Nano Learning: A Short Story

By Jason Ray, Analyst – AICPA Portfolios and Product Development

September 29, 2017

Have you ever not known how to do something, so you looked online to find a short “how-to” video or step-by-step article to help you accomplish your task? 

Take household repairs, for example. Have you ever had a garbage disposal stop working or come home to a pool of water under your refrigerator? When faced with something like this, you can either call a plumber or repairman, or you can try to fix it yourself. The first option involves having to wait for someone to come to you, and it may end up being costly. Finding a “how-to” video and fixing it yourself saves money, allows you to solve the problem quickly, and move on with your day. 

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This is a prime example of the convenience of nano learning.

In the past, online learning has consisted of at least an hour of educational material and sometimes multiple days of instruction, interactions, and broadcasts. While these types of online courses are extremely valuable, sometimes a busy professional just doesn’t have the hours or days to devote to learning a concept.  

That’s where the benefits of nano learning really come into play. Nano learning courses are meant to be a quick way to get the information you need right when you need it. In daily life, you’ll encounter situations in which you are uncertain, or you lack the knowledge to move forward. Nano learning courses are meant to fill in these gaps, allowing you to assist your clients better. Plus, you could even earn continuing professional education (CPE) credit. Many state licensing boards are now embracing nano learning and allowing these courses to qualify for CPE (often with a fraction of an hour earned for each bite-size course). Check with your state licensing board to see if this learning opportunity is available to you.

In a world that moves at fiber optic speed, it is difficult to keep up with our changing environment. The internet has made finding specific, timely information the norm. As professionals, our desire is to cut out all the noise and focus on the concepts we need to learn. Nano learning courses are quick and specific. The educational content gets straight to the point and covers only the information necessary to learn the main concept(s). 

The AICPA is currently building a comprehensive nano learning library to provide members with quick, needs-based access to lessons that will help practitioners get information they need. The Tax Section Nano Library is the first step in the creation of a much more robust library of efficient learning. Each nano learning course is 10 minutes long and covers a range of tax and practice management topics. Currently, the AICPA provides Tax Section members with free access to the initial 10 nano learning courses, hoping that they will provide feedback to refine and improve the service. Once the feedback is incorporated, the AICPA will release additional courses to fill the library. 

If you have yet to try out the Tax Section Nano Library, please take the time to take a course or two and let us know what you think! Send your comments to: