WMU Hosts 40th Anniversary Conference for Maritime Education and Training Professionals
From 8-10 September, the World Maritime University (WMU) hosted a Conference entitled “Seas of Transition: Setting a Course for the Future”, which brought together for the first time, the International Maritime Lecturers’ Association (IMLA) with all three of its Special Interest Groups: International Conference on Engine Room Simulators (ICERS), International Maritime English Conference (IMEC), and International Navigation Simulator Lecturers’ Conference (INSLC).
Dr Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, opened the conference and delivered the welcoming remarks. She congratulated IMLA on its milestone 40th anniversary with such a timely theme for the conference, particularly as we are living in unprecedented times and in an era of uncertainty about our future. “With a high degree of uncertainty, there is one certainty: new technologies will dramatically change the nature of work across all industries and occupations. Modern technology is fundamentally changing our way of life and work by creating new opportunities and challenges for all of us,” she said. Three main challenges she noted relate to our capacity and ability: to use technology to empower people rather than replace them; to enable progress to serve society rather than disrupt it; and to foster the innovators to respect moral and ethical boundaries rather than cross them.
In his opening remarks, Dr Jin Yongxing, Chairman of IMLA, expressed his appreciation that the conference was able to go ahead this year after being cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For its 40th anniversary, IMLA returned to WMU in Malmö, where it was founded. “The year 2020 will not be forgotten by mankind as the pandemic affected all countries and industries,” he said. Noting the central role shipping plays in world trade, he emphasized the need for qualified seafarers saying, “Better shipping needs better seafarers, and better seafarers require better MET instruction.”
The opening Keynote Speaker was Ms Mayte Medina, Chief of the Office of Merchant Mariner Credential for the U.S. Coast Guard and Chair of the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). She noted the appropriateness of the Conference theme, and its relationship to the World Maritime Day theme “Seafarers at the Core of Shipping’s Future”. She focused on the future of training from the international perspective in light of the upcoming review of the STCW Convention that is on the horizon. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed forward modern teaching technologies, and she emphasized that we need to adapt to a mobile population, adapt instructional techniques, and change international regulations and support their implementation, ensuring that training provides cutting edge knowledge and expertise. “Today’s mariners are generalists, and tomorrow’s mariners need to be specialists. Today’s training process and delivery systems need to change to meet tomorrow’s needs. And an international focus on training requires that all stakeholders must participate,” she said.
Day two’s Keynote Speaker was Mr Murray Goldberg, Founder and CEO of Marine Learning Systems. His presentation focused on learning analytics - the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts for the purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs. He said, “Analytics has arrived. We are just at the beginning of it in education and training, and without data we cannot manage or improve outcomes. With data, we can. So we need to start thinking about data and how to collect it. The more data we have, the deeper the history, the more objective and granular it is, the more accurate it is, the better we can frame and optimize performance.”
The Conference brought together over 100 Maritime Education and Training (MET) Professionals from 34 countries for interdisciplinary discussion and exchange of ideas on issues facing MET in the present era of rapid change in the global maritime community, with a view to harnessing the past to navigate the future. Session topics included Lifelong Learning in MET, Maritime Training in Safety and Risk, Quality MET for a Sustainable Future, Effective Communication and MET, Resilience in MET in the face of COVID-19, and Digitalization and MET.
The conference concluded with a virtual handing over of the IMLA and IMEC flags to the 2022 conference hosts, Odessa Maritime Academy in Ukraine, and Admiral Ushakov Maritime State University in Russia, respectively.