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 its 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.

This is the first installment (of 5) in a series of articles where I take a step back and talk more deeply about what eLearning is, and what its strengths and limitations are in the maritime training environment. I am largely going to focus on its application to 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. This first article presents a basic introduction to eLearning.

You May Think You Understand eLearning – But Do You?

Education in all industries world-wide has been going through a significant transformation toward on-line learning over the last 15 years. It started in higher education (universities and colleges) and has since spread to corporate education in most industries. It is now a staple of most teaching and training environments.

Too often eLearning is dismissed by people who do not understand it (or have seen it poorly applied) as a cheap and inferior alternative to classroom-based or on-board learning. This was a common misconception in the mid 1990’s when eLearning was new to the training industry. Since then, eLearning has matured and improved at the same blistering pace as other technologies. Now we have reached the point where the world’s teaching and training industries understand eLearning and have employed it wherever its strengths can be used to advantage. Experience has taught us that both its costs and its effectiveness cannot be described using single-dimensional statements. It can save costs, but it is not always cheaper. It can be more effective or less effective depending on the subject matter and the attributes of the learner.

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About The Author:

Murray Goldberg is the founder and President of Marine Learning Systems (, the creator of MarineLMS – the first learning management system 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. Now, in Marine Learning systems, Murray is hoping to play a part in advancing the art and science of learning in the maritime industry.