Digital training for the next internet age

Seafarers can take ownership of learning and betterment through online content

by Carly Fields

Described as the Spotify of the mari­time training space, Seably shook up the digital training space in 2020 when it was launched. The brainchild of the Swedish Shipowners’ Association, Seably was created in 2017 to find a better way for seafarers to conduct their mandatory and general training. The platform was launched in 2020 after three years of development.

Two years on and chief executive Andrea Lodolo and his team are working to push Seably to the next level and encourage ownership in its online learning communities. Andrea understands the needs of the seafaring world well. Once the chief executive of a large manufacturing company, he swapped the commercial world for a cadetship at Warsash Maritime School. It was during his time here that he began to realise just how much digitalisation was needed in the maritime industry. Through Seably – the first independent maritime digital marketplace – he is acting on that finding.

Andrea describes Seably as “a game­ changer”. The platform engages learners through content delivered using an app, PC and mobile device, online or offline. Complex and highly technical material is presented in various learning styles including 3D and video, aiming to eliminate cultural barriers to learning.

“Classroom based learning has its place, but doesn’t work for everyone,” he says to The Sea. Simply taking old training and putting it online misses the point – and the opportunities – of online digital training. “This is why I am always pushing my team: what more can we do to engage our learners, how can we make it more relevant to them? I am always demanding we go further, looking at how we can add other forms of learning, including virtual reality and digital simulation, into our training offering by encouraging the best in these fields to add their content into the marketplace.”

From seafarers for seafarers

Seably is pitched as from seafarers for seafarers. Thee-Learning library covers over 500 courses developed by industry specialists and practitioners, with many free materials, and a mix of short and advanced training. It gathers specialised content, immersive experiences, virtual training, cutting-edge technology and teaching skills from experts, all the while providing access to the latest training for real-life learning.

Anyone can explore, take or even teach a course. Andrea explains that as long as the material added to the platform meets Seably’s standards of quality, anyone can add content. “This allows industry professionals to pass on their expertise and knowledge.” There are various options for courses for the learner to select, allowing them to match their learning style. “Also, as the courses are reviewed, they can see other learners’ comments on the courses before they select them.” So, anyone can explore hundreds of courses on the platform, available through the website or via an app. Importantly, seafarers do not need internet connectivity to undertake courses.

Andrea sees Seably as the solution to a broken educational system for seafarers. “The mission of maritime education institutes is to prepare seafarers for an industry that is continuously changing and facing various challenges.” But, he says, there is currently a shortage of skilful engaging instructors, a lack of on board training, over-reliance on theoretical teaching, and limited funding sources.

“The seafaring educational system should help seafarers understand the effect and benefits of digitalisation,” he adds. “As a result of technological improvement, ship operations have become more complex, with a high level of automation. So, we now need to accelerate how we educate our seafarers, which no other industrial revolution has done before – we are charting new ground.”

Seably has been founded on ‘Web 2.0’, creating a community and encouraging course providers to add content in a variety of learning ways, for example through animations and video as well as the conventional forms of learning.

The platform allows administrators to assign training to their crew reflecting their different time zones. Vessel­ specific training can also be assigned, requiring, for example, that it is completed before boarding. “This leads to safer and compliant ships and makes administration easier as well as saving vital time.”

Wellbeing is put front and centre through Seably’s WellAtSea offering. This actively promotes a holistic health and wellbeing culture within maritime through a range of dedicated content from specialists in their areas of expertise.

The training offered by Seably is also approved by DNV, a first for a digital training marketplace. The standard (ST-0595) is now open and available for any other digital service to achieve in the maritime sector. “I want seafarers to have the best possible training they can so making sure it is easy for them to recognise good digital training was very important to us,” says Andrea.


Acceptance of the benefits of digital learning is growing rapidly – Peter Doehle and Synergy are both using Seably for their training. But more needs to be done if the industry is to be successful in encouraging young talent into the maritime industry. Andrea re­fers to a study conducted by UK-based multinational publishing and education company Pearson where 2,588 people aged 14-40 were polled on preferences, behaviours and attitudes surrounding the use of technology in education. The results revealed that 32% of Gen-Z (aged 14-23) liked online courses with video lectures against 25% who pre­ferred eText. The survey findings also revealed that 59% of Gen-Z believe technology can transform the way students will learn in the future.

Andrea is now focused on that future, finding a place for Seably in a new, blockchain-based web which includes cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens and more. He is inspired by the opportunity for users to have a financial stake and more control over the web communities they belong to.

For him, digitalisation is here and will continue to grow at pace, not just for training but across all aspects of the maritime sector. “The companies who use digitalisation are keen to transform their processes with a view to making themselves more competitive,” he says.

“Big data and artificial intelligence are already influencing seafarers’ training, making it safer and greener and potentially transforming the shipping industry.” For example, artificial intelligence at work in the Seably platform looks at each learner’s behaviour at a granular level. This allows managers to see when they have spent time training, discover what courses were popular, or what vessel spent the most time taking courses. At a higher level, this gives real insights into the behaviour of the teams and vessels, which in turn allows for better training, planning and changes to courses. “Seafarers’ needs are at the core of Seably, so the training and learning will continue to be developed according to that,” he says.

As a parting thought, Andrea says he wants to encourage all seafarers to download and share more apps to help inform management of what is useful to everyday life at sea. “There are many free tools you can use in your professional life besides those you regularly use. Once you identify one you like, promote it to your manager, your captain, your company, helping to speed up the digital transformation.”