This entry was submitted by Cristin Arante
The John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University comprises three major academic units: JBLFMU-Arevalo, JBLFMU-Molo and JBLCF-Bacolod. In addition, the University encompasses a wide array of centers and programs, libraries, museums, administrative support offices and a training center that supports continuing training and education programs. Approximately 11,000 students attend the University.
Being the only maritime university in Philippines and the first maritime university in Asia, the JBLFMU is committed to the development of a culture of excellence in maritime education and training, and responds to the need of time by acknowledging the practical and operational advancement of Online Distance Learning (ODL) mode of delivery.
The JBLFMU-Distance Education-Open Learning Office (DE-OL) aims to extend graduate maritime studies throughout the country and the whole world; to provide opportunities for instructors/trainers in maritime educational institutions, personnel of maritime and shipping industries on-board ship and/or ashore to acquire a master’s degree in Maritime Education, Maritime Management and/or Ship Management. The system of programs uses both on-campus and off-campus methods of delivering education to a wide range of students around the globe, who want to enhance their competencies to better, prepare them for a career in maritime institutions and industries.
With the goal of extending maritime studies, the JBLFMU-DEOL Office, with full support from the Unit administration, a feasibility study on different open-source LMS solutions was conducted. The “experimental implementation” of several LMS including eFront revealed that, in terms of cost savings and easy control, eFront is the best tool to use in engaging online distance learning.
eFront is a modern learning system, bundled with several functionalities ranging from learning delivery, communication tools, reporting, and administration, up to advanced security (eFront, 2012). It also provides an extremely wide array of functionalities but remains simple and easy to use. The technical requirements of solution are straightforward, which means that the solution can be rapidly implemented.
Learning modules, study guides with instructions and other materials, including video and audio tapes, are provided. Upon enrollment, the student is assigned an instructor who receives his lessons and offers comments and suggestions. The instructor gives a copy of the documents to the DE Office where grades are recorded and mailed or emailed back to the student.
With the DE-OLS, the student has the freedom to tailor his learning to his demanding schedule. The system, however, requires the student’s self-motivation and discipline. Through Distance Education, one can work towards a master’s degree in Maritime Education, Maritime Management or Ship Management. The courses offered via distance education or open learning system allows students to move up the career ladder or expand his understanding of subjects as diverse as maritime law, socio-economic development, maritime pollution and environment preservation, quantitative analysis in business, etc.
eFront, being open by nature, has the means to customize relevant requirements that best suit the University’s needs. Among the main attraction that makes eFront the finest learning delivery are: content management, assessments, projects, scheduling, glossary, file library, lesson rules, SCORM 1.2, linked lessons, lesson capacity and course instances among others (eFront, 2012). It also has communication tools that provide both instructors and students constant collaboration among themselves be in or out of the classroom.
Another functionality that makes eFront the best solution is its ability to provide user reports, lesson reports, course reports, system reports and test reports. As to administration, it is capable of importing/exporting courses and lessons with multilingual support. Not the least of its capability is its advanced security which provides the user and administrator exceptional security, scalability and support; eFront is professionally supported and designed to last. It is always reliable because someone is regularly available on hand if something does go wrong.
The University hopes to conduct its education services and school management via the digital realm, delivering rich media resources, providing collaboration tools for project work, and encouraging online communication between students and instructors. These are made possible through the aid of LMS solutions found in eFront.
Among LMS solutions, eFront takes the lead in terms of integration with the corporate and educational environment. The overall implementation of the JBLFMU – ODL is successful and delivered on time and with relative beneficial results. The primary benefit is that all online courses provided by the school can now be delivered and accessed to and by all concerned over the school’s network or internet. Instructors are now more adept to develop digital course content and have learned how to set, mark and record student progress online.