Blended learning - a winning combination

Extending onsite simulator training with cloud-based simulations, available anywhere and anytime, will give maritime students the best of both worlds as normality returns.

  • Text:Tone-Merete Hansen, Vice President Sales & Business Transformation, Maritime Simulation, Kongsberg Digital

With the gradual relaxation of lockdown regulations across the word, it now feels reasonable to expect at least a partial return to life as it was before the pandemic. This gives us an opportunity to assess some of the initiatives and workarounds which carried everyone through a uniquely distressing time. No-one disputes the need for physical institutes, but there’s no doubt that digital technology has been of tremendous value in enabling business, education and social interaction over the past 18 months. As normality returns, the potential and flexibility shown by these digital solutions is giving the concept of hybrid or blended learning practices enormous traction.

VOLUME TRAINING

Blended learning is often defined as “the integrated combination of traditional learning with web-based online approaches.” The benefits of these programs are many, especially when it comes to volume training, which is key to promoting skills and attitudes in maritime operations.

While the value and importance of face-to-face interactions with tutors and fellow pupils cannot be underestimated, the benefits of reinforcing classroom-based lessons with online training, accessible anywhere and anytime, speak for themselves. Students being able to prepare for, undertake and repeat exercises on their own computers and at their own pace can make an enormous difference in achieving learning outcomes.

SECOND NATURE

Blended learning in maritime training is a completely logical extension of an ongoing process; namely how digital technology, and the innumerable operations and transactions enabled by digitalization, have gradually become part of our living and working environment.

For most students, using digital devices is already second nature, so making these tools more integral to their learning experience uses that familiarity to help make training more approachable and tailored to their individual needs. This is a principle which has underpinned the design and development of KDI’s cloud-based simulator solutions from day one.

SUPPORTING TECHNOLOGY AND STANDARDS

Committed to providing cutting-edge simulation technology, Kongsberg Digital launched its digital K-Sim Connect platform in 2019. Here, we continuously roll out new cloud-based modules both for stand-alone and hybrid training programs. The modules are subscription-based, making them ideal for changing training needs and course programs as training centers can select the ship or engine models, sailing areas etc. that best suit their curriculums.

Most recently, KDI launched its K-Sim Planning Station cloud solution. Available online, it integrates readily with onsite K-Sim Navigation simulators, making it an ideal and flexible tool for blended learning as students can use the cloud solution for planning a voyage before engaging in navigation simulator training at the school or training center.

The capability to support traditional classroom-based training also applies to KDI’s other cloud simulation solutions. In another noteworthy recent development, K-Sim Navigation, K-Sim Engine and K-Sim Cargo have become the first cloud-based simulators to be awarded the new DNV Class D certification. This verifies that the solutions possess the necessary functionality and satisfy the compliance criteria for remote learning programs.

THE WAY FORWARD

The goal now for instructors will be to work with the new convention of blended learning to devise timetables and approaches which balance course requirements with institutional input and students’ needs. A distinct advantage of KDI’s cloud-based simulators is that instructors can easily draw from a library of models and exercise areas to assemble, distribute and grade their own bespoke exercises, which can be shared or collaborated upon with peers in the K-Sim Connect online community.

Students themselves can of course network less formally on their own devices over and above their classroom time, discussing ideas and training experiences back and forth – a useful adjunct to blended learning which will help to consolidate their new knowledge.

Training is one of many areas in which the value of digital solutions has been made entirely clear in recent months. Blended learning is the right outcome – taking the best from both new and traditional approaches to ensure that students have the right tools for effective, targeted education in the modern world.