New wave in nautical training

Interactive training equipment
Supplied by:Promethean AV Distribution
TDS House, Lower Philips Road
Blackburn, BB1 5TH
Phone: 01254 676921
Fax: 01254 581574
Weblink: www.prometheanworld.com


Maritime Training works in partnership with Plymouth College to offer a number of nautical training courses to prepare individuals for life in the merchant navy, shipping, or seaport industry.

Educating students up to master mariner level, the Maritime Training centre provides courses ranging from one day up to three years, each requiring instructors to lead sessions that are highly visual in content and cover complex nautical concepts.

Overhead projectors (OHPs) and acetates had traditionally been used to deliver training programmes, but following the introduction of shorter intensive courses, students had to grasp the complex nautical concepts at a more rapid pace. To help them achieve this we knew we had to reassess our training methods, taking into account that visual presentation was a key factor.

Techniques
By being more innovative in our training techniques we also hoped to make the course more attractive to prospective students. Taking a multimedia-led approach seemed to be the way forward, but we felt that to gain the best visual impact, we needed something more advanced than a laptop/projector combination.

Interactive
Around the time we were looking to upgrade our facilities, we became familiar with interactive whiteboards.

The technology enables digital presentations to be made through an interactive whiteboard connected to a PC.

The trainer can then control presentation content at the board, annotate material, or use an electronic flipchart that is supplied as standard with the accompanying board software.

Working with a local audio-visual specialist and having seen the interactive technology in action, it became clear that it could bring tremendous benefit to the learning environment, including keeping students motivated.

We set about installing the Promethean Group-manufactured technology into five of our training rooms, incorporating the whiteboards into an integrated classroom format.

This included specialist desking and audio, as well as a control system that allows any PC in the classroom to be operated by the instructor.

Impact
Using interactive whiteboards to deliver training sessions proved to be particularly valuable as all of our programmes are high in practical content.

Changing to a new medium involved an upfront investment of time, as all the previous OHP material had to be transferred to digital format.

However, with this process now complete, we have a bank of re-usable resources that can be displayed and interacted with using the whiteboards.

As a multimedia tool connected to a PC, the interactive whiteboard has allowed us to display DVDs and animated Powerpoint presentations. The accompanying board software has made a big difference to training methods because we can make digital annotations over pre-prepared lesson material.

This is good for the students because it encourages them to give input into the session that can then be saved as part of the presentation. As a training tool this has proved useful for maintaining momentum in a session because not all students can keep pace with note-taking.

Complicated
For complicated exercises, such as practical radar plotting, we can now display more sophisticated situations and simultaneously provide written comment on the whiteboard. This helps to guide individuals when they undertake the task on their own PCs.

The response of students has shown us that investing in the technology was a positive move. The fact that the interactive whiteboards are so big and clear makes the technology conducive to a learning environment where the students must watch, listen and do.

This is in contrast to using the OHP, which simply did not have sufficiently sophisticated projection clarity to enable the display of detailed diagrams.

For the shorter courses, having the technology has helped us keep to the tight timetable. For these intensive training programmes, students have to reach a competency level with four subjects in a week, which is tough.

Using the interactive whiteboard saves roughly 90 minutes a day because valuable teaching time isn’t wasted by changing transparencies – all the relevant teaching aids can be accessed directly through the board.

Verdict
The interactive whiteboard has made a real impact on training sessions at Maritime Training – not only by speeding up the delivery of material, but by adding a real visual and interactive element.

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