Learning anytime and anywhere

Capt. K N Deboo, Director and Principal, Anglo-Eastern Maritime Training Centre; Rizwan Soomar, CEO and MD, Indian subcontinent, DP World, Vivek Kele, Director, Team Global Logistics; Dr Malini Shankar, IAS, Director General of Shipping; Sanjay Tiwari, CEO, 21CC

Classroom learning doesn’t appeal any more to the millennium generation that wants to take its lessons on the go to get to the next level. On the Golden Jubilee celebrations of NMIS, a panel comprising of Guru’s from the maritime fraternity deciphered how learning for this new generation can be made more focused

There are three distinct developments which are happening in shipping today. Cargo movement which was earlier port-to-port is now moving to door-todoor. Shipping is no more shipping in its traditional sense, but is becoming more of logistics. This means that skill sets for handling cargo are required not only at the port locations but also at the hinterland locations. The mode of transport is changing from single mode (sea) to multimodal, which brings in different conventions, liabilities, laws and skillsets. Another development happening is on the technology side. World is fast moving and internet has taken over the day-to-day life and the smartphones have changed the lives further. Now we have new generation technology in terms of networking (5G) that will revolutionise the way we communicate and interact with each other. The third development that is happening is people coming into your workforce are the millennian’s and they have a very distinct character in terms of the way they want to move, learn and interact. These three major developments will affect drastically in times to come the way we are going to do our business. So as business leaders how do we survive by ensuring availability of skilled and well-trained manpower.

Vivek Kele, Director, Team Global: What in your opinion are the changes in learning principles and the styles of the new generation and how to serve the learning needs of this new generation? Has e-learning impacted commercial shipping in past 5 years and what do you predict will happen in the next 5-10 years?

Sanjay Tewari, CEO, 21CC: India is witnessing an exploding demand and it is coming from parts of the country such as the north east that we very conveniently ignored for the past 16-17 years. Secondly, we see a huge fragmentation of demand, so what we did in shipping is changing very rapidly. People are consuming exotic fruits such as Avocados and importing specialised products such as insulin coming by air from Denmark. Such is the fragmentation and specialisation of demand. As logistics professionals we have huge role to play in catering to this demand. It is no longer about how do I load a container and how do I pull it out of a vessel, but it is more about inside the container and how do I cater to the qualities that are inside it? People need to be very effective and should be taught how to handle these intricacies. The third thing I call as democratisation of demand. The current generation is ready to learn where and when it is needed to get to the next level. Learning is no more on desktops and laptops, but it is on mobile devices, so it has to be very engaging and compelling. Learning is going to become very focused, targeted and we cannot survive with generic learning. It has to get into the hands of the people who need it, when and where they need it, because people have already identified their next job by the time they come for learning.

Vivek Kele: What are the main reasons for people to move to devicebased learning?

Dr Malini Shankar, IAS, Director General of Shipping: There are two reasons for people to be more inclined towards e-learning: increasingly students of the maritime institutions come from the coastal areas and interior locations, so their exposure is limited and their training has to be complemented by certain other learnings. The second is, as Mr Tewari pointed out, they are very impatient but they need to progress faster in their career. If a seafarer goes on sea for 3 months comes back and waits for the course to start, then takes a 3 months course and goes back to sea, then his progression is going to be impeded. E-learning enables them to do their course at their convenience. These are the major reasons for promoting e-learning on mobile devices.

Session in progress

Coming to technology, we are all aware of unmanned ships. It is not a question of will it come, but when it comes the seafarer has to be prepared for that. The Directorate has already taken steps to sensitise the maritime training institutions to build up courses and protocols to see how we can carry this forward. If we don’t prepare for our future then we might lose out on the new chunk of jobs. From 2010 to 2018, India provides about 10 per cent of the manpower which comes to about 150,000 seafarers who are active. When we talk of unmanned ships then the seafarers will have to move to back offices and this is where we need to create skillsets to handle ships sitting at the shore.

Vivek Kele: How do you see technology as the driving force and the critical changes that we must make to face the future effectively in logistics organisations and logistics infrastructure organisations?

Rizwan Soomar, CEO and MD, Indian subcontinent, DP World: Skilled manpower is definitely required to meet the expectations of customers and for safety as well, as this is a very asset heavy business and there are chances of things going wrong and safety being compromised. So there needs to be a balance between these two as well. So to get the work done we need individuals with customised skillsets. We need to understand the gaps and compare the skillsets of individuals with the requirements on the job. Specific learnings are to be imparted to individuals for specific situations which has to be focused and timely and time is of the essence here. The second thing is to constantly evolve as an organisation learning is critical. Customers are evolving every day and so are the expectations of stakeholders. Today’s topic of e-learning is very essential to constantly update skillsets on the go.

Vivek Kele: What are the specific steps taken by your institution for e-learning?

Capt. K N Deboo, Director and Principal, Anglo-Eastern Maritime Training Centre: About 18,000 seafarers are produced by Anglo- Eastern Maritime Training Centre out of India. It is a challenge for skilling the seafarers on the new technologies which are changing day-by-day. Even the ships are very specialised with each one having a unique set of equipment, infrastructure, so we felt the need for developing small modules which are relevant at that particular time for spreading it out such that it can reach to all seafarers and hence this aspect of e-learning became very important. As Mr Tewari mentioned about the millennium and we can see it directly in our academy. During the first year our library was stacked with lot of books, but then we realised that the youngsters don’t like reading through the book but they prefer a digital medium. And if it is available on a mobile they can access anytime and anywhere, so we scaled down on our library books and developed more of e-learning books. We now have 200 laptops in our library. So e-learning is going to take over in a big way and classroom teaching will slowly lose its importance. Another advantage of e-learning is that when we try to create a module which needs to be updated frequently, a classroom course once made might take more time to be updated, but the modules can be quickly updated on our e-learning portal. Commercial shipping does not require any physical hands-on skill learning as such and it can be easily delivered over the digital medium.

Vivek Kele: Is it good enough having reading material available on handheld device? What else needs to be done to retain the interest of the readers?

Sanjay Tewari , CEO, 21CC: One of the worst inventions of the 80’s and 90’s has been a programme called PowerPoint wherein you can make about 100-150 slides and carry it in a laptop, but how can a person on the sea access it on a handheld device. Here the challenge is to engage somebody for 5-7 minutes and during that time impart some meaning full knowledge to him and ensure that the person actually remembers it later on. The millennium generation gets distracted very quickly, so it turns out that they decide in 2/10th of a second whether a website is worth viewing or not. Things like gamification are a good way of keeping people engaged as they proceed from one module to another while they score and it also helps to make people come back.

Vivek Kele: Can you share some sound experiences of e-learning with the audience which can be replicated by them?

Dr Malini Shankar, IAS, Director General of Shipping: What is the content that goes into the training modules and who influences the content development is an important aspect. Content development for training over smartphones will be completely different than the content developed for classroom mode of training. Because there is no eye contact and there are methods wherein you start the student on a simple level and keep progressing and the student has to understand that he/she is progressing.