We started ABYC's online learning program back in 2015 with the focus on offering continuing education beyond just our standards based content. We were reluctant to offer certification training online for several reasons even though we had the necessary tools in place. COVID obviously changed that and we were thankful to have the infrastructure in place to offer the training 100% online including the certification exams which are administered through an online proctor.
While we did not fall under the purview of state or federal regulation limiting our delivery options, ABYC has always felt strongly about the hands-on approach to certification education hence our reluctance to offer it pre-pandemic. We have now been offering virtual training for more than 2 years and we have learned many things throughout the evolution including:
- the learning mechanism is obviously different from in-person but we are still very much in control of delivery and we can consistently offer the materials as well as track attendance and participation.
- we can offer the courses at a pace easier for many learners to digest (instead of 3 or 4 full days of instructor training, online is 3x 90 minute live sessions a week for 2-3 weeks). This is not only better for most learners' subject matter retention, but it means that a learner does not need to take a week off from work to travel to a class.
- we can engage a larger audience (regional and international) instead of only those willing to travel to one of our courses. This is probably the most important element that would translate to boater education... it should be easy for them to learn.
- the live sessions are recorded and available to review. This has been key for many that may not be able to attend all live sessions throughout the duration of the course.
- student-instructor & student-student interactions are still very much an important aspect of learning. Switching to online has not prevented that communication, but it has actually provided more channels for communication and made for more valuable discussions in the virtual setting.
- we can offer additional learning references that may not have been an option when face to face (3rd party multimedia, quality pictures, links for external references, etc.).
Overall the program has been welcomed by the boating industry and it shows in the attendance numbers and passing rates that are both trending upward. We do plan to hold in-person classes but the live online format is here to stay.
ABYC Education Development Manager
Sent: 04-25-2022 03:40 PM
From: Anonymous Member
Subject: Remote live instructor safe boating classes?
This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
Curious whether there is some NASBLA standard for state safe boating courses which poses a problem for live instructor led courses being offered remotely by Zoom or similar video conferencing technology.
Purely passive learning via online slide-show type classes with an online test is a large part of the boater education landscape. And, of course traditional classroom based instruction with a live instructor.
Remote instruction with a live instructor seems like a perfectly reasonable option.
Texas Parks & Wildlife won't permit it. Is there some standards based reason, that I am not aware of?