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Computer Based Training and the RAN: Shipboard training
The Australian Defence Force has been researching and developing CBT programs since the early 1980s. As a part of these developments computer trainers and simulators have been in use for some time in the Royal Australian Navy. With the growing trend towards CBT in the defence force, and in particular in the Navy it is perhaps timely to examine some of the lessons learned from projects undertaken. The example used in this paper is one such project.
Traditionally shipboard job training has been conducted through the use of task books, whereby allocated tasks are stated in a book. Upon successful completion of these tasks trainees are signed off in the task book. Once the task book is completed and signed, the sailor progresses into the next phase of his training. Computer based training was proposed as a more efficient and effective means of conducting such training for a number of reasons:
- CBT as a training delivery system was anticipated to be more efficient than the more traditional methods because it did not rely on persons other than the trainee for training to take place.
- It was perceived that CBT would be applicable in that it was a self paced course and that sailors were not lost to training in other parts of Australia. Theory training and on the job training, in this case, were in close proximity.
- It was anticipated that by making the program self paced it would ultimately individualise instruction and therefore eliminate the extensive use of an instructor.
In 1985 a team of two training developers were tasked with meeting the training needs of the then new Auxiliary Oil Replenishment (AOR) ship - HMAS Success. Contrary to normal practice the two were assigned prior to the ship becoming operational. Two specific areas of on board training were selected for the project to be conducted on board HMAS Success - The Damage Control Console (DCC) and the Controlled Pitch Propeller (CPP) Systems.
Console operation is extensive in the Navy. The aim of the development of the computer based instruction on board the ship was to provide a trainee with the ability to reach a high level of proficiency in operating the Damage Control Console without seeing the console itself. The CBT was a simulation of the DCC. A second objective of the project was that the trainee should be able to reach this proficiency in his own time and at his own pace and more importantly both the training and simulation take place without the need for instructors or simulator operators in attendance.
The second system selected for the development of computer based training was the hydraulic system (CPP) on board HMAS Success. It was intended that the CBT developed for this system should allow a trainee to undertake such interactions as looking at the equipment and 'seeing' what is happening, referring to screens illustrating cut-away diagrams of each major component in the system or viewing such features as the graphic representation of the oil flow. An advantage of the proposed CBT for the specified training was its capacity to allow a student to choose to work with a particular component or the whole system operation.
The Computer Based Training Development
The CBT package Coursemaster was selected as the development and delivery package for the project. This package uses a slightly modified IBM personal computer as the design and delivery mechanism. The courses used on board HMAS Success were developed at the RAN School of Training Technology at HMAS Cerberus and at the Training Technology unit in Sydney. The adopted style of training was a team approach. All departments were to assist in the new training program, allowing sailors to be released from duties to attend CBT sessions.
In terms of training, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) for one, evaluates training in relation to its effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness being the degree to which training prepares people for the specific task, and efficiency being the relationship between the effectiveness of training and its cost, that is the extent to which training achieves its objectives in relation to the expenditure of training resources. Ultimately, effective CBT can only be developed if we learn from the our mistakes and those of others. The following summarises some of the findings of this project:
- The training developers undertaking the project for HMAS Success were introduced to new concepts of training development, namely training was to be specific for a single new ship. The training materials designed to be used with Coursemaster were developed specifically for the systems on board HMAS Success, ultimately directing policy that all formal training was to be conducted on board.
- Learning to author computer software effectively took two weeks of formal training plus extensive on the job training, therefore time was needed for this was at the expense of other work which at times would restrict operational tasks.
- It was found during the course of this project that while determining learning strategies, close liaison with the likely training implementers was imperative not only to ensure that the design would work but also to assist the acceptability of the design of the programs by the crew. The crew provided the appropriate feedback on the accuracy of the materials.
- A major problem confronting the training staff was the time lost when piloting the training materials. When collecting job related information the absence of people performing or supervising jobs hampered the efficiency of the training. Due to manpower shortages, limited job exposure of appropriate subject matter experts was available. It was quite difficult to design training materials that would use manuals as authoritative aids when those publications were not developed beyond draft form. Consequently equipment and procedure manuals were being written at the same time as being required for training development which provided even longer delays.
- The required environment for CBT formal training is a quiet area suitable for study purposes. HMAS Success like all ships, is designed without this consideration, which ultimately complicates the effectiveness of the training task and hence defining the areas suitable for this role on a ship.
- Formal training implies instructor or supervisor involvement. However due to the roles of the crew members of HMAS Success such involvement was quite impossible.
Upon evaluating the problems that this project confronted, the following recommendations were made.
The situations mentioned above have probably occurred before the HMAS Success project and may occur again in the future, possibly the next being the submarine training project. It is therefore appropriate that we learn from and remember these experiences. It is probable that the situations and experiences realised throughout this project are not peculiar to the RAN. The perception and actualisation of CBT effectiveness in RAN ships is a major task; one which is still being researched, designed, developed, quality controlled and validated. If Computer based training in the defence forces is to fulfil its potential we must continually take time to pause and reflect - is it really the answer or is it just another filing cabinet gathering dust?
- A qualified training developer is required to join the project, with the first of a standby crew, who would be able to assess the training requirements and organise a plan of action.
- It is necessary to determine at an early stage of the project the crew's ongoing training needs and how they could most efficiently be met.
- Appropriate preliminary data collection should be done to gather and process training related data and materials and develop Australian based training courses and resources.
- To be able to effectively produce the required materials it is necessary to liaise with other training authorities on an as required basis.
Computer Based Training Guide for Trainers, May 1984.
RAN Training Systems Manual, Volumes 1-5.
Lindsay, M. J. (LCDR, RAN) & Krause, W. L. (LCDR, RAN) (1986). Nuship Training Development - HMAS Success, RAN.
Leach, G. W. (LEUT, RAN). Report on Computer Based Training Systems - Coursemaster.
|Please cite as: Triantos, M. (1990). Computer Based Training and the RAN: Shipboard training. In J. G. Hedberg, J. Steele and M. Mooney (Eds), Converging Technologies: Selected papers from EdTech'90, 24-26. Canberra: AJET Publications. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/edtech90/triantos.html|
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