The Internet contains a limitless amount of information. However, the information must be accessible, organized, and comprehensible to be of value. A series of questions were used to compare and exam these merits in four related web sites, the Institute of Management Accountants , Beta Alpha Psi , the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants , and the National Business Education Association .
Question 1: Are student benefits of membership easily identified?
The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and the National Business Education Association (NBEA) provided pathways to well defined benefits and services. Offerings were fundamentally shared by all three organizations and included scholarships, access to job banks and information resources, special insurance, credit, publication offers and support for political concerns. An IMA article best summed up other benefits. Student member, Anissa Eggen, suggested less tangible advantages of membership. “In search of guidance, I found much more.”
Beta Alpha Psi was the exception. The mission statement presented some idea of membership benefits, “providing interaction among students, faculty, and professionals, and fosters lifelong growth, service and ethical conduct.”Job opportunities and scholarships were also linked within the site, but a clearly defined list of benefits was either absent or beyond simple access.
Question 2: Is the information current?
All sites were maintained remarkably well and provided current information. Examples included IMA’s Special Events Board, which ranged from scholarship deadlines in February to the annual conference in June, NBEA provided access to current Business Education Standards, BAP listed recent summary reports from their National Office, and the AICPA site contained reports updated every weekday.
Question 3: Is the information helpful?
Helpful insights, downloads, and links provided an abundance of useful information. IMA’s offerings included a wide range of online accessible information that ranged from interviewing tips to passing certification exams.
AICPA was also successful in providing useful information. Its strength was in providing information relating to career paths and opportunities. Although some of the information was broad in scope, most of the information was targeted for CPAs.
BAP was limited in the amount of information available to non-members. Nearly all the information was specifically related to the organization.
NBEA was useful in pointing out available resources for educators such as books and conferences but didn’t possess much information beyond that used to describe the organization and its functions.
Question 4: Is interaction difficult?
Interaction was quite smooth. While browsing, navigational links proved to be solid without exception. Graphical interfaces, like IMA’s college campus and BAP’s painter’s pallet, were attractive, well designed and easy to use. NBEA and AICPA used a combination of frames and graphics for link movements. In addition to clearly labeled links, opening pages at all sites presented a simple overview of the entire site.
Question 5: What are the strengths, weaknesses, and overall evaluations of each site?
The IMA site was strong design and content. Downloading the site was relatively quick. The campus design was creative and provided a sense of common ground. Helpful features and resources were provided throughout the site. Examples included the job bank, career counseling, and promising new areas such as chat and discussion forums. Overall this was a very valuable site.
The BAP site was strong in design as well. The graphic interface was very impressive and professional. The site provided a solid introduction to Beta Alpha Psi but offered little more for non-members.
The AICPA was easy to navigate. Industry insights, such possible as salary rates, top ten technology issues, and necessary skills, provided information that extends beyond the CPA realm.
The NBEA site also was strong in design and navigation. The web site like the BAP site provides a strong introduction. The Nation Business Education Association provides members with informative publications and offers insightful conferences. As a student seeking on line information however, not much is offered.
In respect to purpose and target audiences, each web site achieved complimentary goals. Each site defined its organization and made information available, even more so for members, through on line resources or contacts. Each site was structurally organized and information was presented in a comprehensible manner.
A Student’s Perspective by Anissa Eggen http://web.imanet.org/academia/admin/adminf.htm