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Monday, November 30, 2020

Maritime Logistics Professional

Why is Maritime Training 15 Years Behind?

Posted to Maritime Training Issues with Murray Goldberg (by on August 20, 2015

When I became involved with the maritime industry in 2007, there was not an LMS in sight. At least not one for the benefit of the vast majority of maritime employees – those who worked at sea. Why did the maritime industry seem to be immune to the positive changes all around it over the preceding 12 years or so?

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Introduction

I have been involved in eLearning research and development since the mid 1990’s. It was an amazing time. The world was discovering that eLearning could improve educational access, educational efficiency, and most importantly educational effectiveness (yes – people actually learned better!). This was remarkable because it seemed (with good reason) that education really hadn’t changed significantly in thousands of years – and now we had discovered something that was a game-changer. Finally.

So, as you would expect with any positive, disruptive change, eLearning swept the world. I left my faculty position at the university and transitioned from eLearning research to eLearning development. My company at that time, WebCT, grew to serve 4,000 universities in 80 countries.

Before long, the world found itself in a position where almost every modern university and large company had chosen an LMS and was using it to deliver, track and improve some or all of their learning program. As a student at a university, or an employee at a large organization, you might not be aware that you were using an LMS, but if you took any online courses, you almost certainly were.

But Not in the Maritime Industry

When I became involved with the maritime industry in 2007, there was not an LMS in sight. At least not one for the benefit of the vast majority of maritime employees – those who worked at sea. Why did the maritime industry seem to be immune to the positive changes all around it over the preceding 12 years or so?

The answer given to me, one I think we are often too readily willing to accept, was that the maritime industry is, by nature, a slow, cautious and traditional industry. Nothing changes fast, and new ideas are looked at with skepticism.

This seemed unsatisfactory as an answer to me – mostly because the people I was engaged with were anything but slow-moving or inherently adverse to change. On the contrary – these were enthusiastic, passionate and intelligent trainers looking to advance the state of the “maritime training” art. If there was an opportunity to improve training, they were willing to try it.

So if the issue was not one of a reluctance to adapt, then where was eLearning in the maritime industry? The answer was a real surprise to me.

Lack of Tools

Learning management systems, as indicated above, had now been around for over ten years and had reached the point of near ubiquity. Yet they were largely absent from the maritime industry. Why?

Most LMS’s were born the same way WebCT was born. They were created for universities – sometimes (as was the case for WebCT) by university faculty. They were therefore built to address the university teaching model. This meant many things. Most importantly:

  • There was an assumption that all students had internet connectivity (because all university students do have connectivity).
  • There was an assumption that two people taking the same course required the very same knowledge. If two students are both taking Chemistry 101 at the same university – then they are both required to learn exactly the same knowledge.

The problem with this model is that it completely breaks in the maritime industry. First, connectivity is a problem at sea. It ranged from slow and expensive at best, to unreliable and non-existent at worst. So training on the “job site” (on board) is a challenge.

Secondly, unlike the case for two university students, the knowledge required by two maritime workers is almost never the same. While it is true that all trainees studying to become deckhands do require a common set of basic knowledge, that ends the moment they step onto their respective vessels. Each vessel has its own mix of equipment, routines to follow, layout, etc. So while a university might offer 20 different chemistry courses, a maritime organization might need to offer hundreds or thousands of different “courses” – one for each unique combination of job, vessel, and possibly even the route of the vessel. Creating and maintaining such a library of courses to address the specific training needs of each member of an organization is not practical.

The eLearning Era in the Maritime Industry

So – it became clear that the lack of an appropriate LMS, not a lack of desire nor a lack of innovative spirit, was the cause for the maritime industry being 15 years behind most of the rest of the world in terms of its adoption of sophisticated eLearning.

Fortunately, there are now solutions available specifically designed to solve the problems identified above. The advent of these solutions is a significant event for the maritime industry – one that cannot be easily overstated. In exactly the same way that the advent of the original LMS was a milestone for higher education and general corporate training, this is a milestone for the maritime industry. Finally we are able to take advantage of the improved access to training and improved training outcomes that nearly every other industry has had access to for 20 years. Having experienced those educational revolutions and the passion and excitement they engendered in educators, I cannot tell you how excited I am to be a part of this new training era in the maritime industry.

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About The Author:

Murray Goldberg is the founder and President of Marine Learning Systems (www.marinels.com), the creator of MarineLMS - the learning management system designed specifically for maritime industry training. Murray began research in eLearning in 1995 as a faculty member of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. He went on to create WebCT, the world’s first commercially successful LMS for higher education; serving 14 million students in 80 countries. Murray has won over a dozen University, National and International awards for teaching excellence and his pioneering contributions to the field of educational technology. Now, in Marine Learning Systems, Murray is hoping to play a part in advancing the art and science of learning in the maritime industry.


Maritime Training: The full library of maritime training articles can be found here.

Blog Notifications: For the latest maritime training articles, visit our company blog here. You can receive notifications of new articles on our company blog by following the blog.

Maritime Mentoring: International Maritime Mentoring Community - Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor