstrong has travelled the world researching ‘best practice’ teaching and learning strategies for accounting students.

His asset to education is his ability to make the complicated simple, and the boring interesting! No mean feat in the area of accounting

In 1998 Les and his daughter Rebekah researched preferred teaching and learning styles with approximately 1000 students from 13 different cultures in South Africa.

In 1999 he won the prestigious Associated Polytechnics of New Zealand national staff award for excellence and innovation in teaching.

In 2001 he took a year off work to write and publish what has already become an internationally acclaimed computer accounting workbook and textbook.

This session will show you how you can effectively teach computer accounting regardless of the level of your prior knowledge or confidence in computer skills…

Session Abstract


“Solutions to the Five Main Barriers Faced when Teaching Electronic Accounting.”



The Five Solutions)

1) Choice of Content

The Chart of Accounts is a must!

2) Time Constraints

How to teach manual accounting smarter and quicker


Combating “Automating the Predictable”

The silent killer of education


Moving the Odds in the Tutor’s Direction

How to manage and use a General ledger accounting package

In a computer lab situation.

5) Choosing what to teach on a commercial accounting package?

“Solutions to the Five Main Barriers

Faced When Teaching Electronic Accounting”

As the 21 st

century unfolds traditional based accounting teachers emphasise double based entry, accruals, multi column journals, closing entries, T accounts and so on...

On the other hand computer based accounting teachers emphasise the chart of the accounts, subsidiary ledgers, batch entries, databases and so on....

The financial statements produced from both learning streams are identical; however I would suggest that the preferred accounting educational learning journey lies somewhere between.

The ‘knowledge age’ innovators are superb at automating the predictable, and generating a wide range of extra reports, graphs and breakdowns outside the general ledger. In doing these educators often omit, or don’t have tine to teach the traditional manual accounting skills that underpin these electronic systems.

The paradox is that students taught by traditional accounting teachers often flounder and do not recognise the value of their manual learning when exposed to commercial accounting packages. On the other hand, students taught by modernistic computer accounting teachers often do recognise the value and importance of the double entry model, journal entries and accruals. When these students are faced with electronic accounting errors or omissions, they often lack the substance and understanding to be able to reverse the errors or include the omissions, let alone visualise the downstream effect of these adjustments.


(With suggested solutions)


1) What to actually teach in electronic accounting sessions

The Chart of Accounts takes on a crucial role in computerised accounting. On the other hand closing entries, multi column journals and hours and hours of manual postings from journals to ledgers is of relatively lesser importance nowadays.

2) How to teach manual accounting faster

The process of manual accounting is still an essential part of the learning sequence, however with more time allotted to the computer room and less to the classroom; it would be good if this labour intensive learning process could be shortened. We have successfully researched a way that works. Doing the whole process on one page, and giving students the complete big picture on day one. Refer to module one of “The ABC Workbook” mentioned at the end of this paper.

3) The “Educational killer” within all commercial accounting packages

Over 85% of the world’s business transactions involve just four transactions!

Cash sales, cash purchases, credit sales and credit purchases.

For the sake of speed and productivity, software programmers automate and hide the highly predictable and repetitive parts of transaction. (Eg the bank account) Hence the double entry process is not always observable on screen; this can be disconcerting for students that have rigorously and manually learned the double entry model. Teachers need to go and find the double entry process in the engine rooms of these automated packages and explain the apparent inconsistency in the double entry model to students. A little common sense explanation at this stage will pay large learning dividends later on.

4) Class management within the labs, network issues and educating the educators

If the students understand what is expected of them and are motivated, class management is relatively easy. If the software is easy to use and stable, network issues and educating the educators is not difficult. Any accounting teacher can use the software we have developed. It takes a maximum of one hour to learn it. Go to pages 23 to 27 of the “ The ABC book” mentioned at the conclusion of this paper and teach yourself.

5) Too much going on to fast, when your students first use a commercial package

This is the most common trap that teachers fall into when students are let loose on a commercial accounting package. Focus on the most common subsidiary system used by small businesses when small businesses want to expand outside the general ledger they break out of the common ledger. ie. accounts receivable.

We show you how to do this in module 8 of “The ABC book”.

“ Teach the tip of the iceberg with understanding, rather that teaching the whole iceberg and experiencing a titanic disaster!”

To address the five issues mentioned above, we first developed a general ledger accounting software package called “Explore Accounting for Windows” (Acronym


The objective of this accounting package is to honour the best of both manual and electronic learning environments, and provide a bridge from one to the other.

To facilitate this challenging unification, the following features have been included in the software.

Traditional manual debit/credit journal entry screens are used.

Students can edit or delete any transaction anytime and the effects ripple through the general ledger, financial statements and analysis figures instantaneously.

The ledger accounts, trial balance, performance and position statements are all presented in a simple ‘no frills’ format, in a similar way that a student would prepare them manually.

We then developed a combination workbook/textbook that sequenced the learning so as the accounting equation, the debit/credit rules AND the chart of accounts were all rolled into one learning experience in the first two modules of ‘The ABC book’.

Manual accounting can be done without a chart of accounts. Computerised accounting cannot!

It is imperative that the chart of accounts is put on a pedestal along with the accounting equation and the debit credit rules; only then are students equipped to begin walking the bridge from manual accounting to electronic accounting.

We got so excited with the workbook/textbook that we decided to go all the way and added modules for special journals, accruals, inventories, analysis and interpretation,

GST, and in the final module we introduce students to commercial accounting software in an understandable and attainable manner.

The outcomes achieved in the process of doing this first book, motivated us to prepare

“The Absolute Beginners Course in Double Entry Accounting.” booklet, which is designed to be photocopied and used as a tantalising taster for year 9 and/or year 10 students. The entire learning experience in the booklet revolves around four short business stories...

The feedback we are receiving is telling us that the EactWin way of learning accounting and business skills are already making huge inroads into a subject that is often needlessly perceived as dull, difficult and boring. At the same time these students are moving onto MYOB and/or Quickbooks in a more positive and less frustrating manner that a lot of their predecessors.

Presenter: Les Armstrong