Date of Award
Master of Science in Maritime Affairs
Maritime Education & Training
Trinidad and Tobago
Muirhead, Peter M.
This dissertation is a study of distance learning methods and technologies. A brief history is given from inception and traces its continuous development from initial implementation to current practices. A comparison with traditional learning was done, outlining the various attributes of the two concepts, where intrinsic and extrinsic influencing factors are described. Despite the fact that distance learning has been practised formally in one form or another for the past hundred years, it has not and still is, not fully regarded and accepted within the educational system. Since its inception in the form of Correspondence, it has been looked upon as an inferior type of learning without any academic credibility. Accordingly it has more or less been tolerated as a means of delivering education to the 'masses', rather than an alternative method of education. It has thus been viewed as a method of study for students who do not fulfil academic requirements for higher education, and therefore considered an 'easy' way of gaining academic success. However changing social trends, the inability of traditional learning institutions to accommodate increasing numbers of students, and the technological progress in communication and computerisation have been largely responsible for a perceived change in attitude. The learning process and the various components as applied, have been examined with the focus on necessary attributes, along with the learning methods practised. The relationship between the teacher and student together with their respective responsibilities are discussed, being considered vital factors in the learning process. The technology utilised is described in a general context without descriptive technical detail, which is outside the scope of this dissertation. A distance learning course design is described indicating the procedure and the staff involved. Its application to the maritime industry is discussed concisely, attesting to its validity and the benefits to be derived. Initiatives for developing countries are suggested, where the concept can assist in the training of personnel, and in the development of maritime institutions. The benefits of distance learning are increasingly being recognised within the maritime industry, though primarily as a means for compliance with international regulations. The concluding chapters in addition to summarising the content of the dissertation, also provides recommendations for implementing and applying the distance learning concept within the maritime industry and developing countries.