Introduction & Scope
A web meet through video conferencing was convened by Maritime Trainers Guild under the Chairmanship of the Founder & President of the MTG, Capt. Prabhat Nigam and the guidance of a select group of MTG – Out of Box Thinkers & Mentors.
The web meet was conducted on the Zoom platform hosted by HIMT team. The online meet had a whopping registration of 1169 persons and about 700 persons participated, which included representatives of FOSMA, MASSA, INSA, ICCSA, IMEI, CMMI, IMF, MUI, NUSI, members of MTG, representatives from various MTIs, Officers from MMD and DG Shipping, stake holders from other RPSL Manning companies and above all at least 100 seafarers undergoing maritime courses across the country. More than 300 people viewed the same on the you-tube channel which was telecasted live by Marexmedia. (current number on You tube has exceeded 2500 views)
The web meet was inaugurated by the Director General of Shipping – Shri. Amitabh Kumar, IRS.
The principal aim of the seminar “COVID 19: A Challenge and Opportunity for METAC” was to discuss, explore and demonstrate ‘Best Training Practises’(BTP) & New Tools in Learning, which this pandemic has brought to light sooner than expected. MTG is poised to deliberate how to imbibe these BTP’s and Learning Tools for the development of our METAC.
Synopsis of Deliberations
Shri Amitabh Kumar – Director General of Shipping, highlighted the use of technology and its relevance in the current times. He exhorted that India being a Maritime supply Nation, needs to continue the Maritime Training by embracing the new technological developments during the times of lock down.
He proposed that the theory classes for certain courses can be conducted online
and the practical / demonstration could be conducted with the help of online
simulation modules. Other tasks which require physical attendance or handling of
equipment can be undertaken at the MTIs, maintaining social distancing and observing personnel hygiene. He highlighted the need for a detailed SOP to ensure safe operational procedures at the MTIs for the use of training equipment, computers, labs, machinery etc during the practical training.
His inaugural address was followed by the presentation of Capt. Prabhat Nigam – Founder & President of MTG along with Capt. Gaurav Chhabra – Domain expert ARI simulations.
Capt. Prabhat Nigam, started with an insight into the evolution of learning from chalk n talk to Virtual reality. The effectiveness of digital training and the process involved in developing a LMS in the digital format were discussed. The components of the e- learning solutions were explained, and an analytical comparison of synchronous and asynchronous learning formats were unfolded.
Concept of blended learning and the quality of e-learning by PILE formula (Personalised, Interactive, Learner Centred, Engaging content) was introduced. The cognitive evolution of the human brain to retain digital information and analyse it and to store and to interpret and use it most effectively in real time situation was discussed.
Further emphasis was made on the need for e-learning during this pandemic.
Capt Gaurav Chabbra – Domain expert ARI Simulations, spoke on the various available solutions for conducting interactive online simulation-based training and its effectiveness in enhancing the skills of the candidates. The clear distinction between showing a video or animation and the use of Simulation technologies that are not only provide real time engagement and interactivity for the candidates but also provide for continuous and real time tracking/ logging of every action taken by the student. With the use of AI, AMP & ML tools a compliant and personalized experience can be delivered. The access to cloud-based frameworks allows for access of simulation-based modules anytime anywhere and on any device. These solutions are being widely used in maritime training establishments and the industry in general globally.
An interesting demonstration of how a virtual navigational exercise and Tank entry for inspection can be carried out online was streamed live to all attendees. He further stressed that these solutions can be easily deployed to carry out practical training tasks for various STCW competencies as an integral part of an online training methodology. He was ably assisted by his colleague Capt. Gaurav Bajaj.
This presentation was followed by Prof Atul Nigam – IITK, an eminent speaker who has more than two decades of experience in online training.
Prof Atul Nigam, shared his interesting experience as to why online learning which has been implemented in top universities in the world, including IITs in India, is struggling to achieve its objectives and the research behind and the solutions in hand.
Discussed how AI can be made as an effective tool in improving the knowledge and skills of the Individuals. He emphasised that making classes interactive, spaced repetition of classes and prioritizing of weak areas of the trainees are the key to effective learning.
A Panel Discussion held with eminent personalities of the Shipping Industry anchored by Capt. Sandeep Kalia – Chairman OYE Group .
Dr. ( Mrs) Malini Shankar – Former DG Shipping, Chairperson National Shipping Board, Mr. Ashish Wankhede – DDG Training , Capt M.M Saggi– Former Nautical Advisor to Govt of India, Capt Sanjay Prasher – Founder & Managing Director of V R Maritime , Dr. Surender Kumar – Vice President of MTG, Dr. ( Capt) Ashutosh Apandkar –Capt Supt- T.S Rahaman & Mr. Sanjeev. S. Vakil – CEO HIMT shared their views.
Extract from Panel Discussion
- The design and content of the e-learning topics to be made interesting, content reoriented and made more interactive
- E- learning could bring in a larger pool of qualified faculties. MTIs can engage expert faculties from all over the Country and from abroad.
- Web fatigue of the Trainers and the Trainees due to prolonged use of the computers / laptops to be taken into consideration
- Training of faculties to adapt and be adept in delivering lectures on the e-learning platform to be considered.
- E-learning platform available on DGS website to be made use for the benefit of the candidates
- Clear guidelines to be established for approval of Institutes conducting online courses.
- Whereas theory portion of the training can be imparted online – Some of the practical tasks can be conducted online through use of simulation modules. Classes conducted at the MTIs, should be with proper social distancing and adopting proper safety measures.
- The need to develop asynchronous learning, digital library, online materials to enable students to study at their convenience.
- Challenges in the access to online training for the candidates from remote villages
- Need for a policy document to be drafted so that quality is not compromised and proper monitoring of attendance, delivery of lectures, assessment and control of certification is carried out.
- Need to modify CIP circular to consider IT infrastructure and capability of the Institutes to deliver online training.
- The provisions under STCW conventions that, Administration can issue dispensation for 6 months in the event of any unforeseen delay in imparting training and issue of certificates was discussed.
- Obligation of the Administration to convey decisions and the details of alternate training methodologies adopted to the International Maritime Organisation.
- Proprietary issues related to the intellectual property, web security and protection of faculties interest to be considered.
Mr. Ashish Wankhede, shared that about 6200 seafarers have enrolled for e-learning and about 2000 candidates have already completed their assessment on the DGS e-learning platform. 40 MTIs and 700 faculties have given their readiness to conduct online courses. Continuously MTI’s are sending confirmations for digital readiness and final data analysis will be done shortly.
Capt. Sanjay Prashar, stated that pre Sea Training should also be addressed through Virtual class. Whereas, GP rating must extend , no e-learning please as first we need to ensure that they have the capability and facility to learn through digital mode.
Oral examination for various competencies can be conducted through SKYPE or similar technology. MTG should develop the trial system.
For VICT, train the trainer course he suggested to remove some items and add how to Impart e-learning and conduct virtual classroom. VICT should now be made an online course.
Mr. Sanjeev Vakil appreciated DGS proactive steps taken in issuing guidelines for conducting maritime courses using virtual classes/ live video sessions. He also appreciated the issuance of DGS order 2 of 2020 wherein DGS was the first to initiate the suspension of courses at all the institutes. This had helped students & faculty of all the institutes to reach back home safely. He further opined that DGS circular 17 of 2020 – Exit exams need not be introduced at this juncture as the Training circular 13 of 2020 already has e-learning modules and assessment, so there is no point of doubling the e- assessment for the seafarers if the classes are on E-learning mode . He suggested to implement the exit exams only after the institutes re-open.
DGS circular 18 of 2020- getting an onboard training berth issue exists for over a decade and now at this critical juncture when institutes are bleeding, this component not to be thrusted on the institutes. Shipping companies, RPSL and Institutes need to be brought under one umbrella and DGS could facilitate the process as India stands a good chance to capture the Global market. Virtual Classes could be conducted 24 x7 instead of limiting to day light hours, so faculty need to be allowed to take additional assignments like group discussion etc in addition to the regular class hours.
Dr Surender Kumar, the current vice president of MTG, shared his views on the background and the use of technology in the modern-day blended learning as applicable to maritime training. He took the audience down the memory lane on how the technology evolved and ushered into the era we are in, utilising the cutting technology and tools to make blended learning an acceptable tool for the maritime training.
Dr (Capt) Ashutosh Apandkar emphasised the importance of a new pedagogy skill, which has to emerge as Digital pedagogy. Maritime education is undergoing a tectonic shift right now. At least for two decades now, Maritime enthusiasts have been predicting that technology will become the biggest intermediary of teaching–learning processes.
Post COVID-19 era, offline or conventional education models will not become obsolete. They will survive. However, blended learning (a combination of classroom and online modes) will be the norm. Institutions and teachers will blend the two judiciously according to the context and the content.
SUGGESTIONS & OUTCOMES
- Maritime Trainers Guild volunteers to take the lead role with respect to providing guidance regarding the online training and act as nodal co-ordinating agency under the guidance of DG Shipping. Effective implementation of principles of facilitation, mentoring and guided self-learning to be encouraged rather than only delivering lectures.
- Faculty need to undergo an orientation course so as to familiarise with the online teaching methodologies and effective online delivery of lectures in the conduct of Virtual Class. It is of paramount importance to develop the right attitude and skills amongst faculty, and students to ensure training remains effective. MTG volunteers to develop this familiarisation program.
- The approval for the strength, frequency of the courses and the qualification of faculties shall be the same as given in the DGS Guidelines. Teaching hours of the faculty can be relaxed from the existing 18 hrs per week to 24 hours a week, as the faculties exhaustion and travel time from and to the Institute is entirely eliminated.
- The duration of online theory lectures in a Virtual Class scenario can be kept to a maximum of 1 hour with the break of 10 minutes to avoid screen/web fatigue and be limited to a maximum of 4 hours in a day.
- The total duration of Practical sessions / demo / workshop shall be carried out at the MTIs at actuals as per STCW / IMO model courses, but in small batches so as to maintain social distancing norms.
- In order to effectively compliment the shore based training, onboard hands on training should be encouraged and implemented through Ship owners and managers in a formal structured way.
- All MTIs till date contributed to the development of the seafaring profession and have put efforts and created huge infrastructure to fulfil the norms of the DGS. Consideration to be given to MTIs and faculties to adapt to the new system of online education and support and guidance to be given to the MTIs to help them manage their resources and financial commitments. An abrupt change and adaptation to the new system may leave many MTIs crippled and may lead to destruction of the aspirations and infrastructure created. A soft landing may be devised by DGS to ensure, that the transition is smooth and does not hurt the sentiments / financial viability of the MTIs.
- Sufficient/ reasonable time to be given to MTIs to adapt to the new system. Present circulars promulgated by DGS expect compliance within few days / week, which is too short, especially during this lock down period, where communication breakdown and difficulty in co-ordination with the faculties / staffs / students located in various locations is natural.