Answering the growing demand for education on your own time, at your own pace and from wherever you are, the Institute of Packaging Professionals (IoPP) launched its first series of educational programs via the Internet in February 2012, starting with its signature Fundamentals of Packaging Technology course at www.iopp.org. Other online educational events will follow, including exclusive, original content supplied by Packaging Digest to supplement IoPP's e-learning offerings.
Developed in cooperation with and funded by General Mills, Kraft, Clorox and Ecolab, the "e-learning" platform for the Fundamentals course is the centerpiece of IoPP's initiative to create and offer downloadable-on-demand training content.
Packaging professionals will have instant access to convenient educational programs at the IoPP website (click the Packaging Learning Center tab and select IoPP E-Learning). The Fundamentals curriculum, for example, has been adapted to an online format that enables professionals to either take the entire course, or select and pay for only the modules they want, then complete the lessons as their schedule allows. Among other benefits, this feature will make it easier to study for the exam that professionals must successfully complete to earn IoPP's Certified Packaging Professional (CPP) designation.
Patrick Farrey, IoPP executive director, explains the benefits of the online learning program. "Packaging teams are decentralized, often working globally, making a common understanding of general packaging technologies difficult to attain, yet critical to each team's success," Farrey says. "By introducing an online format, our Fundamentals of Packaging Technology course becomes a truly global program that helps develop a common understanding of packaging terms-including many technical issues-across global packaging teams."
Available 24/7, the online Fundamentals curriculum entails 42 prerecorded modules and more than 25 hours of content closely resembling IoPP's popular in-person Fundamentals course. Each narrated lesson begins with an overview and ends with both a review and a quiz, enabling students to test their retention of key information.
As with the in-person Fundamentals course, the online lessons will be available to IoPP members at a discount. The purchase menu presents choices for selecting only the training that is needed, a la carte, or choosing from bundled lessons. Participants who complete the entire online course will receive access to ongoing, regularly scheduled online Q&A sessions with IoPP's Fundamentals instructors.
To date, more than 1,500 packaging professionals have earned the CPP designation. Some companies are beginning to prefer or require that certain employees carry the mark as evidence of their expertise in the packaging industry.
Questions posed on the certification test are based extensively on the Fundamentals textbook, and the online course, just like in-person sessions, closely follows concepts in the book.
The institute's in-person classroom training programs, which include Fundamentals and Packaging Machinery: Basics, will continue to be offered for those who prefer face-to-face learning.
But for more technology-attuned people, the online modules may well be the way they want to—even expect to—learn.
The author, Jim George, is IoPP's director of education and can be reached at [email protected] or 630-696-4011.