Experienced Facilitator Workshops: What do they do?

By Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA
May 29, 2019

“Community is much more than belonging to something; it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter.”

–              Brian Solis

For a group of individuals to be defined as a community, participants are committed to a common goal that gives them unity, while collaborating in an interactive manner, with general agreed-upon procedures, where individuals are responsible for their contributions towards the community’s shared goal (Case and Balcaen, p. 89, 2008)[1]

In recent months, the CPA Western School of Business (CPAWSB) hosted several in-person, an online, and a recorded version of 2019 Experienced Facilitator Training. This training brought together online facilitators to refine and hone their skills to further the School’s mission to deliver the preeminent business and accounting education to candidates and students.

In 2019, CPA Canada introduced data analytics to its competency map, the document that defines the competencies expected of tomorrow’s CPAs and from which education and exams are developed. Consistent with the principles we are teaching, the training was designed with the assistance of data analytics to address the needs and wants of online educators, candidates, and various other CPAWSB stakeholders, by way of “medium data” (a play on words for ‘big data’), to ensure the School’s educators remain at the forefront of accounting education.

The half-day sessions provided space for trainees to connect in Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver in a physical location during the Winter months. The sessions focused on emotional intelligence, the significance of communication, the importance of getting buy-in and working smarter, not harder without sacrificing effectiveness by using data strategically. We also discussed how to measure the positive reinforcement of our positive impacts through a tool we referred to as the “smile file.” 

We delved into the subjects of vulnerability and the importance of integrating accurate assessments and professional judgment. We co-developed methods for crafting and refining value-added feedback. Intertwined throughout this packed session were tangible examples of trips to big-box stores and yoga studios to parallel the lessons of education.

Oh, and don’t worry. It wasn’t all hard-core data and accounting co-mingled into a snooze-fest; we embraced levity. Each session commenced with “Fun – and unexpected – Facts” about the participants and the hosts. We learned that our facilitators are risk takers (too many stories of motorcycles, travel experiences, and adventure sports to name!), childhoods growing up in interesting family businesses, and facilitators who raise chickens and bees!

Trust yet verify, CPAs certainly aren’t boring. 

Learning is multi-faceted; at the School, CPA PEP modules are delivered blended online and in-person. These training sessions made clear that educators, regardless of their platform, care. We voluntarily step out of our comfort zones and continue to embrace the vulnerability of being learners ourselves.

At CPAWSB, we are educators who learn and grow together to educate tomorrow’s CPAs.  

We are Community.

Samantha Taylor, PME, CPA, CA, is an educator and lead policy advisor for CPAWSB, and an instructor of accounting at Dalhousie University. She is on a mission to understand and enable learner efficacy while eliminating doldrums occasionally associated with accounting education. Read more of Sam’s posts at the CPAWSB blog.


[1] Case, R., & Balcaen, P. (2008). “Supporting a community of critical thinkers.” In: Case, R. & Clark, P. (Eds.). The Anthology of Social Studies: Issues and Strategies for Elementary Educators, Pacific Educational Press, Vancouver