The advantages of distance and blended learning for marine training centers
In our brave new digital word, various educational institutions are actively searching for emerging opportunities to make the learning process effective, efficient and convenient. The most common techniques are e-learning, distance learning, and webinars. Even though marine training centers are bounded by IMO regulatory rules they still can take advantage of new learning approaches and we will show you how. Here we describe why distance learning is advantageous for both seafarers and training centers. We also suggest you where to start if you want to give it a shot and provide your learners with an online or blended course for marine training.
What are distance and blended learning?
Distance learning is remote education that can be obtained by students not physically presented in class. STCW prohibits completely distance learning with online examination and certification. However, a combination of distance and classroom education also known as blended learning approach is in line with STCW requirements. Blended learning can imply a distance course followed by an exam in a training center as well as a distance course accompanied by classroom and simulator practice and followed by an exam in a training center.
Why is blended learning beneficial for your center?
First of all, a marine training center providing blended learning will receive extra profit due to the arrival of new students who prefer distance learning over traditional classroom education. Since distance learning is a new approach, only a few training centers can offer this possibility at the moment.
Students, in turn, appreciate the opportunity to manage their time freely, be more agile and learn with individual pace. In case of seafarers, this is especially important as they do not always have a possibility to stay at the same location for a long period of time. In general, distance learning is an opportunity to study at a convenient time and place with individual pace. As a result, there is no surprise that students gravitate toward blended courses.
Furthermore, as the material for distance courses is recorded in advance, the workload of the instructors is reduced. Consequently, a training center can decrease operating expenses per student as the same number of instructors can teach more students.
How to start providing the seafarers with a blended course?
Distance learning for marine training centers is somewhat new. Therefore, the most prevalent option, for now, is to order custom development from a regular software company. The main disadvantage of this approach is the high cost of custom development. Moreover, a company without expertize in marine training needs a precise description of what platform you want them to create because it requires in-depth knowledge of the domain. The problem is it is quite intricate to describe all the necessary features since STCW have a bunch of special requirements which make a platform for marine training very different from a regular learning management system.
Additionally, in case of custom development, further improvements of the platform, as well as platform support, will require significant expense. Overall, it is not a bad option since you will get a platform designed specifically for your needs, but nor is it a good one as it is pricey and effortful.
The other option is to use a platform designed specifically for marine training with all STCW requirements considered. In this situation, you do not need to think about technical and maintenance issues and focus only on the content of a course. One of the products that can satisfy your needs is E-marine.
Besides E-marine will provide you with basic functionality, it also offers additional features to increase students’ engagement and make the studies more effective. It includes interactive quizzes and gamification, mock exams for self-test, offline access to course materials, online registration for the exam and practice in a training center, learning with a laptop, tablet, and phone.
With this type of platform it’s easy to start providing blended course — just export the content of your current course to the platform.
The world is inevitably changing towards digital solutions in all areas of life and education is not an exception. New efficient approaches to learning are developing nowadays. Each training center can use this opportunity in order to receive monetary benefits and increase students’ satisfaction and loyalty to the center.