Coronavirus infections worldwide have accelerated the uptake of remote learning and cloud-based teaching resources in the shipping industry
Within a year, maritime training has been transformed through enforced change as the Covid-19 pandemic has meant seafarers are unable to develop their competence and expertise in onshore training academies due to travel restrictions.
Instead, e-learning resources have become increasingly available and simulator training has transitioned to the cloud. A next stage has begun with simulation technology providers partnering with e-learning resource suppliers – Wärtsilä Voyage started collaborating with Ocean Technologies Group (OTG) in February to provide simulator and remote training combined. They will merge their digital technologies to provide one platform of maritime learning resources for shipping companies, maritime training providers, manning agencies and seafarers.
It has been a year since OTG formed through a merger of training resource providers and two months since it launched its Ocean Learning Platform. OTG group creative director Raal Harris says combining resources opens an extended library and repository of knowledge to the shipping community.
“We have more blended formats, meaning more choice for customers and a greater variety from which to choose to meet the specific needs of the learning cohort,” he tells Riviera Maritime Media.
“We have also made it easier to open the platform to third-party content that our customers value,” he says. “As well as type-specific and original equipment manufacturer training, we recognise companies want to personalise their training experience with company-specific material on their own culture and procedures.”
OTG has integrated tools for companies to quickly develop and deploy their own material. “All of which will lead to a wider and more diverse knowledge pool from which to draw,” says Mr Harris. OTG has also introduced immersive simulations through its gamification initiatives.
“Our new breed of ‘serious games’ provides learners the ability to apply their knowledge to challenging scenarios. Using interactive video and immersive role-playing, game-like simulations on their mobile devices,” he explains.
“These go far beyond the standard click to proceed scenarios and improve comprehension of specific topics such as lookout and collision avoidance. This focus on simulations and opening our platform was strengthened even further by our collaboration with Wärtsilä Voyage. This is a game-changer on many levels.”
Comprehensive learning pathways can now be designed and delivered seamlessly across systems and vendors, combining on-demand digital training and assessment, virtual and simulation events via cloud-based solutions, and in-person learning experiences at maritime training centres or aboard ship.
“We envisage a maritime learning ecosystem in which the learner and those managing their learning can enjoy a frictionless skills development and assessment experience,” says Mr Harris. “This breaking down of the barriers between learning conducted on board and ashore is also a major objective of our new integrated virtual classroom.”
This enables the delivery of instructor-led training experiences to a global audience.
“Lessons can be brought to life via screen sharing, video streaming, virtual whiteboards and can be further enriched with resources from our Ocean Learning Library,” says Mr Harris.
“Given the current climate, getting crews to training centres is increasingly challenging. The virtual classroom provides a connection between colleagues collaborating from multiple locations on shore and even connecting with those on the ship, enabling virtual briefings and a safe handover environment as well as traditional learning activities.”
OTG has developed better communications and alignment between seagoing and shore-based teams. It has disseminated key information into fleet circulars and bulletins and introduced seafarer surveys. “Pulse surveys both record and archive data to provide longer-term trend insights,” says Mr Harris.
“These advances all contribute to a richer data picture than ever before, and our customers are increasingly interested in how we can help provide insight and oversight of the full training record and competencies across their organisation,” he continues.
“We believe there are huge opportunities for both the company and the individual crew member to benefit from such analysis in the pursuit of safer, happier and more productive ships.”
Wärtsilä Voyage and OTG’s collaboration will initially make cloud simulation services and training catalogues available through OTG’s platform to a combined customer pool of more than 3,000 shipping companies and training centres. Over a million seafarers will be able to access Wärtsilä training, assessment, and certification on an on-demand basis.
Kongsberg Digital has also introduced remote simulation to provide resources to travel-constrained seafarers. It secured approval from The Nautical Institute (NI) in February for its dynamic positioning (DP) induction courses. These were developed to support training centres worldwide during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns to train crew on DP.
Kongsberg has ramped up delivery of cloud-based e-learning and remote training to support education institutes meeting the challenges imposed by travel restrictions. A remote DP simulation application was the latest addition to its cloud-based simulation training.
It enables instructors to continue providing their students with mandatory DP simulation-based education through remote access to Kongsberg K-Sim DP technology.
NI has reviewed and approved Kongsberg’s cloud-based DP simulators, as equivalent to the NI Class C DP simulators required for these induction courses.
Kongsberg’s cloud-based, high-fidelity simulators can be accessed via the K-Sim Connect portal, enabling distance learning and permitting students to continue to take courses and acquire basic skills outside training centres.
Kongsberg Digital executive vice president for digital ocean Andreas Jagtøyen says remote simulation technologies are helping students to attain DP skills.
“I strongly believe new cloud-based simulation solutions represent the future of maritime training and will continue to act as cost-effective teaching aids when Covid-19 has been consigned to history,” he says.
In January, Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific adopted Kongsberg’s K-Sim eLearning solution and commissioned a K-Sim Safety fire-fighting simulator at its facilities in the Philippines. It is using K-Sim Engine eLearning to deliver cloud-based tuition to its student engineers.
Also in the Philippines, Thome Group invested in a new full-mission navigation bridge simulator. Kongsberg Digital supplied its latest K-Sim navigation simulator with 320° of visualisation, enabling seafarers to practice their navigation and ship handling skills in a safe environment.
Digital training libraries unveiled
AqualisBraemar LOC Group has introduced a digital service to enhance the safety of marine operations within ports and harbours with the development of a digital training library for port-based ship pilots.
This library will be used to train the next generation of pilots using scenario-based experiences. Its creators also say it will reduce collision and grounding risks with 360° aerial views for pilot operations using drone technology, improving knowledge of restricted manoeuvring areas by providing better situational awareness, and demonstrating safe port operations and management practices.
BM Bergmann Marine has introduced its first e-learning course for introducing port collaborative decision making (PortCDM), call synchronisation and optimisation. This e-learning course is available through Safebridge’s marketplace.
In Canada, Virtual Marine Technology Inc has introduced a new training division to provide customised curriculum and resources for remote learning, providing simulation training, bespoke courses and modules over the Quest technology platform.
Witherbys introduced new software enabling seafarers to access its content in January. Witherby Connect allows mariners to access all major industry publications and guidance through e-reader software.
Stream Marine Training has gained ISO 9001 quality management system certification after a detailed audit conducted by DNV. FarSounder has released online end-user training for its Argos echosounders with video courses covering technology, system operations, interpretation of the sonar data, and system maintenance.
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