OTG’s new platform for seafarer training

Jul 09 2021

Ocean Technologies Group, including Videotel, Seagull and others, has consolidated its offering onto a single platform to make it easier for shipping companies.

Ocean Technologies Group (OTG), the maritime e-learning company formed by the merger of Videotel, Seagull, COEX, Marine Training Services (MTS), Marlins and Tero Marine, has combined all of its offerings on a single platform, under the new company name, Ocean Technologies Group.


The merger follows the companies coming under the common ownership of Oakley Capital, based in London.


Having a single platform should make it easier for shipping companies to work with the products of the various companies, and also support the further development of maritime e-learning.


Manish Singh, CEO of OTG, and a third generation seafarer, said that the platform has a “totally revamped user interface, immersive new content and improved engagement tools.”


By bringing the courses together into one platform, it can become a “performance tool”, more than just a “learning tool”, Captain Singh said.


The new motto of the company is “performance beyond compliance”, or in other words, it is good if we can focus on improving performance, not just complying with the rules.


The company has transformed the ability to configure a training program across the company, Captain Singh says. You can specify certain courses for the entire company to do, or for crew on a specific vessel, or a specific type of vessel, or for crew in a certain rank, or for crew working on ship fitted with a certain piece of equipment.


A company may want crew to take certain courses in preparation for an audit, or to help familiarise them with a vessel before joining it for the first time.


Seafarers can be assigned a group of courses, and they can monitor their progress through them. This can link to the company’s “competency management system,” showing what proficiencies everyone has achieved. Seafarers can also set long term personal development goals and monitor progress towards them.


You can also incorporate home-built courses specific to your company or a ship into the system, and also courses from other organisations, such as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), classification societies and flag states. The software has APIs which should enable it to integrate with other software systems.


OTG has a “dedicated service team” which will work with shipping companies to co-ordinate how they use OTG materials across their fleets.


Support in difficult times

“I saw 2020 as the most operationally challenged year the maritime industry has faced in living memory,” Captain Singh said.


“An unprecedented mental health crisis [plus] reduced availability of seafarers’ time, makes assessment, learning, and retention more difficult than ever.


With this in mind, the systems have been designed to help people do more learning in less time. “This is incredibly important in the busy environment we find ourselves in,” he said.


Seafarers can do learning and assessment on multiple devices.


When they are brought to do classroom or physical training, that precious time can be spent on “mission related training,” something specific to the task in hand.


OTG is also offering free wellbeing training for seafarers with online tools.


The platform

The platform was designed with a “seafarer first philosophy”, making it simple for people to find what they are looking for, and making it work on any device, says Casper Atkinson, chief product officer with OTG.


Mr Atkinson joined OTG six months ago (September 2020). He has a background in digital product development for online content and streaming.


The platform provides additional opportunities to communicate with seafarers. The shipping company can send updates about critical training, send company bulletins, and monitor whether seafarers have opened the messages. They can also send questionnaires or polls to seafarers and shore based teams.


The user interface design has “borrowed heavily from well-established contemporary interfaces,” with effort made to reduce the number of clicks needed, and make the most important material easiest to access, he said.


The learning modules appear in “trays”, with the most important learning in the top tray, scheduled / required learning (with a due date) in the second tray, another tray for “continued training” (training which has ben started but not completed). There is a tray of “updates” – new training developed on specific topics, for example container fires and handling volatile organic compounds.


When you click on the training you see a summary page, with details, a summary and chapters, and then you click on a chapter and the training starts.


All of the courses have been “re-authored” to make them work well on mobile devices.


OTG has “by far the most extensive content library in the maritime world,” with over 800 titles, developed over the many years that Videotel and Seagull have been active, Mr Atkinson says. Many of these have flag state approval.


All of the courses can be provided directly over the internet if a connection is available. Alternatively, they can be provided onboard vessels on a piece of hardware called the “Ocean Box”. There are also ways to download content onto mobile devices for offline use.


As communications bandwidth becomes more widely available, the company is aiming to transition to much more digital delivery allowing for non-hardware dependent on-demand updates. 


Knowledge or competence?

OTG is keen to move further in the direction of helping seafarers develop competence.


Until now, e-learning has mainly been about sharing knowledge and information, with videos or online guides, then giving them a knowledge test.


The next level to building competency is helping seafarers improve situation awareness and skills. This can be done digitally with simulations.


“We can put seafarers into a situation you would not want them to be in, in real life,” Mr Atkinson says.


“They can acquire key skills on how to cope in stressful situations - through demonstration  and repetition.”


Mr Atkinson showed an example online training course made with five actors. The actors played seafarers who had been injured in an explosion, perhaps in an engine room, with fake blood gushing from one actor’s leg. The viewer was invited to play the role of a chief officer, entering the engine room, needing to decide what to do in the situation, to avoid lives being lost, taking into account what was known and not known.


“You are the first on scene, you must make decisions for first aid to ensure everyone survives. You will be scored on the accuracy of your decisions and the time it takes you to make them,” Mr Atkinson said.


There isn’t necessary one correct pathway, but some pathways lead to better outcomes than others.


“We take learning from a passive to an active experience. And the end user wants to improve the outcome,” he says.


The software can also support role playing games, such as for collision avoidance, where the user can work through a range of simulated scenarios.


Other training services

OTG is offering a virtual classroom (similar to a Zoom meeting). It can support private classrooms with instructors, or webinars for up to 500 people. There are tools for polling, chat, screensharing, white boards.


The classroom is integrated into the Ocean platform. You can schedule events through the communications system, and select invitees from the user database.


Everything runs from a PC or mobile browser, no additional software is required. It should be ideal for companies who want to move their normal face to face training online.


OTG is also developing a remote assessment centre, to replace the physical seafarer assessment centres, if people are unable to attend them due to Covid concerns.


Supporting customers

To make invoicing easier for customers, OTG is re-organising its contracting, so customers pay a single invoice for their whole fleet for all OTG products. All invoicing will now be in US$.


Individual seafarers can also take out courses on a pay as you go basis.


OTG has a data analytics team with a remit to find insights into how its customers can improve their training across the company. The team’s job “is to help us understand our information better, so we can help customers deliver on their KPIS,” says Johan Gustafsson, Chief Revenue Officer, OTG.


They will be able to alert customers to trends in the data they may be interested in. “We'll be able to provide insight at a much higher level than before,” he says.


The company also has a customer focus team helping existing brand customers move onto the new consolidated platform.



In January 2021, ship manager Wallem Group announced that it had signed an agreement with OTG to implement the OCEAN Learning Platform, providing access to its 7,000 seafarers.


“We want to make sure training and development of our seafarers do not take a back seat in this time of increased demand and change. We need tools to accelerate the time-to-competence for our seafarers,” said John-Kaare Aune, interim CEO, Wallem Group.


“The OCEAN Learning Platform enables us to proactively close training gaps and increase training effectiveness, which in return will strengthen our safety culture,” said Yvette de Klerk, Head of Training, Ship Management, Wallem Group. “The trainers at Wallem will benefit from the automated processes, training data analysis and ability to track crew achievements online.”


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