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Building professional excellence in the advertising industry

by | Feb 4, 2013 | Case Studies

IPA and Willow DNA, Winners of Best online Distance Learning e-learning Award 2012 offer a credible online approach to CPD for advertising professionals.

The early incarnation of The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising ( IPA ) was mobilised by the government in the first world war  to help produce and coordinate wartime propaganda . Now it is a membership organisation dedicated to raising the professionalism of the UK’s advertising agencies. Its 300 member companies cover over 80% of the UK’s advertising expenditure and employ in aggregate some 18,000 staff with an average age of 32.
The IPA champions  Continuous Professional Development, instilling a culture of learning in member agencies as a platform for business success. Their courses and qualifications are highly regarded, enhance individual careers and set benchmarks for best practice across the advertising, media and marketing communications professions.
Very few entrants to the advertising business have any advertising-related training  and the IPA’s CPD initiatives are the only opportunity to receive external qualifications appropriate to their chosen profession. However with bright, creative and demanding individuals entering the workforce, it was clear that IPA needed to rethink their approach to their core foundation certificate if they were to deliver a rich and responsive experience on a restricted budget and time line.

This case study illustrates the practical ways in which the IPA worked with WillowDNA to

  • Create rich learning paths to integrate online and face to face experiences
  • Engage a wide variety of stakeholders in the process
  • Deliver tangible results.

The credible approach to professionalising an industry

The work with the foundation certificate has opened additional opportunities to apply the Learning Path approach to other CPD opportunities within the IPA and beyond. This award winning programme highlights how an online experience can improve  an individual’s  skills, confidence and know how. It shows how a professional qualification can be designed to not only reach high volumes of staff but to also provide them with a uniquely  rich experience that can be directly applied back in the workplace. At last a credible alternative to professionalising an industry!

10 Top tips for creating engaging  accredited  online learning

If you are looking to create engaging accredited online professional development , here are some lessons that you can draw from this case study

1.    Involve insightful friends and learner champions in the design phase
2.    Simplify the journey for the learner
3.    Make discussion boards high profile as learners log in, seeing colleagues on line removes the sense of isolation and encouraging communities
4.    Draw on the authentic voice of experience using podcasts, video and webinars
5.    Offer job aids and templates that are directly related to personal work challenges and can be reused back in the workplace
6.    Encourage reflection using learning logs
7.    Bring your training staff on board early by including them in the design
8.    Use diagnostic tools to filter learning to ensure it is more personalised and targeted
9.    Work creatively with your Subject matter experts, use video to capture succinct insights.
10.    Design well but don’t forget to promote hard!


This case study has been independently investigated and developed by Towards Maturity as part of our Good practice Partnership with e.Learning Age and the e.Learning Awards..It was first published in e.Learning age Magazine in the Dec2012/jan2013 edition of the magazine..

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Image by Stuart Miles

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