Online learning is here to stay and will increasingly challenge our preconceptions of how maritime education and training should be delivered, according to an award-winning new UK training provider. Rob Coston reports
Industry body Maritime UK has chosen a maritime training provider as the winner of its 2022 Start-up of the Year, acknowledging the innovative digital delivery methods of Onboard Maritime.
Reflecting on why his company had won the award, Onboard Maritime technical director Angus Ferguson said: 'Widely accepted myths such as "learning is just better in the classroom" and "you can't engage online" don't stand up to current research and developments in the design and delivery of online education.'
Onboard Maritime offers programmes for deck and engineer cadets up to their first Certificate of Competency as well as preparing deck officers for their second certification and through to Master Mariner.
'Digital education best describes what we do,' explained Mr Ferguson. 'It brings together learning in the classroom and at sea, through structured and engaging online programmes supported by subject matter experts.
'We also focus on Continuous Professional Development. We have aligned our e-learning modules with STCW requirements and gained recognition from the Nautical Institute last year.'
The programmes are based on a number of the recommendations made by the Maritime Skills Commission and its work towards the implementation of the UK government's Maritime 2050 Strategy. The structured approach to online learning, embedding it into the existing training function, is different to simply putting existing in-person courses online.
Mr Ferguson is passionate about the benefits of his company's approach: 'Cadets and officers can plan their career progression through self-paced and flexible study programmes to prepare them for professional exams. Training providers and companies have experienced improved retention, a greater success rate in those undertaking exams and a reduction in costs through travel and accommodation whilst at a college. Another benefit is the flexibility in course start dates, with programmes throughout the year and not on fixed dates.'
And Onboard Maritime's award success has confirmed its founder's belief that all maritime trainers should keep an open mind about the development of digital education. 'It can help us address many of the challenges we face today, including accessibility to learning, attracting and retaining talent in the industry, and developing skills in a fast-changing environment.'
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