Educating the Global Maritime Professional—a case of collaborative e-learning


The purpose of this study is to develop a new educational approach responding to the needs of new areas of knowledge, skills, and attitudes in maritime education and training (MET) as set forth in the recently published Global Maritime Professional initiative (IAMU 2019). In particular, this study explores the development of a collaborative e-learning approach targeting young maritime professionals coming together from different MET institutions. An action research process has been employed, where faculty, administrators, and students from four MET institutions participated to understand evolving educational needs and the need for new educational approaches. Based on the outcome, a new collaborative e-learning approach was tested and evaluated with students from the MET institutions. The findings give evidence of new educational needs in MET concerning leadership, teamwork, communication, cultural awareness, and new technology applications. The results point toward how collaboration is needed to infuse new topical expertise to MET institutions and to enable students (and instructors) to increase collaboration, including the importance of socialization between students from different MET institutions; how it is possible to develop new dynamic e-learning materials to give students access to new topic expertise; and the provisions of application and analytical learning activities with an e-learning educational approach. MET institutions are under pressure to develop new educational topics and approaches. At the same time, they are experiencing resource constraints and tend to operate in isolation. The results of this study provide a route forward as to how MET institutions can come together to develop new forms of education using the latest e-learning educational methods and technologies.

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  1. 1.

    Studies related to the GMP initiative concerning how to sustain MET and the competencies of maritime professionals in light of the rapid development of the maritime industry (such as the opportunities and challenges that new technologies bring) include the METHAR (Maritime Education and Training Harmonisation) (Zade 2003; Leggate et al. 2004) and the subsequent METNET (The Thematic Network on Maritime Education, Training and Mobility of Seafarers) projects, as well as the European Union SKILLFUL ( project.

  2. 2.

    The World Maritime University is unique in this group. It offers only post-graduate educational offerings and does not directly train seafarers but educates, among others, administrators and policy makers who influence seafarer educational policies at the national and international levels.

  3. 3.

    With reference to a participatory design approach (Bødker et al. 2004, p.198), workshops are positioned to build up a relevant understanding of present work practices and to design new visions and proposals, based on principles of developing a coherent vision and getting genuine user participation.

  4. 4.

    The e-lessons were developed as part of the MARIWEL distance learning program (, a joint program on seafarers’ welfare issues developed by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in collaboration with the World Maritime University. Three academic and industry experts lectured in the e-lessons: Dr. Momoko Kitada (WMU); Dr. Bjarne Vandeskog (Western Norway University of Applied Sciences); Dr. Jason Zuidema (North American Maritime Ministry Association).

  5. 5.

  6. 6.

    Some of the students had experience from participatory workshops organized by external organizations but not as part of the course curricula at their respective institutions. One of the students, for example, described a workshop organized by ITF where MET students had been invited to develop concepts using a participatory approach and present to a plenum. She described it as a positive experience, although she was surprised that such an approach was “acceptable” when presenting to high-level international stakeholders.

  7. 7.

    Lower-level learning of remembering and understanding with relation to Bloom’s taxonomy (Bloom et al. 1956; Krathwohl 2002)

  8. 8.

    The students participating in this study were studying on a bachelor and master level at their respective MET institutions, which links to tiers B and C in the GMP taxonomy (see IAMU 2019, p. 12).

  9. 9.

    Higher-level learning of applying with relation to Bloom’s taxonomy (Bloom et al. 1956; Krathwohl 2002)


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The authors wish to express their gratitude to the staff and students from the Estonian Maritime Academy, Gdynia Maritime University, and Odessa Maritime Academy that participated in the research. We would also like to thank the Swedish Institute for supporting the research. Finally, we thank the reviewers for their constructive feedback and guidance throughout the review process.

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Correspondence to Johan Bolmsten.

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Bolmsten, J., Manuel, M.E., Kaizer, A. et al. Educating the Global Maritime Professional—a case of collaborative e-learning. WMU J Marit Affairs (2021).

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  • Collaborative e-learning
  • Maritime education and training
  • Higher education
  • The Global Maritime Professional
  • Maritime innovation management