Making the aerosol and pressurized packaging virtual classroom a reality…
What if there was a place you could go, whenever and wherever you wanted, to learn from trusted industry experts on all facets of the aerosol and pressurized packaging industry?
What if instead of having to set up 5–6 different day-long meetings once or twice a year for new employees to educate them on aerosols and pressurized packaging, you could simply send them a website link and they could learn both individually and immediately?
What if you joined a personal care, household or automotive brand and wanted to understand the possibilities of developing and formulating aerosol or pressurized packaging?
Thanks to the collaboration of all U.S.-based regional and national aerosol associations, this dream is now a reality. Introducing the new Mist:Understood Aerosol & Pressurized Packaging Virtual Classroom.
How it came about
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Aerosol Information Bureau (WAIB), like many other organizations, was contemplating how it could serve its constituency and the industry overall in the absence of in-person events. WAIB leadership had observed a growing trend in virtual learning as people had more time on their hands while staying home and were looking for options for continued learning and development.
“When the idea of creating an online aerosol educational tool was first suggested, I became inspired by my own positive online classroom experience at Google Digital Garage,” said Mary Metzner, WAIB Administrator.
Given the complexity and technical knowhow surrounding aerosols and pressurized packaging, the development team researched resources available to the aerosol and pressurized packaging industry. What it found was a splintered, decentralized offering of information, with varying degrees of credibility; therefore, the idea of a central, credible online source for education seemed like a “no-brainer.”
While performing a survey of current information on aerosols and pressurized packaging available online, the team found there were limited sources of credible, non-biased, easy- to-understand information in one place.
As a WAIB Board Member and an organizer of the initiative, I and my fellow researchers realized that sites such as Wikipedia are open to public editing; some sites have information that is so technical it would be beyond any beginner to understand while other sites are very sales-driven.
Given the potential of the idea, WAIB members felt this was a perfect opportunity for cross-organization collaboration. It engaged the Consumer Aerosol Product Council (CAPCO), National Aerosol Association (NAA), Eastern Aerosol Association (EAA), Midwest Aerosol Association (MAA) and Southern Aerosol Technical Association (SATA) for support.
The aerosol and pressurized packaging industry is a tight-knit community built on relationships and mutual support, and this initiative was no different. It was really special to see all the associations come together (albeit virtually) to support an idea that started on a PowerPoint slide and truly see its potential. The industry partners who provided the content were no different, and a huge kudos to them for collaborating amongst themselves to divide up topics to provide the best possible experience for users of the site.
“The NAA is very grateful for the hard work and cooperation that has accomplished the development of an online Aerosol 101 Class video,” noted Joe Bowen, NAA President.
“This represents a very important, new, on-demand tool for the aerosol industry to provide education to new team members at our companies.”
The Virtual Classroom was developed to be agnostic of suppliers, thus able to interact with any systems or any products in the same category, to avoid having the classes seem like a sales pitch. Classes are limited to 20 minutes or fewer to stay cognizant of attention spans and time constraints, and content is structured to meet the needs of a range of students—from beginners to intermediate to advanced. With more than 200 people enrolled after its launch in September, the Classroom is off to a strong start.
The Virtual Classroom is suitable for those wanting to learn more about the industry. New aerosol industry employees, product developers working on aerosol or pressurized packaging developments, consumers looking to understand more about recyclability and sustainability—the audience possibilities are endless.
The site allows each user to create their own profile where they can keep track of progress. Additionally, every participant who successfully completes a free course will receive a digital certificate of completion that can be easily shared with their employer or on social media platforms such as like LinkedIn.
If you build it, they will come
One of the biggest challenges in rolling out the initiative was convincing industry participants that the Virtual Classroom isn’t meant to replace all-important, in-person educational events—in fact, it’s actually meant to complement them. The team’s research ultimately found that participants appreciated having the option for both in-person and virtual sources for education, which they perceived as a much more modern approach to meet the needs of those interested in learning about the aerosol industry.
The Virtual Classroom launched with a range of beginner level “101” courses, covering topics such as Containers, Propellants, Caps, Actuators, Valves and Recycling. All content was created by trusted industry leaders such as Montebello Packaging, Aeropres Corp., Diversified CPC International, The Chemours Co., LINDAL Group, eStyle Caps & Closures, Silgan Dispensing Systems, Honeywell, Rackow Polymers, the Household & Commercial Products Association (HCPA) and Aptar Beauty + Home.
This launch is just the beginning. We look forward to adding more advanced courses, covering additional topics and areas of interest, as well as expanding offerings to include other resources such as industry profiles, trend information and live webinars. We are also excited to tap the growing base of enrolled learners to find out what they want to learn about and to make sure that that content is offered. SPRAY