Australian Maritime and Fisheries Academy using online course delivery

WORKSHOP: Matthew Torpey gets hands on in Port Adelaide. Photo: supplied
WORKSHOP: Matthew Torpey gets hands on in Port Adelaide. Photo: supplied

The Australian Maritime and Fisheries Academy has responded to the needs of students and industry during COVID-19 and is offering blended learning with online elements.

The academy, which has campuses in Port Lincoln and Port Adelaide, will use its technology to deliver all courses online, using a blended learning model where all course work is computer based but incorporating face-to-face components where needed.

Academy chief executive officer Bob Miller said staying in touch with people in Port Lincoln revealed a fishing industry suffering through COVID-19.

He said delivering courses online meant students in regional areas, including Port Lincoln, could study for qualifications when and where they want, at their own pace.

"It's the time-poor nature of the workforce," he said.

"Employers couldn't afford for staff to be away training because fishing is now a 12-month-a-year concern, margins are so small."

The new model has been a benefit to Matthew Torpey from Penong, who is now doing practical work in Port Adelaide for his Marine Engine Driver II course.

Mr Torpey said he had previously looked at doing the course but had been put off due to the need to travel nearly 500 km to Port Lincoln for a six week course.

He said about eight weeks ago he learned about the new online format for the course which allowed for him to do all the theory work online and only having to travel for one week for practical work.

"I was so happy when I found out I could do it online, it worked out well," he said.

"The academy is really good to deal with, they've got really good workshop facilities to do practicals in and I found online really easy to use."

Brian Jeffriess, who was recently appointed emeritus director after 19 years of service with the academy board, said the academy noted the trend pre-COVID that people were not interested in attending all day to a formal classroom course.

"It's been shifting, even in boat management and crew training, to online for a while," he said.

"The result is that we've done quite well during this period."

Academy chairperson Dr Hagen Stehr said the academy was in a position to continue successfully training the industry's future fishers and mariners, thanks to the work of the board and staff.

"Blended learning is the way ahead for us and our people have worked hard to make it come to fruition," he said.

"In Australia, you need statutory training and a certificate before you can go to sea.

"That is the importance of the maritime college in that environment, if you don't train people, you have no industry."