The American Boat and Yacht Council had been developing ways to make online certification for courses an option for members, and like many groups and companies, the coronavirus sped up the process.
“That was in the works before the pandemic, but we accelerated a bit,” said ABYC education director David Broadbent. “We cancelled all in-person classes for 2020. I don’t want to be sitting in classroom right now, and no one knows what fall is going to look like.”
What the association didn’t expect to see: sold-out training classes and higher success rates among students.
Since April there have been 90 participants in three online certification courses with an 88 percent pass rate, up from 73 percent as seen with ABYC’s in-person courses.
“Our pass rate has gone up,” said Broadbent. “One of the biggest things that makes this an easier model to work with is they’re taking an hour and a half out of a day, they’re not out of the office four days in a row for traditional in-person classes, plus travel.”
The format is less rigorous and less daunting for some students, and gives them a chance to digest or review material before taking an exam that is administered via an online proctoring service, eliminating the need to have a physical proctor in the room. The online proctor uses biometrics, and the camera and mic to make sure the testing and test-taking are done appropriately, said Broadbent.
The interactive format has been well received, said Broadbent, and ABYC has seen interest from people all over the world.
“We’re adjusting our schedule to start at 9 a.m.” so students in Europe and South Africa, for example, won’t have to attend during night hours, he said.
In the first online marine electrical course students attended from around the world including the U.S., Canada, Martinique, Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Mauritius and South Africa.
“A big thing is preparing for the future for us,” said Broadbent. “We didn’t buckle down and we didn’t wait things out. We made sure we were doing the right things for our members. We’re always trying to come up with new ways to be the best resource we can be, especially right now. ”