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Marine Learning Systems: Shipping revises attitude to elearning

Vancouver: The maritime industry is a little behind most other industries in its use of learning technologies – but that is now changing very rapidly, reckons one of the pioneers of elearning, Murray Goldberg, the founder and ceo of Marine Learning Systems (MarineLMS).
“In a very short time the elearning discussion in the industry has become more sophisticated and informed,” he tells Maritime CEO, “and the rhetoric around elearning has become more subdued.”
Reasons for slower initial adoption are, according to Goldberg, down to two things. First, the maritime industry is one that places a great deal of emphasis on tradition and individual expertise, which makes it slower to embrace new tools. Second, the maritime context really is different than that of most other industries. The job is complex, multi-sited – it happens on multiple vessels, and often disconnected with a lack of internet connections.
“These issues have made traditional learning management systems (LMSs) far less effective in the maritime industry – which also goes a long way to explaining the lack of early adoption. This is the reason that a maritime-specific LMS was required, and we are happy to be a part of that,” says Goldberg, a man who knows more than most about elearning.
Back in 1994, when the internet was still in its infancy, Goldberg, then a faculty member of computer science at the University of British Columbia, conducted a study to look at academic outcomes for lecture-based classes, web-based classes and combined lecture/web classes.
“To my surprise,” he recalls, “I found that my students could learn very well via the web, and even better when they had access both to lectures and the web-based class.” While deemed a great result, it was hard to duplicate because the original web-based course he and his fellow coworkers had created took one year of effort, a lot of technical expertise, and cost about $50,000 in research funding. So rather than spend a second year to build a second course, he had his team build some tools which made the creation of web-based courses faster and easier. The tools were called WebCT which stood for Web Course Tools.
“Little did I know,” he admits, “that WebCT would become the most widely used LMS in the world. We grew to be used by 14m students at 4,000 universities in 80 countries.”
Goldberg got involved in the maritime business back in 2007 when BC Ferries sought better, standardized training and assessment practices.
Today, MarineLMS uses a technology called adaptive learning. In a nutshell, this means that MarineLMS can deliver training which is automatically targeted to the specific vessel, routines, and equipment that the trainee needs to know. The effect is that the LMS provides training which appears as though it was compiled by hand for that person, in that position, while operating on that specific vessel, and using that specific equipment.
“We feel this kind of targeted training is critically important for safe and efficient operations in this day of increasingly complex vessels and equipment,” Goldberg maintains, noting that the IMO has begun to recognize this with the requirement for type-specific ECDIS training. “The truth is that this should apply to all complex equipment,” insists Goldberg.  [12/02/14]


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