With more companies starting to offer distance learning courses, in issue 75 we ask crew what they think of this type of learning. Does it help them to have the flexibility to learn according to their schedule, or hinder them due to the temptation to put coursework on the backburner? Here we bring you a preview...

Ollie Castle, first officer, M/Y La Familia

I’m in the process of doing an online course. I have found that they’re advertised as an easy and very cost-effective way of achieving the certificate, but in reality, as soon as you start it you quickly realise the workload required and the amount of time needed for researching where to find the information required. Whereas if you go to a school, a lecturer guides you through the course and you’re already well ahead. I think distance learning, unless it’s a short course, is in essence more of a workload and I don’t think that is fairly advertised.

I think unless you’re in a dedicated learning environment, it’s very easy to put the course on the back-burner and not actually complete it, and then all of a sudden you’ve missed a deadline and have to pay another fee to extend the validity of the course.

Simon Brown, chef

I recently completed a food health and safety course online because my hospitality training from Australia was not recognised. It was a very brief online multiple-choice questionnaire from the UK. It was pretty average. I passed it easily (I think an eight-year-old could have done so) but there were some obvious problems. Having the background knowledge I do, it seemed rather complacent. The obvious questions such as, ‘Should you wash your hands before handling food?’ are exactly that – obvious. But things to do with cooling, reheating and storage of food were not so. Firstly, the facilities available on a lot of yachts, except the really big ones, are vastly inadequate for the type of food we are generally expected to prepare. There is no walk-in fridge-freezer, no blast chiller and no cooling racks. So the initial problem is, I did a very basic questionnaire relevant to a land-based commercial kitchen, not a four-square-metre domestic superyacht galley.

"Unless you’re in a dedicated learning environment, it’s very easy to put the course on the back-burner and not actually complete it."
Ollie Castle, first officer, M/Y La Familia

Theresa Manwaring, chief stewardess, M/Y Lady Sara

I have often thought about e-learning in the yachting industry and a few times wished it had been available. I definitely think it has a place – maybe not so much for some departments as for others. For the interior department, especially for those topics where hands-on classroom training is not really needed, it could work. Besides, it is such a technical world now and because our industry requires much travel and complicated work schedules, e-learning may provide an alternative way to take some courses and keep up to date on developments. 

I do think self-study would provide more uniform information to the individual taking the course, as sometimes different teachers at the schools cover topics in such different ways, some emphasising certain information more than others. It seems that info could be easily updated and changed with online courses. 

Find the full article in the Monaco Yacht Show issue of The Crew Report (Issue 75), out mid-September, and available at The Superyacht Owner stand, QE9, at the Monaco Yacht Show.