The fourth of five installments on eLearning in the maritime industry–what it is, what are its strengths and what are its limitations. Part 1 of this series introduced eLearning, talking about what it is, and why it is important that anyone involved in maritime training should do their utmost to understand its strengths and limitations. Part 2 of the series discussed what research has shown us about the strengths of eLearning. Part 3 of this series covered some of the practical strengths of eLearning. It is highly recommended that, if you have not read them already, that you follow the links to part 1, part 2 and part 3 before continuing here.
Before moving on to the limitations of eLearning in the final installment of this series, this installment (part 4) covers the second half of the practical strengths of eLearning including:
- Trainee peer and mentorship communities
- The potential for cost reduction (or not!)
- Maintenance and currency of learning materials, and
- Standardization and objectivity.
There is no doubt in my mind that eLearning is an important topic for the maritime industry. All of us involved in maritime education, whatever our views on eLearning, are going to have to come to terms with it. We all have a responsibility to understand it, including its strengths and weaknesses. Only by doing so can we can make intelligent decisions as to when to apply it, when not to apply it, how best to take advantage of its greatest strengths, and how to avoid common eLearning pitfalls.
In this series of articles, I am largely going to focus on the application of eLearning to maritime job training and familiarization, but most of my comments will apply equally to eLearning in maritime certification training. I think it behooves all of us involved in maritime training to understand eLearning. It is my hope that this series of articles will play a small part in facilitating that understanding.
The research on the subject is very compelling. However, there are also a number of positive practical considerations when contemplating eLearning. The previous article covered the following:
- anywhere/anytime learning,
- training reports and metrics
- trainee-centered learning, and
- objective trainee assessments.
This article continues from where the previous one left off.
One of the greatest misconceptions about eLearning is that it is necessarily a solitary experience. On the contrary. In fact, eLearning can provide as much, or even more interaction than classroom-based experiences. As mentioned earlier in this series, trainee communication forums or trainee communities are often a feature of learning management systems. On the surface, the main value is that trainees can ask questions of their trainers or other trainees. This is indeed important, but falls short of describing the true value of creating a space where all trainees can share ideas and hold discussions.