5 great tools for accounting educators

Expand your teaching toolbox with these finds from the AAA Annual Meeting.
By Courtney Vien

We learned about many valuable teaching tools at this year’s AAA Annual Meeting and Conference for Teaching and Learning in Accounting in San Diego. Here are five that we think can really enhance your classroom:

Adobe Spark

Anxious about making videos for your classes? Adobe Spark makes creating videos as easy as putting together a PowerPoint. This free, graphic design app lets you create polished-looking videos that incorporate still and moving images, text, and even music. It’s very intuitive to use, includes templates that work for a variety of material, and lets you share your presentations over email or social media.

Adobe Spark can also be used to create web stories and to superimpose text on images for posting on social media. It’s a mobile app compatible with Apple devices.

Explain Everything

Dubbed a “virtual whiteboard,” the Explain Everything app makes it easy to create simple or multimedia presentations. You can use it both as a slideshow for live presentations or for recording lectures for online or flipped classrooms. It allows you to write or draw over images as you speak, just as you would on a whiteboard, zoom in or out on images, and move them around on the screen. You can also import videos, images, and PDFs from a wide variety of sources, including iTunes, Dropbox, Google Drive, and more. Students will enjoy creating presentations with it as well.

Explain Everything costs $4.99 per user per year for educators and students. It’s compatible with Apple devices and most of its features are available for Windows and Android devices.

Google Forms

Many people use Google Forms to invite others to events, collect RSVPs, or ask for sign-ups. But Google Forms also have classroom applications. You can use them to quickly and easily create a simple survey, quiz, or opinion poll, or gather contact information from your students. Google Forms offers many options for question types, including multiple choice, select-all-that-apply, and questions that require brief or paragraph-length text answers. You can make quizzes or surveys with multiple sections and incorporate pictures or video.

Once you’ve completed your form, you can share it via email, Facebook, or Twitter. Then, you can view both individual responses and aggregate data. Google Forms is free to use and browser-based.


Wish your students’ presentations were more concise? Have them use the PechaKucha format: a slideshow featuring exactly 20 images with 20 seconds of narration for each. In a PechaKucha presentation, the images advance automatically, requiring speakers to stay on track. Many examples of these presentations are available online. They are brief, compact, and often surprisingly compelling.

Though PechaKucha is a trademarked term, educators are allowed to use the name and the format free of charge in a classroom setting. Here’s how to use Powerpoint or Keynote to create a PechaKucha

Viz of the Day

Every day, Tableau posts a beautiful visualization that a user has made with its software. Browse the gallery to find examples that might be germane to your classes, or send them to your students to illustrate what can be done with data visualization.

Editor’s note: Thank you to the following faculty members who presented on or mentioned these tools at the 2017 AAA Annual Meeting and Conference on Teaching and Learning in Accounting: Mfon Akpan, National Louis University (Adobe Spark); Susan Crosson, CPA, Emory University and Director, Center for Advancing Accounting Education, AAA (PechaKucha, Viz of the Day); Yaneli Cruz, Ph.D., Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (PechaKucha); Patricia Johnson, CPA, the State University of New York, Fredonia (Google Forms); Uma Sridharan, Ph.D., Columbus State University (Explain Everything).

To comment on this article, email lead editor Courtney Vien.

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