Purpose: This paper aims to contribute to the emerging literature on accounting education in the COVID-19 context. It proposes expanding the literature in its methodological, geographical and conceptual components. Design/methodology/approach: This paper is a qualitative study that used a survey as the method. A total of 122 instructors answered the survey from 22 accounting programmes offered in 11 Colombian cities. The dialogic education model of Paulo Freire is the framework for analysis. Findings: The accounting instructors’ response was to move from face-to-face classrooms to online classrooms, using widely known platforms. The instructors quickly learned to use tools that enabled new dialogue mechanisms with the students. The result was, paradoxically, closer communication at a distance. Research limitations/implications: The COVID-19 lockdown accelerated the changes in teaching, learning, contextualisation, use of “new” technologies and, above all, practising Freirian dialogue. There is a need to research longer periods and use more data collection and analysis tools. Practical implications: Evidence of how to teach accounting en masse from online classrooms in a developing country could accelerate the expansion of virtual accounting programmes. Social implications: The new context allows increasing the number of students because it does not require travel to large cities. Originality/value: This paper makes three contributions to the literature on accounting education in the COVID-19 context as follows: it describes the phenomenon in Colombia, a context little studied in the international accounting literature; transcends autoethnographic studies, as it is based on a qualitative survey of national scope and analyses the phenomenon based on Paulo Freire’s complete model, which includes context, educational process design and action process.