The South African Navy has embraced the e-learning world as a solution to its unique training requirements on board of SAS OUTENIQUA by using the highly interactive VirtualBook™. Like other ships of this size and stature, training requirements on board are demanding but unlike other classes of ships, the SAS OUTENIQUA has no classroom facilities. The crew operating the ship have a busy schedule and the tight time constraints mean they cannot be spared to go on extended training courses. There is also a relatively limited training budget.
The solution to these problems was to make the training accessible on a self-study basis, using the most up-to-date technology that could easily be implemented on the ship's onboard LAN, which links PCs in various areas including the Engine Control Room (ECR), the bridge and various office areas. The first training course in this format was designed to familiarise and train operators to perform the standard operating procedures of the Auxiliary and Exhaust Gas (Waste Heat) Boiler System and the various subsystems onboard the ship.
Simonstown-based IQS Solutions developed the training course. The structure and content of the course is closely integrated with the Interactive Electronic Technical Manuals (IETMs) developed by LOG-TEK Engineering Solutions.
VirtualBook™, developed by Eduflex.com, was chosen by IQS and LOG-TEK as the ideal, cost-effective solution to their requirements. It is an easy-to-use book-like interface that facilitates sustained onscreen studying and testing of multimedia course material. VirtualBook™ simulates the look and feel of a traditional book to promote inherent learning and memory processes. In addition, its multimedia-rich environment makes it ideal for web support via the Internet or Intranet. Training takes place in parallel with normal ship's operations, and is less intrusive to normal ship operations than more traditional training methods. Students study at their own pace within broad time frames. Supervisors are assigned to each course and monitor students' progress and proficiency on an ongoing basis.
Future plans endorse the success of VirtualBook™ as the new method of studying. Plans are afoot to convert all the subsystems training for the SAS OUTENIQA into this format. In addition, VirtualBook™ is being considered for use in the follow-up training of new Corvettes and Submarines that the SA Navy acquires, as well as in various shore-based training programmes.