Videotel is widely known for being the world’s first and most established maritime e-learning provider producing award winning onboard and shoreside training content for over 45 years, but there has been something of a quiet revolution taking place over the last few years that indicates it has a more illustrious future ahead of it
The shipping industry has been through a period of accelerated change and technology has moved to the forefront, transforming the way we work, access information and develop skills. The proliferation of smart phones and user centred media-rich applications has changed audience expectations of software and content delivery.
No wonder then that learning providers have had to up their game to keep pace.
Videotel has met this challenge head on by completely re-engineering its software from scratch and re-engineering the user interface and entire way of processing and storing training events.
The Videotel Performance Manager suite of applications provides online learning management, competency management and online training delivery. There is nothing new in that per se, but as the old song goes, ‘it’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it’.
“No one expects to have to read a manual anymore” said Videotel’s new managing director Raal Harris, “The interface has to do the heavy lifting for you so you know instinctively how to access the information you need.” Good applications don’t just need to work, they also need to delight the user.
“We spent a lot of effort across our systems to make them dynamic, responsive and where possible fun” he continued. “That means really challenging your designers and doing huge amounts of user testing with your target audience to make sure your assumptions stand up.”
This philosophy can be seen in the new generation of learning content to responsive HTML5 that resizes beautifully whatever the device and includes an increasing number of impressive interactive features and gamification devices.
“We really believe that playful interaction enhances learning, and as we had to completely remake our training library into a new non-Flash format, it was the ideal opportunity to overhaul the way we design learning and to set us on a path that was fit for the new mobile-centred world,” he said.
“The driver may have been a simple one, to switch to a mobile-friendly technology, but the switch to support multi-device learning has required a complete overhaul of the way we design and deliver learning. Touch control responsive layouts, the way in which we design activities and describe events has all needed to be re-evaluated.”
Having come through the content side of the business, Mr Harris has always championed using technology to improve the learning experience and nowhere is this more apparent than in Videotel’s steps in virtual reality, which has been strengthened by its recent sale to Oakley Capital Investments Ltd, a company with a successful track record of investing in the maritime and education sectors.
“It’s the new frontier,” he said. “The moment I tried it I knew we had to explore what it could do for maritime training. We’ve invested heavily in research and development and have ensured a VR space in our new London office and our Singapore office to enable us to share VR with our community.”
With new technology, a new leadership team, new owners and new premises, the future for Videotel looks very bright indeed.