Maritime Education: Challenges and Course Corrections during the Pandemic By Dr. Malini Shankar, IAS (Retd.)- Vice Chancellor, Indian Maritime University; Ex Chairperson, NSB, EX DG
The Post Sea positives
courses, when they kick started again, had lesser number of issues. The
students apparently were quite receptive of the online mode of dissemination.
The students, having seen ships, were able to comprehend and have the doubts
cleared swiftly. Self-study discipline, preference to spending more time at
home etc., could be the reasons for post-sea cohorts preferring the online
mode. Significantly, the Faculty also were less stressful for post-sea deliveries.
The downside was with the online simulator training where difficulties were
encountered in monitoring terminals effectively.
From hostel shut down till the students
reached home, monitoring was done by all available means. Frequent
enquiries on health were made not only with the students but also with many
parents. Over the period, the Faculty interacted with the students on tips
of doing Yoga and checks on students’ rooms and belongings were done and
students were advised. Document deliveries were made good by courier where and
when it became possible.
It needs a good mention that during the lockdown, placement exercises
continued. IMU Campuses conducted mock interviews, webinars on placements and
facilitated the Shipping Companies to conduct online tests and selections.
Updates on the virus were shared during the online contact periods as
well as on the website. Students were urged to download and use Aarogya Setu
app. Webinars on maritime topics (e.g., Shipyard practices; Shipping Logistics
etc.) were organised or routed to the students and the Faculty. Fee payment
deferments were done by few MTIs.
Way forward from what we learnt so far
1.More expressive and demonstrative learning modules can be developed
using virtual reality, augmented reality etc. These may complement the practical training but cannot replace it.
2.A stronger and wider network system needs to be developed.
3.More Virtual laboratories for
performing experiments, virtual
workshops for basic skills (e.g., welding simulator) and virtual ships and equipment for walk
through and work can be developed.
4.Creative Assessment modules can be developed to assess cognitive and psychomotor domains.
5.Rubrics for assessing
practical abilities can be drawn based on demonstrative actions.
6.Learning management Systems (LMS) architecture facilitating content development, uploading, assessments,
two-way communication ease, administrative functions (track attendance, marks
etc.), hosting question banks etc. are needed. We are already sighting many LMSs
(time tested and tailored to maritime training) and will see more in times to
7.A Crisis Management Plan can be
developed, which can be put on rail when such situations occur.
In no way can
these efforts become a ‘silver bullet’ resolution package, especially
considering the hands-on training which require physical engagements of both
the trainer and the student. In fact, many issues such as examinations, new
entry processes etc., remain to be resolved to a good finish. But these efforts
have given the impetus and confidence as we forge ahead.
For MTIs, given the unique requirement for a ship berth (for training),
placing the student who has completed the training on board, will be the
biggest challenge. While we surmount the challenges, maritime training fraternity
might well become a paradigm for the tenacity of the human spirit that may
On the note of continued efforts and action, Jonathan Winters, the
comedian said, ‘If the ship does not come in, swim out to it.’ Well, we are all
doing just that and reach the ship, we will. Lastly but importantly my
gratitude to Dr Rajoo Balaji-Director IMU Chennai Campus in providing the input
for this article.