DISCOVER Magazine #7

Upskill online in your downtime offshore

Published in category: Innovation

Learning whenever, wherever with new online platform

The beauty of modular online learning is that you don’t need to be in a certain place at a certain time to get on with your studies. This flexibility is something Damen Shipyards Group has wanted to take full advantage of for a long time. Access to information, advice and training regardless of location allows clients to benefit from Damen service provision round the clock and around the globe – and can be immensely rewarding.

When you purchase a Damen vessel, you don’t just get a boat. The Damen service package extends into guarantees, maintenance and training – exactly what you need to ensure your vessel performs to your expectations. The training, tailored specifically to the needs of each customer, is delivered through face to face sessions and supplementary materials, at a Damen shipyard or on client premises. Damen delivers a few hundred such training weeks a year to familiarise customers with their new vessels.

This familiarisation covers essential knowledge and skills – a list of up to 50 topics covering every technical system on board – and is usually conducted in group sessions. However, groups are frequently uneven in their base knowledge, and the learning pace can be too fast for some while it’s too slow for others. Damen’s new e-learning platform can bridge this gap and bring balance to a group before the learners even enter a classroom.

Joost Kohlmann, Project Engineer – Training from Damen Services, describes the process, “Damen’s e-learning platform provides an initial intake test to measure the students’ individual levels of understanding on the required topics, then offers modules to bring knowledge to a standard level across the whole group. The online modules form part of the larger training package, to enhancing the learning rather than replace any part of it.”

Development of the e-learning platform was an organic extension of a service Damen already provides to a small number of existing clients in the form of online assessments. Measuring the impact of longer-term training is the best way to determine the return on investment, and the online assessments can be carried out across multiple locations simultaneously.

The Training department identified an opportunity to expand the service to include distance learning, which is also measured through online assessment, and began designing and developing a platform in February 2018. In the first iteration, the team started built a question database for online testing and identified six general subjects of learning that would be useful for everyone. The first modules, illustrated below, cover basic topics that always need to be covered in classroom situations, but don’t require face-to-face training. By completing the modules online, learners have covered the groundwork before even getting into classroom. As rehearsal is the key to learning, the reinforcement of their online learning with subsequent classroom sessions helps further instil the concepts covered in the modules.

The module interface of Damen’s new e-learning platform The module interface of Damen’s new e-learning platform

Joost’s team recently completed a pilot of the e-learning platform with a long-term client that receives training services and online assessments from Damen Services. Joost found the pilot to be a vital learning experience for the team, “As the client was in the Caribbean, the pilot gave us a valuable insight into cultural differences in regard to learning styles. It also highlighted the importance of considering internet speeds and stable connections, and we were able to make improvements based on those insights.”

With clients as far afield as the Caribbean, the distance learning aspect can have a significant impact on Damen’s warranty and maintenance activity. Damen’s Training department works closely with maintenance colleagues in the field to identify the most common areas where appropriate training can make a difference. For example, the warranty engineers receive requests for assistance with Damen’s on-board Alarm and Monitoring Control System. Through training, clients can learn to successfully operate the system in such a way as to avoid problems or malfunctions – prevention is the best cure.

“Some clients have problems with the fuel-oil separator system – it’s a simple system but if it doesn’t work the whole vessel’s power will die. It’s important for people on-board to know how to operate this system. That’s why we currently have a module in development to teach people the basics,” says Joost. The online module also provides advice on maintenance of the system, which can be an invaluable guide if something goes wrong in transit.

Through this collaboration with all Damen Services departments, Joost’s team maintains a ‘hot topic’ list for incorporation into further online learning modules. The team is developing two further modules in cooperation with suppliers, to include as much direct practical application in its training as possible. Content is key to the platform’s relevance. As Joost explains, “We want to create more content to further enhance the personalised learner journey – and building content is what takes time. In the future, each module will feature an onboarding test to make sure the learner’s level is appropriate for the module, as we’ll be offering different modules at different learning levels.”

Progress indicators and module overview on the e-learning platform Progress indicators and module overview on the e-learning platform

The team is also working towards accreditation of the training in order for course completion to be recognised by official certification. “The Learning Management System creates the ability for course measurement, which lead to certification,” says Joost.

We are hopeful that this will enable us to offer qualifications through the training courses in the near future.

The team intends to further increase accessibility of the platform by providing multilingual content. At present, the e-learning material is available in English only, but can be translated upon request, while the question database is available in multiple languages. As clients around the world enrol on the courses, this will make localised content ever more relevant.

All Damen clients are invited to view the platform in its fully-functional beta environment. Simply go to and log in using the following credentials:

Username :
Password : DamenDemo

If you’d like any further information on e-learning provision or how Training from Damen Services can benefit your organisation, simply get in touch with your contact person in Damen Services.

Joost Kohlmann

Project Engineer Services

Contact via LinkedIn

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