From print to machinima

Posted on: January 31, 2008

This is my attempt to give insights as to how the original case study (see below) evolved from its print format into the machinima version. This evolution is linked directly to the overall course design.

The course goal states:

With an emphasis on professional and ethical practice, students will gain an appreciation of the role and needs of audit professionals in business environments.

Course objectives 1 and 3 are the key targets of the first machinima that we are developing for ACCT19064:

1. given authentic scenarios, evaluate the environment within which the professional auditor operates

3. given case studies, analyse the legal liability and ethical issues, and formulate strategies using common law and ethical decision-making frameworks

Drawing from the principles of cognitive apprenticeship, we believe that enacting the workplace scenarios, and giving insights into the challenges and predicaments of an auditor provides a more powerful tool for the students, i.e. to gain an appreciation of the role and needs of audit professionals. As Bonk and Cunningham point out (1998, p. 27), we need to “anchor learning in real-world or authentic contexts that make learning meaningful and purposeful”. The machinima provides this anchor within which students can analyse ethical and legal issues involving a particular audit client, as they play the role of Audit Assistants operating within an audit team for a fictitious audit firm.

Key changes to the original case storyline

You will note in the original case that the characters are nameless and uses unimaginative names, e.g. “ABC truck”. Because our pedagogical intention is to enable the students to ‘apprentice’ into the profession and to start thinking and acting like auditors, we needed a story that delivers realistic enactments of this profession. In collaboration with Jenny Kofoed (Course Coordinator), I developed a script based on this case for the production of machinima, akin to traditional short film production. We integrated a fictitious audit firm Hird & Co into the story to situate the professional auditing environment for the main character Michelle O’Loughlin. The profiles of other characters were also carefully scripted into the story, to reenact practices of business environments in Australia.

During the writing of the script, I was cognisant of potential challenges that international students might face in the machinima environment, such as language difficulties and cultural differences. For example, the term “secretary manager” might not be as common in other cultures and, for that matter, the organisational sturcture and practices of a “registered club”. The transformation of the case was therefore highly focused on the inclusive nature of the case delivery.

The production of “The Audit Practice” machinima is currently in progress. We have produced the first three scenes, which are mostly background information for the case but also tacitly integrate ethical issues that students need to identify. I am sharing these below along with the original case study.

Scene 1
Scene 2
Scene 3

The original case study (Gay & Simnett, 2007, pp. 133-134) reads:

You are a senior auditor in a firm of auditors in a country town. The major client of the firm is the town’s largest registered club. You are in charge of the audit and report directly to the partner.With the rural recession and the move of certain industries from the town, your firm is your firm is dependent upon the continuance of the club as an audit client.

The secretary manager of the club has held this position for over 20 years, and is well respected in the town. He has worked hard to build the club from humble beginnings. The secretary manager has a strong personality and exerts influence on the board of directors of the club. The audit partner and the secretary manager are members of the same golf club and play regularly on Saturday mornings.

The club is currently undergoing major renovations with the work being undertaken by ABC Builders.

To get home you have to drive past the secretary manager’s house. One night you notice that the secretary manager is having more renovations done to his home and that there is an ABC truck delivering materials to the house. Next day at lunchtime you drive past the house and again see an ABC truck and this time there are tradespeople working on the house.

You have just commenced the year-end audit work for the club and during your vist to the club’s premises, you obtain copies of the tenders for the renovations and find that ABC was the most expensive tenderer with the director’s minutes revealing that the secretary manager convinced the board to accept ABC’s tender based on their perceived quality.

You are concerned that there may be some impropriety on the part of the secretary manager. You raise your suspicions with the audit partner, who dismisses them out of hand and says that even if there was any substance to them, what could the firm do about them.


Bonk, C. J., & Cunningham, D. J. (1998). Searching for learner-centered, constructivist, and sociocultural components of collaborative educational learning tools. In C. J. Bonk & K. S. Kim (Eds.), Electronic collaborators: learner-centered technologies for literacy, apprenticeship, and discourse (pp. 25-50). Erlbaum, New Jersey.

Gay, G. & Simnett, R. (2007). Auditing and assurances services in Australia. 3rd edn. McGraw-Hill, North Ryde.


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