Maritime schools embracing digital tools for learning and training

Maritime schools embracing digital tools for learning and training

Maritime schools are embracing digital tools for learning and training to ensure an uninterrupted educational delivery to isolated students during the ongoing spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Text:Anne Voith, Marketing Manager, Maritime Simulation, Kongsberg Digital

The quickly escalating pandemic forced maritime schools to close and prompted the early release of Kongsberg Digital’s cloud-based simulation and eLearning tools to instructors. K-Sim Connect, our eLearning platform and ecosystem for maritime simulation and training solutions, was soft-launched in 2019. Since then we have been working continuously on developing cloud-based simulation services and eLearning tools, enabling maritime educational institutes to have easy access to simulation utilities and provide self-study exercises to their students.

In February this year, we were testing our eLearning solution with a few pilot customers: but the isolation measures which closed schools and campuses in March forced many schools to move their educational offerings online, so a cloud-based learning platform became increasingly essential.

“When the urgent necessity for online learning tools became apparent a few weeks ago, we acted quickly and made several simulator models and pre-existing exercises available to help schools in this critical situation,” comments Tone-Merete Hansen, Sr. Vice President, Kongsberg Digital. “So far, we have supported most of the maritime schools in Scandinavia, but also an increasing number of schools in other countries. The schools have all rapidly adapted to this new way of teaching and learning, and the feedback we have received from users has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Among the users who have expressed their views for the potential of the new online eLearning tools is Per Harald Saetren, instructor at Aalesund Vocational School in Norway. He explains: “The K-Sim Engine eLearning solution at K-Sim Connect is helping me to continue providing high-quality training in this difficult time. It is intuitive and easy to use: I can simply upload my existing exercises from the instructor system at school to the K-Sim Connect platform, efficiently manage them and make them available for my students. I’m convinced that this solution will also act as a very useful supplement to traditional education when we return to normal schooling.”

Monica Skulstad, an instructor at Hordaland Vocational School in Norway, says: “Right now, I have 24 students running an exercise on how to operate the refrigerators on board a vessel,” she says. “The K-Sim Engine eLearning module has been really helpful. In addition to using it in a scheduled program during school hours, students can also practice on their own wherever and whenever they want. As the students are now in isolation, I’m also using the video communication tool Zoom to let teams of students work together in a simulator exercise. In this way they can cooperate and learn vital skills online. It works fantastically well!”

Students also find the eLearning solution useful. “Thanks to this solution, I can continue to practice and prepare for my exams,” explains Fredrik Rørvik Grimstad, a student in class SKD4 at Aalesund Vocational School. “Simulator exercises are of prime importance when learning to operate all the complex systems in an engine room. Today, there is limited capacity for using the simulators at school, and since repetition is very important for learning, I think that the eLearning solution, giving me the capability to train on routines, repeat them and test what happens if I do something wrong, is really helpful.”

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Kongsberg Digital is currently offering five eLearning modules for education in engine control room operations, thermal power plants and cargo handling. The plan is to roll out more simulator modules in the near future, including modules for education in navigation and the use of radar.

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“It’s encouraging to report that schools are embracing online learning, and our development team is now working extra hours to provide even more support to educational establishments,” concludes Mrs. Hansen. “The current situation has forced educators to adapt the way they teach. Many schools have used it as an opportunity to learn more about new digital tools and how these can be leveraged to increase learning outside of the classroom. This will give them a wider set of tools at their disposal, also after the crisis is over.”