A MARITIME officer is launching the industry’s first instructor-led online learning platform.
Master Mariner-turned college lecturer Angus Ferguson has developed Onboard Maritime as a disruptor to traditional college-based studying for professional qualifications.
He explained: “Until now you have had to go to college or a similar course to study for maritime industry exams.
“This can be expensive for students or employers, not just in terms of course fees but also in terms of time off work and lost earnings as well as accommodation and living costs if there is no course close to where you live.
“But Onboard Maritime allows students to access all the course materials they need online leading up to exams so they can learn wherever and whenever they want.
“Course materials can be downloaded so that you can learn at your own pace and convenience.
“And there are instructor-led virtual classes, but students can also contact an instructor if there are any areas they don’t understand or need extra help with.
“Being at sea for long periods can leave you with time on your hands when you’re not on shift, but downloading a course in advance or when you have internet access means that you can use the time effectively to study for professional exams without having to take any time off work or be stuck to a rigid class timetable.”
More than 5000 members of the merchant navy sit Maritime and Coastguard Agency exams each year. All require study for oral and written exams as well as practical experience.
Angus, from Clarkston, Glasgow, spent 14 years at sea before joining the staff of the Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, now part of the City of Glasgow College. He has also authored textbook Seamanship Notes.
He added: “As a lecturer I worked with some fantastic students who would have been excellent in a role at sea but who struggled completing the academic element due to their location, time or finances.
“A number left the industry having completed 90% of the course but could not commit time and money for travel and accommodation to attend a college.
“My inspiration for Onboard Maritime came from knowing that the industry was losing out on talented individuals facing barriers to their progression.
“These barriers can be where they live, family, caring commitments or unpredictable work patterns. All of these situations mean attending an educational institute for a period of study is impractical.
“But with technology and a strong understanding of how people learn online, Onboard Maritime will help students gain the preparatory knowledge in a location and at a time that suits them.”
Courses include junior and senior officer-level Maritime and Coastguard Agency qualifications such as Officer of the Watch and Chief Mate. Seafarers have to pass oral and written exams at each level and Onboard Maritime has courses for both.
There are also options for individual modules and the ability to ‘try-before-you-buy’ a sample lesson, with prices ranging from £50 for a personal top-up course up to £1190 for a full course.
Angus added: “The feedback we’ve had from the early take-up has been fantastic.
“They’re really impressed with the quality of the courses and love the convenience of being able to learn at their own pace We’ve had people at sea being able to study onboard a ship and instantly be able to put theory into practice which is a major advantage to their studies.”
Onboard Maritime also offers digital learning solutions for corporate businesses. As companies pivot towards offering an online provision, Onboard Maritime provides course design and technical content development to create an engaging and interactive learning experience for employees.
“In recent weeks companies have focussed on their online capabilities,” added Angus.
“Onboard Maritime can provide hosting options for organisations who have an existing learning management system or are looking to establish their own offering.”
Click here to see our available courses: 'Onboard Maritime Courses'