CIPS buys into life-long learning

'Life-long learning' for business professionals is becoming easier and more cost-effective to deliver thanks to burgeoning content management technology.

The word 'training' never strays far from the lips of Government, which has been putting increasing pressure on professional bodies to sustain the up-to-date skills of its membership.

An accepted element in career development, continuous learning is becoming adopted at a growing rate in both institutional and commercial sectors.

Serving the purchasing and supply profession, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) provides a wide range of member services including a programme of continuing improvement in professional standards, also known as continuing professional development (CPD).

CIPS is an international education and qualification body. The largest organisation of its kind in Europe, it acts as a central reference point world wide on matters relating to purchasing and supply chain management.

Its Professional Code of Ethics is the model for the international code and the domestic codes of many countries.

Besides the recognition of professional status that membership bestows, involvement in the work of CIPS allows its members to keep up to date with latest developments through a comprehensive range of courses, conferences and publications.

Seeking a solution to flexible distribution and cost-effective re-purposing of student learning determined that CIPS should take advantage of Echelon Learning's bespoke content management system (CMS).

"Content management provides us with a much more flexible and cost effective way of publishing," says Michael Campbell, CIPS Director of Business Development. "We were sold on the idea of adopting the technology when we came to produce learning materials for our new 2006 qualification ladder."

The project has involved designing, commissioning, developing and delivering a series of 17 course books for CIPS students. Over 1,700 hours worth of study material spread across nearly 4,000 pages of text are being developed over a 12-month period.

The work involves finding authors and subject matter experts to write to an agreed syllabus and within agreed style guidelines. These are tutored on how to author within the content management templates, provide a distance learning editing service to ensure the content is attractive to assimilate and easy to use, copy edit the manuscripts for consistency, content manage the accepted material, and proof read the final output.

Strong project management skills are required to ensure that the huge number of documents flow through the system efficiently. A key part of the content management system (known as the 'authoring website') enables any participant to check on the status of each course book at any point in time during the

"It not only provides a highly effective means of managing a complex project but by originating materials in XML format offers us the flexibility to publish the final content on the web and a very cost effective means of keeping content up to date," says Campbell.

"This technology allows us to offer a seamless approach to student study with content being used as stand-alone solutions to job-based problems or as part of an integrated study programme, benefiting new and established members."

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