Evolution of the ATO’s during Covid19 Pandemic

It cannot be denied that 2020 was a year characterized by changes, adaptations and reconsiderations of certain life and working scheme which seemed already established. However, once again, reality gave us another lesson, that of adapting to change. Undoubtedly, during last year, most of us learned a lot, not only individually but also in other aspects of our lives. Likewise, such changes and learnings could also be seen in our working areas as well as in the area of Aids to Navigation. As a matter of facts, Maritime Security has also had to adapt itself to the world pandemic under the premise of being an “Essential Sector”.

According to Charles Darwin “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one more responsive to change”, we verified such hypothesis by taking a look at certain acts.

In this light, as of year 2017, Hidrovia as the Training Academy in Aids to Navigation (Argentina) and MSM Academy (Spain), both ATOs (Accredited Training Organizations to offer training courses with IALA International Certification), continued their labour over the year 2020, considering and adapting themselves to the pandemic context, to encourage the training of L2 Technical Personnel in Aids to Navigation according to the reference framework defined by the World-Wide Academy which belongs to IALA (WWA-IALA).

Given the sanitary context and, in consequence, the impossibility of offering onsite courses to be held, it was organized the First L2 Online Course with International IALA Certification. Hidrovia together with the Directorate of the Maritime Territory and National Merchant Marine (DIRECTEMAR by its acronym in Spanish), which belongs to the Chilean Navy as a National Member, completed Module 8: AIS AtoN Operator. The completion of this module comprised a challenge to the adaptation and the planification of contents as well as the process and the production of the module in this online version respecting the WWA standards.

The course was held from 9th to 27th November of 2020 and fifty attendees from thirteen Spanish-speaking countries participated in it (Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela).

Country/Year 2017 2018 2019 2020
Argentina 5 5 8 11
Chile 10
Colombia  7 5
Costa Rica 1
Cuba 1 2 2
Ecuador  1 4
El Salvador 1 1
Spain 7 12 1
Guatemala 2 1 2
Nicaragua 2
Panama 2 3 1
Peru 2 4
Uruguay 2 2 3 5
Venezuela 3
27 10 31 51

Chronological distribution of countries and attendees of L2 Model Courses given from 2017 to 2020.

It can be clearly seen that the change of the course modality during the year 2020 due to Covid19 pandemic was a paramount benefit which encouraged the organizations’ technical personnel to agree in attending a formal and IALA validated training course given in their mother tongue. This event showed an increase of the 330 % of the amount of people enrolled.

L2 Model Training Courses for Technical Personnel in Aids to Navigation given from 2017 to 2020.

This new online modality permitted to achieve the three main WWA aims.

First: Continue offering L2 Training Courses oriented to AtoN Technical Personnel. Both ATOs, the Aids to Navigation Training Academy (Argentina) and the MSM Academy (Spain), since their creation, have promoted the need and the importance of the training of technicians. The reasons why courses are considered to be important can be summarized as follows:

  • There exist more AtoN technicians than AtoN administrators;
  • It does not exist a specific training in certain technical areas;
  • Technicians are those who work directly with Aids to Navigation (installation, maintenance, among other tasks).

Second: Since the accreditation of both ATOs in the year 2017, they continue offering training courses in Spanish. Taking into account the existence of 22 Spanish-speaking countries and that technicians do not necessarily have a basic technical English level to follow an accurate and effectively training course given in that language, by giving a course in Spanish it is ensured a better understanding, the gaining of knowledge and the development of concepts which become more precise if taught in someone’s mother tongue. Exploiting strengths for the technicians works hand in hand with the collaborative community for the translation of the IALA documents with the same original aim: providing the Spanish-speaking members of IALA with the documents translated in Spanish for a better understanding of them.

Third: The online modality allows to expand the access to the L2 Training Couse with International IALA Certification given that, in most of the cases, the travelling, the accommodation and the food expenses may increase the cost of attending the courses if they were onsite. In this sense, being the cost of the course itself the one and only attribute to consider, the organizations could increase the number of personnel to enroll, establishing a more complex and widespread network of Spanish-speaking Aids to Navigation Technicians with IALA Accreditation.

History of the L2 Courses

ATOs prior experiences in L2 Training IALA Courses:

  • 2017: Module 7 (Racon) and Module 8 (AIS), Argentina;
  • 2017: Module 1 (Introduction to AtoN), Spain;
  • 2018: Module 2 (Power Sources), Argentina;
  • 2019: Module 3 (Marine Lanterns), Argentina;
  • 2019: Module 8 (AIS) and Module 10 (Monitoring and Remote-Control System), Spain;
  • 2020: Module 8 (AIS), Argentina, Spain and Chile.

Training Tool

The implementation of a digital platform of virtual classrooms specifically designed for the course proved to be vital to successfully adapt the Module 8 (AIS) onsite course to the online modality in November of 2020 since it allowed the management of the course, the academic tracking of the attendees, the control of absenteeism, the conduction of surveys related to the satisfaction of students and surveys related to the performance of the trainers, as well as the creation of a digital library.

The success of the ATOs as Accreditation Training Organizations, WWA-IALA, is based in the support of the National Members: Naval Hydrographic Service (Argentina), Puertos del Estado (Spain) and DIRECTEMAR (Chile) as Competent Authorities and in how students rely on the trainers, their dedication and professionalism, associated to each course while achieving the best atmosphere for the dissemination of contents.

Sharing this article with the IALA community is an excellent opportunity to offer this L2 Online Course with International IALA Certification oriented to Module 3 (Marine Lanterns).

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