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OPINION: Online boater safety courses measure up

With the Connecticut legislature poised to rule on H.B. No. 6541, which would allow online education options for boating and hunting safety, it’s time to set the record straight. Despite the emotional appeals to prevent online training, the facts indicate Internet courses are a sensible and valid educational alternative.

In a recent opinion piece, “Is online boater training sufficient?,”the author tried to discredit online education by suggesting a rise in boating accidents was somehow related to online training. However, the data shows that is not true.

According to U.S. Coast Guard boating accident statistics, those who received their boating safety certification via an Internet course were associated with only 29 injuries and two deaths in 2011. In comparison, state classroom course graduates accounted for far more incidents: 353 injuries and 42 deaths. Coast Guard Auxiliary classroom graduates suffered 121 injuries and 5 deaths, while graduates of U.S. Power Squadrons classroom courses were reported in 30 injuries and 4 deaths. (Click here for accident statistic details.)

In addition, Connecticut is one of few states that doesn’t offer online training options for boaters and hunters. Currently, online boating safety training is accepted in 45 states, while hunter safety students in more than 30 states enjoy the benefits of Internet courses. Those who study online receive a high-quality and consistent education. The effectiveness of online training was addressed in a 2012 study commissioned by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. That study concluded there is no practical difference in what classroom and online students retained months after they completed a course.

Students from all walks of life rely on online training for everything from earning an MBA to completing the classroom portion of driver’s education. Online learning can occur at the student’s own pace and online courses provide a variety of learning tools from animations to video that increase comprehension. Plus, Connecticut students who study online also would need to take a written, proctored test, just like classroom students.

While change is hard to accept sometimes, online education is an integral part of modern society. With technology advancing at a rapid pace, the experience of online study is more robust than ever before.

Tammy Sapp is director of communications for Kalkomey Enterprises, an official provider of print and Internet courses that have provided official safety certification since 1995. Kalkomey offers safety courses in all 50 states for boating, hunting, bowhunting and off-road-vehicle and snowmobile operation. For information, visit www.kalkomey.com.

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