The RNLI is progressing with its plans to build a learning resources centre (LRC), which will support both site and distance learning at its new purpose-built residential training centre in Poole.
It will be implementing a library/learning resources centre software management system in 2005, and its team of technical authors is producing learning material, as well as converting existing matter from print to CD and PDF format.
“The LRC will become pivotal to RNLI training and development activities and provide a stimulating learning centre where information can be accessed and specialist advice sought,” said Nicky Swainson, learning resources manager, who works within the training department.
“Eventually, a range of electronic learning resources will be provided to allow research and online literature searching to compliment printed resources.”
The RNLI is also exploring the possibility of a virtual learning environment (VLE), and is sharing experiences of VLEs with local academic institutions and the US Coastguard, with which it has an exchange programme.
The Lifeboat College was opened last July and it includes a survival centre with a 25-metre wave tank, enabling crews to practise capsize drills in inshore lifeboats in realistic controlled conditions.
Less than 10 per cent of the RNLI lifeboat crew volunteers have a maritime background and this, together with other factors such as mandatory health and safety requirements, EU legislation, new technology and the constant search for more effective methods of life-saving at sea, saw its training requirement increase by 72 per cent in 2003.