Customized Multimedia Software for Teaching Managerial Accounting: The Author Discusses Software He Developed to Teach Undergraduate Managerial and Cost Accounting, and He Offers It Free to Instructors

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This article presents what I believe is an innovative approach to teaching cost accounting and, potentially, other areas of accounting. I transformed my lecture notes into accounting application software composed of several computer-assisted learning modules designed for self-study of managerial and cost accounting concepts. I designed each module based on several fundamental learning principles identified in the pedagogical literature that assesses the potential of multimedia as both a teaching and learning device. One of the modules simulates a cost system that embodies several basic computer-based features commonly found in commercial software. The purpose of its design is to present cost accounting from a computer-based perspective to students--as opposed to the traditional T-account, manual approach. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the modules are effective in enhancing student understanding of the basic components of a cost system.

Because of today's advanced and affordable computer technology, the only thing holding accounting professors back from truly innovative instruction is our own lack of creativity.

In this article and in my discussion of the software I developed, I demonstrate some methods for combining visuals, otherwise known as schematics, and affordable software development applications in order to design potentially powerful interactive, instructional accounting modules. Three computer software modules presented here can be used to supplement traditional instruction of undergraduate managerial and cost accounting courses. The software modules provide students with an opportunity to observe the dynamic nature of cost accounting data extracted from the manufacturing process. The modules use animation and visuals, and two of them offer extensive interactivity.

First I will discuss the merits of multimedia as a potentially powerful pedagogical tool. Then I will explain how I integrated multimedia into the instructional design of the modules and the subsequent testing and evaluation of their effectiveness. I conclude with suggestions on how multimedia technology might contribute to other areas of accounting.


Accounting education is in the midst of a dramatic transition from a traditional bookkeeping focus to an emphasis on specific knowledge and skills related to accounting technology. Various critics have urged that accounting education shift its focus toward knowledge and skills related to information technology, computing, and systems. (1) The Accounting Education Change Commission's (AECC) "AECC Urges Decoupling of Academic Studies and Professional Examination Preparation: Position Statement Number Two" asserts that the first accounting course should address "the principles underlying the design, integrity, and effectiveness of accounting information systems." (2)

Multimedia technology seems to be an obvious pedagogical tool for meeting the AECC's objectives. Rather than just having students read about the "design," "integrity," and "effectiveness" of information systems, I would like them to also interact with affordable, low-end software packages, particularly pedagogically engineered multimedia modules that simulate commercial packages. For example, a module on computer-based controls could present several independent versions of a sales-order entry system. Each version would manifest a different set of control attributes, such as completeness tests, validity tests, limit tests, and equality tests. Hence, the user can interact and learn how to assess a particular control set without having to run transactions through a student version of a commercial package.

Perhaps this explains why there are high expectations that computer-assisted teaching/learning potentially will be a catalyst of change in education, according to researchers. (3) They have asserted that the use of such technology in recent years is the third revolution in higher education, following television and the microcomputer. …