Concerning Web-based e-learning at a Maritime Higher Education

Concerning Web-based e-learning at a Maritime Higher Education
Concerning Web-based e-learning
at a Maritime Higher Education
Institution: Case Study
Sanja Bauk, Roland Radlingera
The purpose of this article is threefold. Firstly, it considers
the real needs which led to the idea of conceiving and
developing new study program supported by web-based
e-learning system (WELS) at the Faculty of Maritime Studies
(University of Montenegro) as maritime higher education and
training institution. In this part of the article the collaborative
projects which enhanced this idea and its implementation
are described briefly, as well. Secondly, the results of the polls
realized among certain number of involved students, teachers,
and experts in related activities, are presented and discussed in
order to identify main features along with pros and cons of the
WELS being here examined. And, thirdly, some empirically based
suggestions when it comes to choose the appropriate software
tools for creating more interesting, engaging, inciting, and thus
of higher quality instructional materials being available through
WELS, are given.
~~ Web-based e-learning system (WELS)
~~ Maritime higher education
~~ Audio, video and screen recording software tools selection
Nowadays, numerous recognized and respectful maritime
educational and/or training institutions and companies offer
e-learning courses, like: Lloyd’s Maritime Academy, Maritime and
Coastguard Agency, MPI Group, USCG Maritime Institute, etc.
Of, course the list is long and should not be limited to the above
given one. Also, there are a considerable number of scholars’
analyses that support the concept of web based e-learning
as additional mode of acquiring/transferring knowledge and
skills, not only in maritime education, but in general (Ng et al.,
2009; Bauk et al., 2012; Buzađija, 2011; Flatcher and Dodds,
2003; Hanzu-Pazaraet al., 2010; Kadioglu, 2008). However, like
in the previous case, the readers should not be limited to these
quotations. What supports additionally using WELS at maritime
higher educational institutions is the document “The Manila
Amendments to the Standards of Training, Certification and
Watch-keeping for Seafarers Convention and Code” (Philippines,
21-25 June 2010), which concerns, among other numerous issues:
<<the introduction of modern training methodology including
distance learning and web-based learning into maritime
education and training>>. This strongly supports the efforts of
conceiving, implementing and developing WELS at maritime
higher educational and/or training institutions.
Faculty of Maritime Studies - Kotor, University of Montenegro, Montenegro
e-mail: [email protected]
a. Academy of New Media & Knowledge Transfer, University of Graz, Austria
Trans. marit. sci. 2013; 02: 115 - 122
The Faculty of Maritime Studies of Kotor (FMS) has long
lasting tradition being founded even in the medieval times,
when captain Marko Martinović had his own nautical school for
Russian feudal lords (in 17th century) in Perast, a little seaside
town near Kotor (today Montenegro). Later on, this nautical
school continues to exist in Kotor, and it still works as FMS,
educating students and seamen for a variety of both ship and
port vacancies. Also, graduated students can find employment
in the agencies and companies which are focused on different
maritime affairs. Although the tradition of nautical and maritime
studies in general is a long-lasting and rich one in Kotor, and
along the whole Montenegrin littoral zone, the awareness of the
existing new and demanding requirements of the actual global
living and working flows is necessary. Above all, this awareness
is unavoidable since the situation in Montenegro, in the sphere
of maritime affairs, is not a flourishing one. Accordingly, the
management of the FMS has recently come up to the idea
of introducing web-based e-learning environment for the
needs of the students, especially seamen among them, and
all other persons being interested in this mode of education
and knowledge transfer. It is to be mentioned in this context
that FMS several years ago, was forced in a way to adapt the
curricula to the Bologna system which recommends, among
other things, presence of the students at almost all classes during
the semester. Thus, if the students are not present, or if they are
usually absent from their classes, there is a risk that they will
not pass the examinations! This is particularly the case with the
students who have to sail, i.e. to work as seamen to earn their
salaries, and to study simultaneously. During the past few years,
there were numerous requirements from their side to the FMS’s
management to organize for them condensed courses several
times a year, or to develop and offer them e-learning educational
modules. Consequently, the FMS’s management decided to meet
their requirements and objective needs, and to develop and
implement an appropriate web-based e-learning study program.
What caused developing e-learning instructional
modules at the Faculty of Maritime Studies (FMS), University of
Montenegro, besides the enthusiasm of a few teachers and their
desire to enrich traditional channels of knowledge transfer, are
three projects briefly presented below.
Project 1: The first one is the Tempus project (2010-2013):
“Enhancing the quality of distance learning at Western Balkan
higher education institutions” (Enhancing the quality of distance
learning at Western Balkan higher education institutions, 2013).
The objectives of this project are: to improve the quality and
relevance of distance education at Western Balkan higher
education institutions and to enable easier inclusion of partner
country institutions into European Higher Education Area.
This implies the specific objectives: to improve, develop and
implement accreditation standards, guidelines and procedures
for quality assurance of distance education study programs
doi: 10.7225/toms.v02.n02.004
according to EU practices at national level in Western Balkan (WB)
beneficiary countries; to establish the framework for improving
distance learning (DL) quality assurance and e-learning
methodology on higher education (HE) institutional level in
WB countries; to provide training for relevant members of HE
educational and public authorities responsible for accreditation
and evaluation of DL programs and trainers involved in DL
from each partner country, etc. The project leader is University
of Kragujevac (Serbia). Owing to this large project, University
of Montenegro Center of Information System “set up” Moodle
(1.94) server, that creates the opportunity for FMS to use its
capacities in preparing and realizing web based educational
activities. Through this project a few teachers and assistants
from FMS also had opportunities to attend short training courses
being dedicated to e-learning several times and to participate in
discussion process along with the experts from EU in this domain.
Project 2: The second is the small project of bilateral
cooperation realized between FMS and the Academy for New
Media and Knowledge Transfer – ANMKT (University of Graz).
This project entitled “Developing an e-learning module at
Faculty of Maritime Studies (Kotor, Montenegro) for the seamen
educational needs” had as its main aim conceiving a new webbased educational program at FMS devoted primarily to the
seamen’s (among the students) needs. However, this module
should be used by all other potential users besides seamen
who are interested in such a kind of acquiring knowledge. The
University of Graz supported the project by bringing in perennial
expert knowledge in novel e-based didactical methods and
techniques. In return developed e-learning methods and tools
were tested on the basis of a concrete case study. Within this
project (2011-2013) experts from ANMKT transferred very useful
practical skills on the use of Moodle Management Learning
System (MLS) in the effective implementation of e-learning to
the teachers and system engineers of FMS throughout several
Project 3: The third important project within this context
is a follow-up of the previously mentioned project of bilateral
cooperation between FMS and ANMKT. This project entitled
“Distant learning implementation at the Faculty of Maritime
Studies, University of Montenegro, as an additional mode of
education” aims at effective implementing and developing
of web-based e-learning at the FMS as an additional mode of
knowledge transfer, devoted again primarily to seamen’s needs.
ANMKT was the partner in conceiving this e-based instructional
module and through this project it would support its effective
implementation. In the mean time, this e-learning module has
been accredited by the Montenegrin National Council for High
Education, and the study program started officially in September,
2012. This e-learning module is still implemented by Moodle
platform, and currently it is available at the FMS web portal The materials for some of
Bauk and Radlinger: Concerning Web-based e-learning at a Maritime Higher Education Institution: Case Study
the planned courses are uploaded at the platform, and they
are currently available to the certain number of teachers and
students who can test it on-line and suggest improvements. In
this second phase of the project, possibilities of enriching on-line
resources by introducing audio/video/screen-capturing records
shall be considered, as well. The possibilities of extending this
e-learning aid toward the mobile-learning one, by the Windows
7 Phone (Pekić, 2011) and some other similar applications for
mobile devices like i-Phones, shall be considered as well. This
project has been approved and it will be realized within the
ongoing two years’ period (2013-2014).
These three projects are in fact perpetrators of
implementing and developing web based e-learning resources
at the FMS as maritime higher education and training (MHET)
Table 1.
The WELS advantages and disadvantages taken into
The possibility of learning from home and working
place (during the breaks)
Reducing the travelling costs and time saving
Easier access to the instructional materials
Possibility of self-knowledge-evaluation through
on-line tests
Ability to communicate via the net with teachers
and other candidates
More effective learning
From the beginning of the WELS project implementation at
FMS several surveys among the students (e-learners) have been
conducted in order to examine in a way how their perceptions
of the advantages and disadvantages of WELS correspond to the
ideas of the creators’ of this course. The total of 110 students at the
postgraduate level have been involved in the survey. Specifically,
the interviewed students were supposed to identify the WELS
advantages and disadvantages according to their visions
among the offered options (Table 1). What is indicative is that
more than 50% of the respondents agreed that the suggested
advantages of WELS: A1, A2, and A3, are indeed benefits of WELS,
as it was predicted by the creators of this system. On the other
hand, among the disadvantages of WELS more than 50% of
respondents identified only the predefined disadvantage D2 as
real disadvantage (Figure 1).
How can the results obtained (Figure 1) be interpreted?
- Most of the surveyed students are still not convinced that
the possibilities of self-controlling learning process, learning
community activities, and more effective learning are the
advantages of the WELS (A5 and A6 are lower than 50%). What
does it imply? – It implies that students should be convinced by
these WELS benefits, i.e. more intensive communication to the
teachers and among the students themselves should be enabled,
as well as more interesting and inciting self-evaluation tests and
educational games, etc. Consequently, the learning outcomes
should be obviously higher.
If we now consider the supposed disadvantages of WELS,
the e-learners do not see them as big problems: on/line testing,
Trans. marit. sci. 2013; 02: 115 - 122
Lack of direct contact with teachers
Inability to put a question, and get the answer
immediately when there is some ambiguity in
knowledge transfer
A non-standard form of learning that requires
strong will, self-discipline, and high level of
Some exams are taken on-line, which is sometimes
stressful due to limited time and present fear if the
technique will/will not function properly.
need for a strong self motivation, and lack of direct contact
to the teachers, otherwise offered through the traditional
classroom teaching/learning. But, what e-learners really need is
undoubtedly more frequent consultations with the teachers, in
accordance with one-to-one principle. This conclusion directly
corresponds to the recognized disadvantage D2. On the other
hand, by achieving this, the WELS will give better results due to
uprising learning effectiveness. Since this is only a preliminary
study, it is to be extended throughout the future research
activities planned by the authors, with the aim of scanning
e-learners’ satisfaction, and concerning the directions toward
increasing the overall effects of WELS-based learning process.
(Analytical Hierarchy Process) method and the author’s previous
research papers (Bauk et al., 2013a; Bauk et al, 2012). This
approach enabled us to rank some WELS features, which have
been in the context of this study identified as important ones
(Table 2). The ranks are determined by the values of normalized
average weight coefficients being previously calculated for each
considered criteria, i.e. WELS feature. Certainly, the readers should
not be limited by them in the sense that the need for further,
more extensive and rigorous research in this area is underlined.
Availability on-line and high quality of
all necessary materials for preparing the
exam in a subject
Stability and speed of the Internet
connection (that is not always the case at
sea and in some ports)
The existence of the tests for selfevaluation of the acquired knowledge
Possibility of regular communication with
teachers via forum, chat and/or e-mail
Possibilities of doing and evaluating tests
and final exam on-line
Conducting regular students’ surveys
Figure 1.
Number of e-learners who opted for the offered WELS
advantages (Table 1).
Figure 2.
Number of e-learners who opted for the offered WELS
disadvantages (Table 1).
In order to obtain as complete as possible a feedback in the
current moment on the realized WELS, besides the surveys among
the students of the specialist studies at the FMS, one survey is
conducted among teachers at the FMS and experts in developing
new IT-supported didactic methods from the ANMKT. The poll
conducted among the teachers and the experts has been based
on the well-known and in literature extensively used Saaty’s AHP
Table 2.
The rank of the analyzed WELS features by AHP
approach on the basis of the survey among experts
(ANMKT) and teachers (FMS).
doi: 10.7225/toms.v02.n02.004
The obtained grades in the analyzed WELS features could
be qualified in the following manner:
The teachers and experts involved in this research assigned
numerically the highest marks, and gave consequently the
greatest importance in the qualitative sense to the availability
on the web of the instructional materials (which implies their
appropriateness and quality);
In the second place they put the stability of Internet
connection, which is understandable since the WELS examined
here is devoted mostly to the seafarers. Namely, it is often not
possible to establish Internet connection on the vast sea, or it
is usually unstable. Another interpretation should be that the
teachers and the experts consider a stable Internet connection
fundamental prerequisite for WELS establishing;
In the third position there is the availability of tests for
students’ (here mostly seafarers’) self-evaluation during the
process of acquiring knowledge that is also a very important
segment of e-learning which indirectly should involve the
existence of smart educational games as well;
Bauk and Radlinger: Concerning Web-based e-learning at a Maritime Higher Education Institution: Case Study
The fourth position is assigned here to the possibilities for
the students to communicate to teachers via forum, chat, e-mail,
etc. which is of course a very important segment of e-learning,
but it is sometimes difficult to achieve this due to the previously
mentioned problems with Internet connection and its stability at
sea (and sometimes in ports). On the other hand, teachers are
usually too busy, and they are practically sometimes physically
unable to devote more time to the communication with students;
At the lowest positions are WELS technical possibilities
of doing exams on-line, and conducting regular on-line (or
classical) surveys among students related to their degree of
satisfaction with offered e-learning services respectively. This is
understandable since the Internet as an open communication
channel is not perfect for testing students on-line. In addition,
even surveys conducted among students are very important.
In comparison with the previously considered components of
e-learning they are for sure slightly less important. However, this
does not mean at all that they should be ignored.
This conducted survey reflects profoundly very subtle
nuances in mutual positions of the analyzed e-learning features,
and it reminds us to associate them to the high degree of
expertise and sensitivity of the responders in this domain (Bauk
et al., 2013a).
Further analysis should be directed toward evaluating
e-learners’ satisfaction with offered WELS and this will be
realized by multi-criteria evaluation technique based on
Saaty’s AHP (Paechter et al., 2010; Shee and Wang, 2008; Wang,
2003). Since the large number of respondents is necessary for
conducting such analysis, the possibility of involving some other
institutions that offer WELS is in consideration. Namely, a large
number of respondents is a kind of guarantee that the survey
will be successful and reliable, i.e. that the largest number of
respondents will be consistent in accordance to the Saay’s AHP
method requirements.
Today, there is quite a large offer of different proprietary
commercial and freeware application software which can be
used for producing (Table 3):
Audio: Audacity, NCH Wave Pod, Adobe Audition, Cubase
Steinberg, Logic Studio, Kristal Audio Engine, etc.;
Video: Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premiere, Avidemux,
Magix Video, Video Spin, AVIedit, etc.; and,
Screen capturing: Adobe Capticate, Capture Fox, Camtasia
Studio, Jing, ActivePresenter, BB Flashback, BB Flashback Express,
ScreenPresso, VirtualDub, etc.
Web can be used as a resource for further search (Best Free
Audio Editing Software, 2013; Best Free Video Editing Software,
Table 3.
List of the software tools for post-production of
e-learning teaching materials.
Legend: A-audio; V-video; S-screen capturing;
C-commercial; F-freeware.
Software / Feature
NCH Wave Pod
Cubase Steinberg
Logic Studio
Kristal Audio Engine
Windows Movie Maker
Magix Video
Adobe Premiere
Video Spin
If we look at the above presented ranking of the WELS
features, it is evident that the availability and quality of the
instructional materials are rated as the most important factors
by teachers and experts in WELS. Undoubtedly, the quality of
the instructional material is one of the key factors for successful
implementation of WELS. Since the appropriate IS/IT solutions
and tools are necessary in their creating, this part of the paper
offers a short overview of some available up-to-date software
tools for creating interesting and engaging instructional WELS
materials, along with the recommendations based mostly on the
authors’ experience which of them is the most appropriate for
certain application.
Trans. marit. sci. 2013; 02: 115 - 122
Adobe Captivate
Camtasia Studio
The list above is not exhaustive as there are many more
software tools on the market, proprietary commercial as well
as freeware and shareware. Of course, there is also difference
concerning the available functions but it is definitely possible
to produce up to professional results with selected freeware
The following recommendations can be done according to
the authors’ experiences:
The open source software Audacity is the most powerful
freeware tool for audio editing. It offers various effects and
analyzing tools for signal processing, e.g. powerful noise reduction
(even adaptive noise reduction) and dynamic processing as well
as equalizing, multi-track editing for sophisticated mixes and
of course supports recording from any microphone or signal
source connected to the computer. Professional commercial
audio editing software mainly aims at professionals like sound
engineers or sound designers. These professional tools provide
further interfaces to audio hardware and various 3rd party plugins for high-end audio editing.
In the field of video editing it is the freeware Lightworks
that offers the most functions and editing tools. Even commercial
movies have been cut and produced with that software; however
it is not especially designed for beginners, so it requires time to
get familiar with the production workflow. A more intuitive way
and, therefore, more appropriate for beginners is the Windows
Movie Maker (last built version is No. 12). It does support most
of the latest video formats and has also built-in effects to make
transitions and/or color effects and animated titles. It also
supports most picture formats so that the producer can combine
still and moving pictures in the project. Background sound or
speech can be added and mixed.
Screen-recording tools have become very popular as it is
very easy to make engaging tutorials or presentations of what
is happening on the monitor. The freeware tools Camstudio,
Jing and AutoScreenrecorder offer the general possibility to
record the screen but do also include restrictions which can be
watermarks, a limited time for recordings or not supported audio
recordings along with the screen recording. Also, the choice of
output formats is limited in freeware tools.
Two market leaders offer a professional tool that combines
the above mentioned types of recording: Adobe Captivate, and
Camtasia Studio. Camtasia Studio lets the user create professional
screen recordings; you can include other media like pictures,
movies or sound. The footage can be arranged in multi-track
layers, with additional zoom or pan effects as well as highlighting
options you can increase the professional look of the production.
Below are given some examples of employing Camtasia Studio
(ver. 7) in teaching students ECDIS simulator basis. Thus, Figures
3, 4, and 5 show some examples of using call-outs and zoom or
pan effects in teaching students ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display
and Information System) basis using Transas NAVI Sailor 4000
demo version simulator (Bauk et al., 2013b).
Figure 3.
Call-outs for route planning and scheduling in graphical mode.
doi: 10.7225/toms.v02.n02.004
Bauk and Radlinger: Concerning Web-based e-learning at a Maritime Higher Education Institution: Case Study
Figure 4.
Call-outs and zoom-n-pan effects for explanation of AIS
target acquisition.
All previously mentioned efforts in the introduction and
development of e-learning resources at the FMS should improve
the overall educational quality standards at MHETs in the
Region. However, the need for greater investment in seafarers’
higher education (HE) in terms of personnel and infrastructure
is indisputable. The networking is also very important, and not
“networking just for the sake of networking”, but a real one is
necessary, based on professional cooperation (on the EU level)
among the MHET institutions through more intensive exchanges
of teachers and students for the sake of mutual enrichment of
knowledge and implementation of joint projects. It is necessary
to establish permanent connections with the maritime industry,
e.g. shipping companies interested in providing practical
training on board ships as well. The national legislation has to
be modernized in the sphere of higher education in terms of
recognition and proper interpretation and implementation of the
STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping)
requirements in terms of a faster deployment of virtual learning
as a supplement to the traditional education and training of the
seafarers. The newest STCW Code amendments concern and
recommend: the introduction of modern training methodology
including distance learning and web-based learning in seafarers’
knowledge acquisition and upgrading. Within this context, sight
should not be lost of the fact that STCW Convention itself calls for
a proper education - as the foundation of successful training and
acquiring competencies (see for more information “The Manila
Amendments” - Chapter II, Section B-II/1, Paragraph 14, 2010). It
is to be expected that at least some of these recommendations
should be shortly considered and accepted by the responsible
HE bodies.
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Figure 5.
Call-outs and zoom-n-pan effects for explanation of
NAVTEX message acquisition.
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