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MI launches new online fishing master class

Roger Bath, a Fishing Master IV instructor with the Marine Institute's School of Fisheries.


By Darcy MacRae

The Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) and the Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board have worked together to bring a new fishing master fourth class (FMIV) E-learning pilot project into the homes of fish harvesters in this province.

Much to the delight of Craig Parsons, the director of MI's Community Based Education Deliver Unit (CBED), the project has been deemed an overwhelming success.

"We wanted to determine if an online delivery of the FMIV program would be an effective and successful means for students to complete this program from home," said Mr. Parsons. "We wanted to know if the E-learning format is a viable learning method for fishers and if this method would be compliant with the mandatory training standards. We are happy to report the results have been very encouraging."

The fishing master fourth class program was designed and delivered by faculty from the Marine Institute's School of Fisheries, within MI's Department of Academic and Student Affairs, and with Memorial University's Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support (DELTS) serving as the managing group. The program was made available online to fish harvesters via Desire2Learn (D2L), a learning management system that supports on-campus and distance education courses at MI.

D2L is designed for customized and flexible learning experiences and allows instructors to use the tools best suited to their instructional styles.

For the fishing master IV E-learning pilot, which was taught completely online, the Marine Institute provided fish harvesters with a web-based learning experience that included active participation and interaction with instructors and other students, as well as a complete set of course materials with ongoing access to electronically available content in a variety of forms. It also included assessment opportunities to ensure students can gauge their progress in the course through their feedback from the instructors.

"The fish harvesters were provided with a package of course materials and a DVD that contained the multimedia enhanced learning tools," said Roger Bath, a fishing master IV instructor with the Marine Institute's School of Fisheries. "The D2L delivery method was considered an effective learning management system for addressing the unique training requirements for the FMIV students. The web-based portal acted as the primary interface between the instructor and the students."

Fifteen fish harvesters from across the province were identified to take part in the pilot project and an information package with an accompanying DVD was sent to each individual. They progressed through the training with self pace learning, with technical support readily available throughout.

Courses delivered as part of the program included chart work and pilotage level one; navigation and safety level one; and ship construction and stability level one.

The Marine Institute has received positive feedback from the fisher harvesters who took part, said Carey Bonnell, head, School of Fisheries, MI.

"A major advantage to this approach is that the online method of delivery reduces the cost of training for the harvester," said Mr. Bonnell. "It is a flexible, self-paced system that provides ample technical and instructional support to ensure students are successful in completing their Transport Canada exams."

Funding for this project was provided in part by the Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board and the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.