In the previous edition of Training Tips for Ships, we discussed choosing media for learning materials and which materials would lead to the best results. Is it text? Pictures? Videos? Interactive exercises and simulations? Too often it is claimed that interactive media with fancy (and expensive) graphics will produce better learning outcomes. The reality is not so simple. So how do we choose? It’s not hard.

The first question we should ask ourselves is not about choice of media, but rather about learning outcomes. Do we want the trainee to internalize a knowledge or a concept? Or is it skills or reasoning that we hope to impart? These are very different learning goals and different types of media will support some goals better than others. Let’s examine them in a little more detail.
There are many ways to categorize learning objectives, but for our purposes I have divided them into four simple categories:

  1. Assimilation of knowledge. Here we just have some information that the trainee should know. For example – what is the draft of the ship?
  2. Understand a concept. Here we are trying to teach how something works. It goes beyond a list of facts to understand how, for example, a piece of equipment works.
  3. Being able to perform a task. Here we are trying to teach the ability to do something, safely and effectively. Examples might be launching a lifeboat or taking a sounding.
  4. Being able to reason and make decisions. Here, we prepare the trainee to make decisions and perform actions in response to new situations.

Given any training we want to do, we must first decide which of these categories the training fits into. Let’s take the example of putting on a fireproof suit. Which of the above statements applies here? Although it can be argued that teaching this skill requires the achievement of all four learning objectives, they are not weighted equally. In this case:

  • There is a reasonable amount of knowledge to learn – what the components of the fire suit are, where they are stored, how they fit together, etc.
  • There’s quite a bit of conceptual knowledge required – like how the suit protects against heat.
  • The ability to perform the task (put on the suit) is essential, arguably of equal importance to knowing the components of the fire suit.
  • And finally, being able to reason is not a big requirement for putting on a fire suit. This is because there may be issues encountered when donning or using a suit that require some reasoning to resolve, but are unlikely to be the primary desired outcome.

Looking above, it seems that the main learning objectives for donning a fire suit can be safely considered to be “knowledge assimilation” and “task execution”. You can use the same process to get a general idea of ​​the main learning objectives for any skill.

Once we understand these learning outcomes, the task of matching media to outcomes is relatively simple if we understand the strengths and limitations of each. In fact, said a little differently, for each of these learning outcomes there are teaching methods (or pedagogies as it is properly called) that will have strengths or limitations in achieving the desired outcomes, and in In many cases, the choice of media is a direct result of the chosen pedagogy.

But for our purposes, we’ll simplify a bit and look at how media choices map to desired learning outcomes. This will be the subject of the next edition of Training Tips for Ships.

Until then, thank you for reading and surfing safely!